Ordinary Man is the Prince of Darkness’ first release of new material since 2010’s Scream. Although I felt Scream was pretty good, the sales numbers don’t lie. Ozzy’s 2007 release, Black Rain was his first studio album to not be certified RIAA Platinum, and Scream didn’t even reach gold status. Heck, even I didn’t buy it and I consider myself a fan.
There are a few attempts on Ordinary Man to break the downward slide in sales that I’m sure looked good on paper but the execution is a little lacking.
The core of the band is made up of:
Ozzy – Lead Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass, also of Guns ‘N Roses
Chad Smith – drums, also of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Andrew (Watt) Wotman – guitars, also the album’s co-producer
They all share a writing credits with a host of guest writers and musicians featured throughout. We would be here all day if I tried to go through them all.
Some regulars like Guns ‘n Roses’ Slash and Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello make an appearance, but there are some interesting additions like a collaboration on the title track with Elton John and some dude named Post Malone who is featured on the last two if you got a digital or CD copy. (The vinyl only has one.)
Even with all of these cooks in the kitchen the pot isn’t fully spoiled.
Ozzy’s humour is front and center on opening track, Straight To Hell when he tells you he is going to make you scream and defecate. There is something about that word… defecate. It is equally funny as it is gross. I enjoy this rocker featuring the Ozzy tropes “alright now” and his evil cackle throughout. Hits me right in the good spot.
The albums tracks Goodbye, Eat Me, Today Is the End, and Scary Little Green Man are solid. These gave me Ozzmosis vibes as they are all sludgy, mid-tempo rockers with a sprinkle of heavy guitar moments.
Under the Graveyard begins as a slow ballad, but the last part takes off to what is as close as this albums gets to Ozzy’s Black Sabbath days. After 50 years of metal, Ozzy can still finds guys who can come up with the big riff. Ozzy’s lyrics are best when he is telling of personal life moments and this one is of Sharon putting him back on his feet after he was fired from Sabbath. It’s a decent tune.
The rest of the album is a bit of a mixed bag. Individually, All My Life, Ordinary man (his duet with Elton John), and Holy For Tonight are solid ballads but they are too same-y. I get it. They are attempts to get Ozzy an FM radio hit like he had previously with Mama, I’m Coming Home and Dreamer. Even though I do like them, all three on one record makes them less special. It’s a similar problem I have with Aeorsmith’s Get A Grip.
For the Post Malone stuff, I can see the effort was there to make a bridge with a young audience. Surrounding himself with successful musicians how are hip to that crowd is what has worked for Ozzy since the ’80s. So, I respect it. But I think what they came up with would fit better on a Post Malone album.
Despite my gripes, I do enjoy Ordinary Man for the most part. I still like hearing Ozzy’s signature eerie voice over heavy guitars, but maybe an approach to something the core fan base can better appreciate will make the next one a must have.
Regardless, Ordinary Man is not one I can spin endlessly, but I will do once in a while. I’m glad we have it.