The Madman, celebrated in thousands of tattoos, brings out a new album where past and future go hand in hand. Here’s our enthusiastic review.
Ten years. Ten long years have already passed since the last solo album from Ozzy Osbourne, the passable Scream of 2010. And now he’s back with Ordinary Man, the twelfth album from the British vocalist to remind us that time passes inexorably for all of us.
It’s not that Ordinary Man isn’t good, but it oozes melancholy, dejection and nostalgia from every pore. As if to remind us that Osbourne, 72 years old next December and afflicted with a number of physical problems including the dreadful Parkinson’s Disease, considers this album a sort of swan song. The final curtain of a glorious career: his. A bit like what happened with 13, the farewell album from Black Sabbath, with Ozzy singing at his most inspired, forged by the riffs of Tony Iommi ,which came out all of seven years ago.
Except that 13 was massive, dark and self-celebratory while Ordinary Man is aiming rathter for a Beatle-like tenderness (the delightful All my life) sublimated in the bitter-sweetness of a life lived too hard. A life which perhaps – only now – requires a profound existential philosophical summing up.
From this viewpoint, the ballads on the record have an incredible expressive force, starting with the magical duet with Elton John in the title track (a masterpiece that will leave you in awe, especially when the voice of Sir Elton chimes in), not to mention the single Under the graveyard’– which finishes in a speeded up finale with a distinctly Sabbath feel – and the symphonic glam, perhaps a little ho-hum, Holy for tonight. This last one is Elton to the bone and would not have been out of place in albums from the seventies such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or Captain Fantastic…
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