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Osbourne, Ozzy: Blizzard of Oz (Mini-LP CD)

Japanese Mini-LP CD replicas are an interesting collectible series and the Ozzy Osbourne catalog is the latest recipient in this ever growing segment that includes everyone from Pink Floyd to Metallica. The "mini appeal" centers around the idea of repackaging a CD as an exact replica of the original vinyl lp as it was sold when originally released. The quality of the reproduction usually varies depending on the label, but for the most part equals or even exceeds the original production standard. Also, if the album was released with "goodies" such as posters or other inserts (Hmmm, Kiss), they are usually faithfully reproduced as well. Now that we are on the same page about the "mini" let's see how this one fairs in terms of content and most importantly--sound!

The sound on Blizzard of Oz is from the 2002 re-recorded remaster and that is where the trouble starts. Believe it or not, I never knew this was ever re-recorded! (Yeah, I don't know where the hell I've been)** I must also mention that the product description did not mention the re-recording of the bass and drum tracks and there is no English text anywhere on the CD that delineates this as a re-recording.** It seems that in response to a lawsuit filed by original B.O.O. band members Bob Daisley (Bass) and Lee Keerslake (drummer) over unpaid performance royalties for Blizzard of Oz & Diary of a Madman, the Osbourne estate hired Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin to re-record the original parts. (Those guys should have refused) What the hell was the Osbourne estate thinking? Probably, they realized that they were going to have to cough up the coin to Daisley & Kerslake, but if they cut them out of the recordings they would not have to give them another dime once the remaster hit the streets. This assertion is further justified by the fact that Bob Daisley performed on three other Ozzy recordings and his performances are left intact! But, back to the music…Did anyone ever give thought to how re-recording new tracks might disturb the original acoustics? Heeeeell no!!! When "I Don't Know" cued up I said… wait a damn minute! The mastering is so "compression heavy" that the guitar has lost all definition. (This is not the typical "audiophile" import by any means!) The crisp and clean edges that "defined" and propelled the rhythm and lead work have been eroded by a dull smothering mess. For instance, the godly solo's in "Mr. Crowley" has been blurred beyond belief and one listen to that incredible slide that marks the beginning of "Suicide Solution" and you're on your way to complete overload. Even the piano solo in "Revelation Mother Earth" has been blown to hell; there is no individuality existing in the notes any longer! In effect, it's acoustically dead. Even more disturbing is how loudly the new bass and drum parts are recorded. Where the guitar solo's once stood as the centerpiece of attention in the songs; they're replaced with the smug "thumbing of the nose" to the original musicians. Sharon must feel pretty good messing with "god" if you will indulge the sarcasm there.

What makes you really sick is that this desecration was done to one of the greatest metal recordings ever. Whether you agree with that or not does not negate the fact that Rhoads, or the other members who participated, are due their respect for performing on this piece of musical history. To me, this recording is part of the original constitution of metal and you can't just go and change the words to vindicate a vendetta or satisfy some greed all in the name of business.

As for the content, this Mini- CD replicates the packaging extremely well and that is right down to the logo engraved dust sleeve on the opposite side of the lyrics. I was surprised to see the back-cover concert photo unblemished after reading that North American versions are touched-up so that only Ozzy is visible. (I don't even want to see it) For those who never held the original, it might not mean too much, but for those who did, or those who want a touch of the feeling of what it was like when it was first released, it can be an attractive proposition. Other than the packaging, the highlight is undoubtedly the bonus track "You Lookin' at Me Lookin' at You." I will have to seek out the original UK version to see how it REALLY should sound, but I never heard the track before and the solo was awesome as would be expected. Anyway, based on integrity, I would pass this one up because it does not truly represent the original with that 2002 re-recording. No amount of care in the packaging or a butchered bonus track can make up for that fact. Actually, the whole thing is even more confusing when you see all the original credits for Daisley and Kerslake on the back cover! (It's like the whole Creatures of the Night cover Saga) Why not take it the extra step and include the original performances? I know that Sony Music Japan International operates as a separate company than its U.S. counterpart, but my guess is that the Osbourne estate must have contractual stipulations there as well, but it is funny if those supposed stipulations would not include the original artwork and packaging.

In a metaphorical way (to certain people) the music of Ozzy Osbourne effectively died with Randy Rhoads in that plane crash, but with these re-recordings they have found a way to take him from us again. He really does become the inadvertent casualty in this misguided endeavor. That may be the saddest thing of all.

Not recommended! Fight the Power and find an original copy or the 95 remaster and just forget the packaging.

Track listing
1. I Don't Know
2. Crazy Train
3. Goodbye To Romance
4. Dee
5. Suicide Solution
6. Mr. Crowley
7. No Bone Movies
8. Steal Away (The Night)
9. You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You (not listed on the back cover)

Added: July 7th 2007
Reviewer: Hugh Dark
Related Link: Ozzy Website
Hits: 2863
Language: english

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