Ozzy Osbourne

Memoirs of a Madman

Memoirs of a Madman

Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 07 November, 2014
Link: Official Website

Memoirs forgets the early years

Best of releases are relatively entertaining and interesting releases to review usually. True fans, the hardcore, die-hard fans probably don’t give two shits about them really because they have every conceivable release, re-release, special release, limited edition release as well as overseas versions with bonus tracks, spelling errors and bonus guitar picks or what have you. They would only pick up a “greatest hits” collection because they have to have everything. They’ll never be satisfied with them because something isn’t right, or they tracks are bastardized (aka remastered) and not the true original sounding releases.

For everyone else that doesn’t want or need to buy every album of a band et cetera, a best of compilation is more than adequate usually. These days, it’s not unusual to see multiple best of releases released for artists with lengthy careers. They come in varied sizes – multiple CD deluxe versions, compact “best of the best of the best” type single releases, boxsets, whatever. But when you’re dealing with an artist that has a solo career that spans 34 years, there’s no doubt that a single disc with a physical limit of 80 minutes of music is rather limiting for a best of.

Here in lies the problem with Ozzy Osbourne’s Memoirs of a Madman greatest hits CD. It’s being plugged as “compiled in one place for the first time in his career”. That’s all well and good I guess if people really cared about CDs these days like say 10 years ago. Let’s be honest, whilst the CD isn’t dead, we all love the convenience of digital, don’t we? That aside, the label’s compelling selling point above comes at a cost. Quite simply there are a couple of quintessential Ozzy tracks that should be on this compilation that aren’t. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Let’s focus on the positives though. As you’d expect, the classics such as “Crazy Train”, “Mr. Crowley”, “Bark at the Moon” and “Miracle Man” are here amongst others from Ozzy’s earliest and what many would describe as his best years. They make up the first seven tracks. The remaining ten are from Ozzy’s more commercially successfully era which began with 1991’s No More Tears album through until now. There’s nothing too surprising with what’s here including the edited version of “No More Tears”, “Mama I’m Coming Home”, “Perry Mason” and “Gets Me Through”. Included is also his 2003 cover of the Black Sabbath song “Changes” that he did with daughter Kelly, as well as the lead singles from his last two studio albums.

But here is where I take issue with Memoirs of a Madman. In saying this though, the tracklist of a best of is always like a concert set list. Something will be included or excluded that will become a point of discussion. That said, whilst Paranoid is the signature Black Sabbath track, I’d argue against its inclusion on a single disc Ozzy greatest hits package for two reasons. Firstly, it’s inclusion is at the sacrifice of undeniable classics like “Diary of a Madman” and “Suicide Solution” on an album that is already skewed towards his later releases, and secondly, with the reactivation of Sabbath in recent times, just put it on a Sabbath best of and let this Ozzy best of be just about his solo career. It might be Ozzy and his band playing the Sabbath setlist staple, but just let Sabbath do it and be done with it.

A little over a decade ago, this very same label, Epic Records, released a two CD compilation titled The Essential Ozzy Osbourne. This double disc collection is excellent and very thorough in the tracks included up to that point of his career. Ozzy has only had two new studio albums since then plus the aforementioned duo with his daughter. Sure they needed to be covered here but I still think the tracklist on Memoirs... could have been better.

I guess if you just want a concise Ozzy best of, this is good enough. It’s complete in that it covers everything from 1980 until now but that doesn’t make it great. If you’re after a more well rounded and thorough collection of Ozzy’s work, do yourself a favour and track down the 2003 double disc best of and then buy the extra three tracks from this one off from your favourite digital store.

Epic Records/Sony Music Australia

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