Release Year: 1981
Ever since he was kicked out of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne has had a successful solo career. Though his debut will always be one of his best, his second effort has its own strong qualities. While not every song is interesting or hard hitting, there is a slight shift in content. You won’t find any Mr. Crowley’s here. Some of the darkness from the previous album remains, but it seems Ozzy has a different outlook on this record.
“Over the Mountain” starts the album off on a bang with a rolling drumbeat and chugging riffs. It gets your head banging right off the bat. Ozzy seems to move away from dark connotations here with lyrics featuring more psychedelic images like “Over the mountain, kissing silver inlaid clouds/Watching my body disappear into the crowd.” It’s one of the more notable tracks on the LP. The lyrics of “Flying High Again” have several different theories behind them. With mentions of being a “bad boy” and seeing through mountains, and the repetition of “flying high again” it’s easy to assume the track is about drugs. Yet, others claim it’s about Ozzy’s career and how he was in demand once he was fired from Black Sabbath. Either way both theories fit; whatever he’s singing about Ozzy sounds pretty optimistic about it.
“You Can’t Kill Rock & Roll” begins like a cheesy 80s ballad with the slow, lighter music and the acoustic guitars. Ozzy even sounds like he’s trying to be sentimental when he’s singing. It’s enough to put you to sleep, until the chorus kicks in with the guitars and drumming pick up and Ozzy sings about rock & roll as his religion. From there, things get more interesting since the music keeps building the longer the song plays. Also, the lyrics show a more sentimental side to the Prince of Darkness and how out of everything in life the music is the only thing that hasn’t let him down: “The things they will do and the things they will say/When they don’t really understand/Fear of rejection, I need their protection/I’m making a stand.” The same can’t be said for “Tonight.” The track is a bit too slow and the soft, acoustic music gets boring after the first minute. It tries to wake up the listener during the chorus by bringing in distortion, but it’s not very effective. It’s also pretty repetitive and doesn’t really hold your attention for long.
The two best songs on the LP are “Believer” and the title track. “Believer” opens with a low, guttural bass line you feel deep in the pit of your stomach with eerie sounds swirling around it. Then that kick ass riff that’s dirty and intense as hell, starts up and adds a sinister tone to the song. The music sounds pretty damning and evil, especially as it races to the end, but the lyrics are actually positive. It’s all about believing in yourself if you want others to feel the same. If no one believes in you, then who will? “Diary of a Madman” is a whole experience in itself. Everything here sounds so well thought out from the somber lyrics to the clashing music. Randy Rhoads shows off his skills with an opening riff that has a classical vibe and ends up sounding really pretty. This slowly transforms into the main riff that sounds like it was ripped from Hell. While the music sounds likes doomsday is near, the lyrics are depressing. They map out the tale of a man who’s losing control and not sure whether he’s of sound mind. Ozzy sings “sanity now beyond me/there’s no choice” making the topic full circle. As the song ends, a choir of eerie voices rises up sounding like angels in lament. It’s a fantastic song and one that doesn’t get as much appreciation as some of his others.
Ozzy is the undisputed Prince of Darkness, but he seems to lighten up a bit for his second outing. That element of darkness is still there, but it’s not as prevalent as it was on his solo debut. There are still many killer songs here both show casing Ozzy’s talent and Randy Rhoads’ flair. Not every song is perfect, but most of them are sure to get you head banging. The music kicks ass, Ozzy’s vocals are unmistakable, and the songs are memorable. If anything this album showed how Ozzy wasn’t just a one trick pony. He had many great songs up his sleeve, many of which would become classics later in his career.