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I am generally not a big fan of compilations because they are geared towards something which I am not, a pedestrian metal fan, ergo someone who likes the radio friendly versions of the heavy metal genre. The only exceptions I make are when the artists are directly involved in the process and when there are plenty of rarities included as I tend to already own all of the albums in a particular band’s catalog or plan to if they are worthy of my listening time. This compilation is among those that I am not particularly fond of, but it also suffers due to some other motives that I fear caused the release of the rarities that are present on here.
The Black Sabbath demos on here are elucidating as to the nature of the early work that Sabbath put together before the final 1st and 2nd albums were produced, but the fact that they are included in this compilation at this time brings about some questions. The famed Black Sabbath reunion of all the original members of the band coincided with this compilations release, suggesting that Ozzy was reaching into the Sabbath well once again in order to establish credibility with older fans, as well as to promote what I personally thought was an overblown reunion, resulting in a handful of tour appearances and 2 rather poorly written new songs.
The demo songs themselves are obviously of poor sound quality due to obsolete recording equipment being in use at the time, the drums sounding too think and the bass being way too loud. Ozzy’s singing is absolutely abysmal, especially during the verses of “Black Sabbath”, and sometimes I have a hard time understanding the words due to poor pronunciation. The extra verse present on this song is clearly not necessary both lyrically and musically and makes the song drag on way too long, which was probably due to the influence of overlong hippie rock songs at the time. “War Pigs” has completely different words, and though at the time I’m sure the things said on here were quite provocative, today it’s quite tame compared to what is often put in songs.
The Randy Rhodes material on here is obviously quality stuff if you take Ozzy’s inability to sing out of the picture, as well as the fact that these songs are by far the most overplayed of the bunch (not only on radio, but also in Guitar Shops such as the one I work in). The Jake E. Lee material has obviously been given the shaft and only occupies 2 song slots on here (1 if you get the 2002 reissue); the latter song “Shot in the Dark” contains Ozzy’s best vocal performance, primarily because he doesn’t go into his high range.
The Zakk Wylde stuff is a bit of a mixed bag, the earlier stuff being mostly good while the later stuff flirting with pure mediocrity. “Crazy Babies” is a fun and totally 80s cock rock inspired song, while “No More Tears” (the only good song on that album) is musically interesting despite Ozzy’s singing. “Mama I’m coming home” is a boring, redundant, pointless ballad that induces sleep between the lackluster guitar solo and the hypnotically repetitive acoustic theme. “I just want you” is atmospherically interesting, but lyrically it’s so nonsensical that it ruins it. Ozzy says there is no this, he says there is no that, while I’m just thinking there is no point at all. “Back on Earth” is essentially a better version of the last song mentioned with better vocals and a shorter guitar solo, probably the only good rarity to come out of this release.
To those contemplating buying this album, don’t waste your money unless you want a watered down version of both Randy Rhoades’ and Jake E. Lee’s contributions to Ozzy’s survival as a musician. Zakk Wylde had his moments, but I don’t think it warrants having an equal footing with Rhoades and completely dwarfing Jake E. Lee on a greatest hits release. The Ozzman may have Cometh, but only in the sense of an impotent old man trying to plant his seed in a younger generation of mindless pseudo-metal heads.