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Ozzy at the top of his game. - 88%

TrooperEd, August 10th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1995, 2CD, Sony Music (Reissue, Remastered)

I stand by my statement that Tribute is definitive live Ozzy recording, but this sucker (which has sadly and mysteriously fallen out of print) should not be underestimated. I don't think one can be quite prepared for exactly how lethal the combination of Zakk Wylde, Mike Inez, Randy Castillo and Ozzy Osbourne was for his supposedly "final" tour. My copy of this album disappeared some time ago, but I do like to check it on youtube from time to time for nostalgia purposes (this was one of my first, if not the first live albums I ever owned), and dammit, every time I do I'm blown away. I'd put this lineup up against Slayer, Metallica, Pantera, Judas Priest and whatever other bands were hailed as the premier live performers in hard rock and metal in 1991-93. Of course, they might not always win (in Metallica's case it would depend on how many fast songs they felt like playing that night), but you'd best believe they'd draw blood.

The setlist is kind of average. Plenty of songs from No More Tears, which is fine, as it was Ozz's latest album and I think No More Tears is great anyway, but we only get one song from Diary, Bark, No Rest For The Wicked and Ultimate Sin a piece. I'll admit that there are certain Blizzard staples that should never leave Ozz's set, like Crazy Train, I Don't Know and Mr. Crowley, but did we really need another version Goodbye To Romance, Suicide Solution and Flying High Again (yes I know that's a Diary song, my point still stands). Rumor has it Zakk talked Ozzy into busting out Snowblind for this tour, why isn't that here? Particularly since we already got a serviceable version of War Pigs on the Just Say Ozzy EP. We also have Black Sabbath near the end performed with all the original members of the band, and fuckin A, this version is just fucking heavy, particularly the final section. The off-kilter jazz feel is gone, substituted for a straight rhythm but that only serves to highlight one of the most nightmarish leads Mr. Iommi has laid down.

Unnecessary tracks? The drum and guitar solos, which, Randy and Zakk are obviously fine players, but unless your name is Neil Peart or, um, Randy Rhoads, you have no business laying down a solo on an album to be heard again and again (strangely, these solos were absent from the live video, and those are the sorts of things that should be seen AND heard). There's also Changes, which, I don't hate this song, but it was clearly tacked on at the end to have not a dry eye in the house at the prospect of never seeing or hearing Ozzy again. Well, here we are 25+ years later and Ozzy still hasn't retired (and he said he wouldn't despite as of this writing being on No More Tours 2), so there's no use crying over what isn't dead yet.

Definitely give this a listen, although finding a physical copy will prove quite problematic. Snag it used in a record store....wait, those are going out of print too. FUUUUUUUU