Sunday, November 13, 2011
Please don't take any offense here. I like you. You actually seem like a good guy, in your own charmingly deluded and addled way. Not to mention, I know you're smart. You've let people pay attention to how you sound when you try to listen to your mumbling, shambling speech patterns too much, because it makes them underestimate you.
I'm not fooled, though. I grew up reading interviews with you in magazines, where when everything gets strung together, it's clearly intelligent.
Most of all, though, I'm a fan from way back. You signed my copy of Bark at the Moon at Tower Records in Seattle when I was 13.
I've also long held up your Black Sabbath years as definitive. Even as my admiration for the Ronnie James Dio-era increased as time went on, I still openly said it should've most likely been given a new band name, y'know, like Heaven & Hell.
But I read Black Sabbath reunite to release new album and tour by Beatrice Woolf, or any of the identical stories about, and I worry.
Look, Ozzy, there isn't a terrifically easy way of putting this, but most of us fans don't think you've done much worthwhile in a long time. Probably, even the most generous of us, would put it before Reunion.
And believe me, we don't want to be nay-sayers. Deep inside me is still the biggest fan ever standing in a long line at a parking lot, trying to explain to his parents why they should let him wait.
That was probably why most people treated "Psycho Man" and "Selling My Soul", the new songs on "Reunion", with kid-gloves. It's the original Sabbath and it's cool that they're even getting along, playing classic songs and even trying to do new songs.
At that time, your fellow Sabs were coming off Forbidden, which is absolutely awful on every level.
(Even being generous and dismissing "Forbidden" as fulfilling a contract, Cross Purposes has its moments, but was not well received overall.)
(Hell, even being extra generous and going back to their previous high profile release, Dehumanizer which reunited them with Dio, was hardly well regarded in its time, even if it has gained some respectability over time.)
At that time, you all were considered to have little room to go but up qualitatively, so it was no wonder that everyone came at the material with a spirit of generosity.
Now, however, your reputation is... well... largely unchanged, which says a lot more about how absolutely amazing your early output is, both with Sabbath and as a solo artist, as well as how likeable you seem to be a person than it does about your recent output, which is, at best forgettable. I guess forgettable is good, because we can just remember how great Paranoid and Diary of a Madman are.
I've got to warn you, though. The Devil You Know is one of the best things in the Black Sabbath catalog (even if it's not officially listed with it). I don't know if you've taken the time to spin it, or anyone else has given you that news with the right emphasis.
Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are not coming off an Ernie C produced disaster throwaway. They seem to Heavy Metal enthusiasts and Black Sabbath fans to be at about the top of their game.
Even I, as a life-long Ozzy-partisan in the Sabbath debate, have to agree.
You need to bring your A Game to this one. If this album sucks, or is even just another bit of forgettable metallic pabulum, it will look like you brought them down, not the other way.
They can finally reunite with Ian Gillan - Yes, I know that won't happen, but I can dream - or start some other new supergroup with Rob Halford or whoever else is available, and release another album of anything like the credibility of "The Devil You Know", and you become the thing that went wrong, no matter what anyone says.
Mind you, I'm sure you'll still be able to line-up some big Ozzfest lineups and make plenty more money, off a mountain of goodwill and great songs. If that's all you want, that's great.
But then, if that's all you wanted, why bother to even take a shot at a Sabbath reunion, right?
You already did the big money, headline around the world tour with a Sabbath reunion. Presumably, you're hoping to make one last grab at credibility and proving your legacy. I hope so, because I'd love to hear the album you 4 guys could make at the top of your games 30 years later and rocking just as hard.
Good luck, sir!