Hammersmith Blizzard (Shades 140)
Hammersmith Odeon, London England UK. September 20, 1980
(66:21) Carmina Burana, I Don’t Know, Looking At You, Looking At Me, Crazy Train, Goodbye To Romance, No Bone Movies, Mr. Crowley, Suicide Solution, Guitar Solo / Suicide Solution Reprise, Drum Solo, Revolution (Mother Earth) Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Steal Away (The Night), Paranoid
In September 1980 Ozzy Osbourne unleashed his new band onto British audiences, dubbed the Blizzard Of Ozz the group consisted of American virtuoso guitarist Randy Rhoads, former Rainbow bassist Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake of Uriah Heep fame and keyboard player Linsdey Bridgewater (filling in for one Don Airey who did the keyboards on the Blizzard record but was unable to do the tour).
The Blizzard of Ozz record was released the same month and peaked at number 7 in the UK charts and the 29 date tour was very successful, with the idea on making a full scale assault on the United States the band immediately went in the studio and recording the masterpiece Diary Of A Madman. Soon afterwards the rhythm section of Daisley and Kerslake were sacked and replaced by the duo of former Black Oak Arkansas drummer Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo on bass who had played with Rhoads in Quiet Riot.
With the original band playing so few dates it is nice to see the Shades label releasing a show from the tour, culled from an audience recording made at the famed London venue the Hammersmith Odeon. The recording is distant but very clear and enjoyable with all instruments and vocals coming through clearly and is a very nice document. The recording starts with the Carmina intro, a perfect opening for the Prince of Darkness, from there the band launches into I Don’t Know, the sound improves during the first minute and stays consistent for the rest of the show.
Ozzy has not forgotten how to work a crowd, during the slower middle section the crowd is clapping. Second song in the set is the rarity You Looking At Me, Looking At You. The song found its way to collectors via the My Crowley EP along with another rarity You Said It All, Ozzy is fired up and tell the fans down front to do whatever they want to do…”Ozzy’s Back In Town!”.
Randy plays some fiery leads throughout, the song has a lot of riffing and is similar in vein to No Bone movies. The crowd gives the next song a loud cheer, Crazy Train has a longer intro to the 1981 version most are familiar with, the crowd is one their feet and clapping along. The band itself has a looser feel, Kerslake was a solid drummer who used one bass drum and was not one for being a “busy” player but was rock solid none the less.
In fact the songs are very similar to the recorded versions, Rhoads was such an amazing player he hits the solos with note to note perfection. Ozzy leads the crowd along to the chorus during Goodbye To Romance, the keyboards are pretty much nonexistent through the song and has an almost acoustic vibe to it, not one to be shy Ozzy drops F bombs through the show, a nice one just a Randy starts his solo.
Lindsey Bridgewater plays an interesting solo before playing the familiar notes of Mr Crowley, Ozzy sounds very ominous as he says “Let me see your hands”. Randy always plays his ass off during this song and this version is no different, the outro solo is a favorite on fine and the crowds, they roar their approval at its conclusion. Ozzy pauses for some crowd participation between songs, he is fired up and gets them the same way and the band plows into Suicide Solution, Kerslake is playing some great fills and the short marching patterns perfectly, the crowd is behind the band totally by now as the song evolves into the Randy solo spot, a flurry of notes with substance, he did not play fast and furious to prove he could it always had purpose and structure….brilliant stuff.
My favorite song of the set is the ultra heavy Revelation Moth Earth, with its symphony played by a four piece metal band it is perfection, the gentle beginning followed by the almost gothic keyboard section and Rhoads demolishing the crowd with the heavy riff part, Kerslake play some interesting marching style pattern during his solo that is different and interesting.
The duo of Sabbath songs throws the crowd into insanity, they respond to the classic by clapping and singing the lyrics, the band and audience are at one and the good vibes are flowing. Iron Man of course goes right into Children Of The Grave, the latter is different than the more famous versions from 1981, Randy’s solo is tentative and far less effective and you can tell they have not yet developed the structure that the Aldridge / Sarzo band would.
That being said the playing is still superb and very interesting, I used to have the Chelmsford October 22 1980 gig on bootleg but it is since long gone so I found playing refreshingly different from my collection of 81-82 Rhoads era boots. Curiously Steal Away The Night finishes the main set, usually linked nonstop with Revelation the rollicking song, the band are not gone long and come back for the encore of Paranoid, again with some nice solo improvisation by Randy and again the crowd handles the back ground vocals and the show is over with a Ozzy trademark “WE LOVE YOU ALL !” and the chants of “OZZY….OZZY”. A very enjoyable gig.
As I do with most of the bands I Like, I read books that give me back ground information while enjoying the music, one that is highly recommended is Gary Sharpe-Young’s book, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath The Battle For Black Sabbath. it not only goes into major detail of the post Ozzy Sabbath projects but also the Ozzy solo groups, a must for all Sabbath / Ozzy fans.
The packaging is simple color inserts in a jewel case, there are a couple common live shots of Randy and some shots of the original four piece band. With so many Ozzy releases coming out on cd-r, it is nice to see the recent Tarantura Ozzy release and this Shades set out for collectors to enjoy.
It’s informed and thorough reviews like this that make CMR so invaluable to a collector considering a release. For me, it makes the difference between going the next step and getting the title, or taking a pass. Relayer67’s sold me on this one, and I thank him for the review.