Odeon Theatre, Chelmsford, U.K. – October 22, 1980
(65:44) Carl Off: Carmina Burana, I Don’t Know, You Looking At Me Looking At You, Crazy Train, Goodbye To Romance, No Bone Movies, Mr. Crowley, Revelation (Mother Earth), Suicide Solution, Guitar Solo / Suicide Solution (reprise), Drum Solo, Iron Main, Children Of The Grave, Steal Away (The Night), Paranoid
The best live audience recording of the original Blizzard Of Ozz is far and away the Chelmsford Odeon October 22, 1980 concert. The singular recording is of excellent quality, the balance is perfect with all instruments and vocals being clear in the mix. The taper was in an excellent position and the recording is front and center, there is certainly a bit of crowd noise at times but it only adds to the atmosphere and sheer enjoyment of listening. This recording has circulated for years, The Wild Man Returns (Turtle Inc 33880) was a 2-LP set featuring the complete concert. Blizzard Of Ozz On Tour (Roxy Records OZ-801022) is a single LP missing Revelation (Mother Earth) and Paranoid. Live At Chelsmford Odeon (Twin-Tails Records BGS-1993-11) is an early CD press that is a needle drop of the incomplete Blizzard Of Ozz On Tour LP. Lastly is a CD that has eluded me, Chelmsford Complete (Bondage BON292) features the complete recording (based upon track listing) plus supposed demo’s from the Blizzard Of Ozz album.
I have both the Blizzard Of Ozz On Tour (Roxy Records OZ-801022) LP and Live At Chelsmford Odeon (Twin-Tails Records BGS-1993-11) titles in my collection, the latter has been a mainstay of my live Ozzy collection. I have always wanted a complete version of this concert for my collection, and being that all the above titles are long out of print, actually finding copies can be challenging. The folks at the Zodiac label have answered my prayers with this release. When I listen to my OG Live At Chelsmford Odeon, first thing I notice is the snap crackle pop of the needle on vinyl, there are a couple drop outs but as the band takes the stage this near thirty year old title sounds damn good. This new Zodiac has a greatly improved sound, warmer with a much better range of frequencies, the bottom end is much better and not thin sounding, certainly coming from an excellent transfer of an analog source versus a needle drop.
Performance wise this is Grade A Ozz Man. The band had been touring England for well over a month and word had certainly been getting out. As Carmina Burana is played there is anticipation building and when Ozzy arrives onstage and asks “Are you ready to Rock and Roll?” the answer is a resounding yes. Someone very close to the taper announced I Don’t Know just before the band began, obviously familiar with the set. The clarity in this recording is astounding, Lee Kerslake’s drums are beautifully captured, Bob Daisley’s Bass is clear and Randy Rhoads’ guitar is stunning. The band hammer out I Don’t Know with conviction, Randy adds a bunch of lead flurries, they may not know but I certainly do. While most may thing You Looking At Me Looking At You is an interesting addition to the set there is good reason, it was the B-side to the first single off the album, Crazy Train. This is one track where you can hear the influence of Randy’s style as it sounds similar in structure to the early Quiet Riot material, certainly heavier by all accord.
Ozzy tells the audience he wants to see them dancing in the isles as they begin Crazy Train, Lindsey Bridgewater plays an interesting variation of the riff which compliments Randy’s and fills out the sound, Lee Kerslake’s drumming is very powerful and serves the song, far from the Tommy Aldridge bombastic fury that would follow. Goodbye To Romance is beautifully played by all four musicians, perhaps the one song that showed that this new band could be diverse musically, not just Hard Rock. No Bone Movies seems to divide fans, I love it and it’s a monster live. Randy adds this revved up part towards the end that raises the energy of the song even more and certainly gets one into a head banging mood.
It’s well known that Don Airey played keyboards on the Blizzard Of Ozz album but did not initially tour with the band, Lindsey Bridgewater would do the duties on this first UK tour as well as several other tours over the next few years. His playing on Mr. Crowley is spot on yet he adds his own color sound to the song. Crowley is a Randy masterpiece, his playing on this song is nothing short of astounding. Either the studio or live, there is not a note out of place. He adds flourishes here and there, never overpowering just adding. He simply nails the solo making it sound effortless, having never seen him play I can only imagine what the fans thought. There is a tape cut after the song, no music missed, certainly for a tape flip and when we resume we get Ozz’s introduction of Revelation (Mother Earth) being about the planet being ravaged by war. My love for this song runs deep, this is an excellent played version, the beginning part sounds average then when Randy gets into the heavy part and his solo he lets rip a jaw dropping solo.
Randy is introduced by Ozzy as being gay, the joke goes nowhere and the band rip into Suicide Solution. Of course the song features his solo spot, the UK 1980 solo spots were kept to a minimum, Randy takes a solo with no band accompaniment, his solo is followed by a brief Kerslake drum solo, nothing extravagant. These solos are not indulgent, the meat of the playing is found in the songs. Iron Man is from the “old Sabbath days” and features Ozz doing a bit of audience shout along to the count of three, the whole sounds a bit disjointed but he eventually gets the reaction he wants. Iron Man is standard but for those who are used to the solo Ozzy versions of Children Of The Grave you are in for a treat. The original band plays it differently than latter versions of Ozzy’s band, Lee’s drum patterns are different and Randy’s playing is not as honed as it would become, his solo is phenomenal.
Steal Away (The Night) is late in the set and acts as the set closer, I’ve always liked it following Revelation (Mother Earth) but damn it works well in this spot too. The band play a ripping super energetic version that brings the house down, the crowd responds loudly and instantly begin clambering for more, the same punter who says I Don’t Know at the beginning is shouting Paranoid. Chants of “Ozzy…Ozzy” followed by foot stomping get the band back onstage. Ozzy asks them what they want to hear, Paranoid is their answer to which he responds “I think I know that one”. Paranoid is excellent, Lee and Bob play the song more straightforward which works to the songs original feel, the tempo is a bit faster as Rhoads plays a masterful version of the song. “Thank you goodnight WE LOVE YOU ALL!”
The packaging is rather bland, Zodiac uses a black and white color scheme for the outer inserts, the interior features color shots of the band from this tour that would have made a more interesting and much better cover IMO. It’s the music that counts and this release hits on all marks, the sound quality is superb as is the performance. This is hands above the best audience source from the original Blizzard Of Ozz band, to be able to hear the origins of Ozzy’s career as a solo artist and the iconic playing of Randy Rhoads cannot be understated. This recording has not made the rounds in decades, now is your chance to get it.
This is an essential release.