Definitive London 1980 (Zodiac 463)
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England, UK – September 20, 1980
(66:20) 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
Of the 37 gigs the original Blizzard Of Ozz band played there are just 11 known recordings from these dates, the number of bootleg records or CDs from these shows is sadly less. Far and wide the best of the 1980 recordings is the Chelmsford Odeon, October 22, 1980 concert originally found on the vinyl title Blizzard Of Ozz On Tour (Roxy Records OZ-801022) and CD titles Live At Chelmsford Odeon (Twin Tails Records BGS-1993-11), and Chelmsford Complete (Bondage Music BON292). The only other recordings on bootleg are the Newcastle, October 17, 1980 date found on the vinyl title Deadly Deeds (HRS 4290) and the first night at Hammersmith, September 20, 1980 found on Hammersmith Blizzard (Shades 140).
There is precious little that has been officially released, the live Mr. Crowley EP plus Goodbye To Romance and No Bone Movies from Tribute were taken from the Southampton, October 2, 1980 concert. There is a live version of I Don’t Know that was the B-Side to Flying High Again which I think was taken from there as well. I also believe a portion of the Ozzy Live record released as part of the Diary Of A Madman Legacy set could be from Southampton as well. The rest of the official and unofficial live Randy era stuff is from the 1981-1982 era with Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge, the bootlegs on both vinyl and CD are also treasured items in my collection.
I guess where I’m going with this is that live recordings made by the original Blizzard Of Ozz band, Ozzy, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, and Lee Kerslake are few and far between and far under represented in the world of bootlegs. Why do we care? There is a certain charm and level of musicianship found within the recordings of the Blizzard Of Ozz studio and live material. Ozzy has always had excellent musicians in his band and this is not to discount them, but IMO they will always be below that original combo. When you listen to the Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman records, they are simply perfect, nothing needs to be changed or improved upon, there is nothing overplayed or overly bombastic, it serves the song not the individual performer. Timeless music that sounds as fresh and exciting as it did 41 years ago, of course I am saying this as I blast out my near mint vinyl first pressing promo copy of Blizzard Of Ozz. In my book there are not enough of the 1980 live shows in the collectors market, when one is released, it instantly becomes a must buy even if it’s another version of the first night at Hammersmith, September 20, 1980, the subject of this review.
This new title from Zodiac claims to be from a new source, not the one used for Hammersmith Blizzard and after listening to it and comparing the crowd noise and overall sound this claim is true. We’ll call Hammersmith Blizzard source 1 and this Zodiac title source 2. Source 1 is a near complete audience recording that favors the mid and upper frequencies. The new source 2 is a less complete audience recording that has a few cuts between songs and ends 1:44 into Paranoid, this recording favors the mid to lower frequencies and it also has a warmer sound to it. The bass and drums also have a bit more definition in source 2, a bit more punch to it. Ozzy’s between song banter is louder and clearer on source 1, both sources are equal in crowd noise, both sources are very enjoyable recordings with the edge going to source 2 as the sound is just a little fuller. Source 1 is used to fill the gaps in source 2 and the splices were well done, it is only during Paranoid you really know the source has changed.
The performance is excellent, the audience is very enthused and familiar with the new music from Ozzy and his cohorts, the Blizzard Of Ozz band are very tight and obviously well rehearsed, the chemistry between musicians is unspoken. Bob Daisley speaks about this period in his book, For Facts Sake, as being around the time Sharon Arden first began to speak to him about releasing Lee Kerslake and bringing in Tommy Aldridge, curious that the wheels were in motion by this point. He also said there were a lot of Rock stars at the two Hammersmith dates, guys from Uriah Heep and Michael Schenker to name a few.
Ozzy is spot on in this performance, vocally he is very good and puts a lot of effort into the performance. He tells the crowd to not let the security push them into their seats, they paid their money go where they want. He pulls the audience into the performance with his usual audience participation methods most notifiable before Suicide Solution. For those who have not heard the 1980 recordings they are very intimate, the band sound very close to the original versions found on the Blizzard record, Randy’s solo is short and doesn’t have that long band jam that the 1981-82 recordings do. They play the B-Side to Crazy Train, You Looking At Me Looking At You which is a great addition to the set, it smokes in the live setting. Revelation (Mother Earth) does not segue into Steal Away, the later is played after the Sabbath songs. The vibe of these concerts is electric, Ozzy had successfully reinvented himself and seemingly overnight made his former band mates seem out of touch with the new sound of Metal music. It was fun going back and reading my review of Hammersmith Blizzard from 10 years ago, an update to that review, I was able to get a another copy of the Chelmsford boot a few years back, a lost treasure now home.
The packaging is excellent, the front cover is a classic black and white shot of the band, Ozzy going crazy. All photographs used are of the original band with the Blizzard Of Ozz graphics from the first album, a beautiful looking package. This is an excellent release, all I can do is say we need more from this era of Ozzy. Average sounding tapes, alternate recording, who cares, we need more of the Original Blizzard.