Kalamazoo 1982 (Zodiac 406)
Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI, USA – February 9, 1982
(70:50) Diary Of A Madman (intro), Over The Mountain, Mr. Crowley, Crazy Train, Revelation (Mother Earth), Steal Away (The Night), Suicide Solution, Guitar Solo, Drum Solo, Goodbye To Romance, I Don’t Know, No Bone Movies, Believer, Flying High Again, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid
There are two known soundboard recordings from the Diary Of A Madman tour recorded before Randy Rhoads’ tragic death on March 19, 1982. The first is January 15, 1982 at the Met Center, Bloomington, MN that was released as disc 2 on the Howling Blizzard (Shades 340) title. The second is February 9, 1982 at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo Michigan, this was released on Still Believer (Shout To The Top STTP 066). While both recordings were taped from the soundboard they were not done for radio or other media, certainly done by a member of the crew for what I would guess would be for a member of the band. While they are both well balanced and clear, they sound quite similar and are rather flat recordings, thankfully there is a decent amount of audience in the mix that provides some atmosphere.
The Shout To The Top label had a rather eclectic artist “roster” and when looking over their releases was surprises that I have more of their releases than I initially thought, the Still Believer title being one of them. Quick back story, I grew up less than an hours drive from Kalamazoo and when I began to really get into Rock Music, Wings Stadium was the venue that seemed to bring in all the big acts. In those days you used to have concert advertisements in the Entertainment section of the newspaper and I would cut them out, and I actually have the ad for this Ozzy concert. I was really into Ozzy having had Blizzard Of Ozz, Diary Of A Madman and a concert I taped off the King Biscuit Flower Hour on tape and were in regular rotation. Needless to say having a decent sounding recording from the Kalamazoo concert certainly made the STTP title a must have.
This newly updated title by the Zodiac label is a very nice upgrade over the two decade old Still Believer, it is certainly a better version of the tape with greatly improved frequencies that gives the recording more depth. The bottom end sounds similar so the real work is in the mid and upper frequencies, Randy’s guitar now has a nice crisp sound and it also runs at the correct speed. Whoever did the work on this tape also took it to the edge, you can hear slight mastering effects in the white noise areas of the tape, not an over mastered metallic sound thankfully, a web search shows there is a recent remaster by DOD that may be the source of this title. That being said this version of the recording is better for the mastering applied and it is significantly cleaner and more dynamic than the old STTP boot. Like the Still Believer title, I Don’t Know cuts at the 3:25 spot and the first half of No Bone Movies is missing and starts with “I Shouldn’t Do It The Guilt Tells Me Why”.
Improved sound quality and running at the correct speed makes this recording come alive, the band is in great form and are crackling with energy. Since Diary Of A Madman was recorded late 1980 and finished in March 1981, the band had been playing both Flying High Again and Believer on their 1981 tour dates, the only “new” song to get its live debut would be the concert opener Over The Mountain. Randy’s playing is incredible, Mr. Crowley features some of the most fluent lead playing you will ever hear, it’s not just the amount of notes either, he was brilliant at constructing memorable melodic solos. The interplay between Randy and Don Airey is great, Don certainly had his work cut out for him. They also updated Suicide Solution to feature a nice band jam that leads to a typically astounding Randy solo as well and a Tommy Aldridge drum solo. The effects that Randy used for his solo are quite interesting and give a different tonal quality versus the 1981 soundboards, incredible to hear in this recording.
Having read about Randy since the early 80s it is common knowledge he wasn’t into playing the Black Sabbath material much, so what’s always interesting is how well and uniquely he plays the material. Case in point first is Iron Man, Randy adds all these little leads in, the original Iommi riff poses no interest so he flourishes the hell out of it, while still maintaining the songs original feel. For me, it is Children Of The Grave where Randy excels beyond all comprehension. He begins playing the riff with just a faster tempo then he begins to add leads hear and there then he does almost double time riffs before taking the basic rhythm and evolving it into something unique by the ending, just incredible. Simply put this is an extremely well played, and let’s not forget the OZZ Man, well sung concert that is bristling with energy.
The packaging is the usual fare from Zodiac, nice classic shot of Randy on the cover plus a few other live shots on the rear and interior, of course there’s the picture disc and numbered sticker as well. Essential recording of Randy Rhoads in excellent quality, but in my book, any Randy recording is considered essential. For those who did not have the old STTP title or those who would like an upgrade, do not hesitate in getting this title, it’s recordings like this that showcase how great the early 80s era Ozzy was and why it’s still revered after all these years.