Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, USA – April 1, 1986
Disc 1 (60:14) Opening, Carl Orff Carmina Burana, Bark At The Moon, Suicide Solution, Never Know Why, Mr. Crowley, Shot In The Dark, I Don’t Know, Killer Of Giants, Guitar Solo, Thank God For The Bomb, Flying High Again, Secret Loser, Drum Solo, Secret Loser (reprise)
Disc 2 (64:38) The Ultimate Sin, Iron Man, Crazy Train, Paranoid. Bonus Tracks – Donington Park, England – August 16, 1986: Never Know Why, Mr. Crowley, Shot In The Dark, I Don’t Know, Killer Of Giants, Thank God For The Bomb, Iron Man, Crazy Train, Paranoid
Ozzy’s gig in Kansas City at Kemper Arena has been circulating for years in a few different formats, first off a near complete video was released as The Ultimate Ozzy, a home video released by CBS Fox video in 1986. The audio only portion was broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and is currently available on the Wolfgang’s Vault site. Since Ozzy has pretty much disowned this period of his career not much will be done officially to present this material so one must turn to the collectors market to see and hear this material.
It being an excellent recording means there have been previous releases, The Ultimate Metallian (AC 241945) was a 2LP vinyl release from the mid 80’s that was copied to CD on Ironic Records (Ironic 004) in 1990, Let’s Go Crazy (Oh Boy 2-9104), and Let’s Go Crazy (The Smiling Pig SP-R-706), Paranoid Man (The Swinging Pig TSP-CD-143) all feature music from this concert. What Zodiac has done is to take the excellent pre broadcast recording from Wolfgang’s and added the Secret Loser and Drum Solo from the Ultimate Ozzy package to offer the complete concert. The sound is excellent with all instruments and vocals being clear in the mix with a full range of frequencies. The balance is also superb, although for my tastes the keyboards are a bit high in the mix, it does take away from the potency of Jake E Lee’s guitar but this is a minor quibble. The mastering of the two sources is superb with no real lowering of quality between them, this sounds great when played loud…so turn it up.
The recording begins with a fake introduction…”But now if your ready, and I know you are, Ladies and Gentlemen lights camera action…the Ultimate Ozzy Osbourne”, kinda cheesy but it was the 80’s. Carmina is the intro and the band hit the stage to rapturous applause and Bark At The Moon is the first song, classic Ozzy and smoking riffage from Jake gets things off in fine fashion. The band he had on this tour was great, Jake on guitar, Phil Soussan on bass, John Sinclair on keys and the late Randy Castillo on drums, the rhythm section was a powerhouse. The set list would feature only one song from Bark, but features a nice chunk of songs from The Ultimate Sin, five in total plus some of the now classic Randy material.
Cool to hear a version of Suicide Solution sans solo, basic like the Blizzard record and still effective being so early in the set, like Mr. Crowley and I Don’t Know the band do not stray far from the original versions although Jake adds some nice flourishes here and there. Never Know Why is pure Hair Metal, I like it better live and would love to hear it sans keyboards, it has a great riff and again Jake plays it heavy and plays a great solo as well, Shot In The Dark was the big video hit and the one track from the record that would have life after this tour. Jake gets a decent solo this time, I thought he got the short end of the stick on the Bark tour as it was too short. This tour it was during Killer of Giants, and he takes full advantage, delivery is a superb example of his fluency and unique style both solo and during the band jam, great stuff. More cold war themed music with Thank God For The Bomb, along with Giants and the title track, for me the real meat of Ultimate Sin.
Secret Loser was the vehicle for the Randy Castillo drum solo, what a player and while it’s great to listen to you have to see him do it, he would start in his regular position then without stopping go to the outside of his kit and do basically a 360 solo around it, and it wasn’t just shtick, he has the chops. The Ultimate Sin, great song, but is the weakest of the songs from the album live, Ozzy’s vocal seems tired. Iron Man features the pre song audience participation chant, love Jake’s guitar tone on this record, his playing of the Sabbath material was unique and Ozzy gives a lot of leeway to play how he wants, of course this is the truncated version and it segues into Crazy Train, very effective. The Paranoid encore is great, again Jake plays the classic riff very uniquely (at the 1:21 mark) very similarly to how he played it at the 1983 US Festival, I have always loved it and cool to hear it here as well.
Zodiac rounds out the second disc with the 45 minute FM broadcast of Ozzy’s performance at Monsters Of Rock festival at Donington Park in August 1986. This is not the first time Zodiac has presented this recording, they used it on Monsters Of Rock (Zodiac 192) a nice package collecting a complete audience audio recording, an audience shot video and this FM broadcast version. The sound quality is excellent pre FM recording, balance is perfect and frequency range is more guitar heavy and ballsy than the Kansas City materiel. The band is on a big stage, Donington was a prestigious festival and the band bring their A game and the recording benefits from the keyboards being lower in the mix, this really rocks and while it’s not the whole show, the 45 minute fragment is more than satisfying and is a nice addition to this set.
The packaging is typical Zodiac, full color mostly posed promo shots of Ozzy and band, the front cover insert folds open to a pic of the girl from the video in her Ultimate Sin guise. Picture CD’s, numbered sticker, Folks this one has it all. Zodiac so many times releases CD’s with short times, never adding additional material so the fact that they went the extra yard and rounded off this set with additional music gets extra points in my book, for me this is the definite Ultimate Sin era boot.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)