Long Beach Arena 1981 (Zodiac 385)
Long Beach Arena, Long Beach CA, USA – June 27, 1981
(63:56) Carmina Burana, I Don’t Know, Crazy Train, Believer, Mr. Crowley, Flying High Again, Revelation (Mother Earth), Steal Away (The Night), Drum Solo, Suicide Solution, Guitar Solo, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid
Ozzy Osbourne’s first concert in the Los Angeles area as a solo artist took place on June 27, 1981 and was a homecoming show for guitarist Randy Rhoads and bassist Rudy Sarzo. The concert was during the first leg of the North American Blizzard Of Ozz tour, on an insane bill with England’s Motorhead, whose iconic live album No Sleep till Hammersmith was released on the same day as this concert. As a Metal fan, I could only imagine seeing a bill like this, both bands touring with classic line ups and in support of classic metal records.
The recording used for this new release is a good to very good audience source capturing Ozzy’s complete set save for a quick cut at the beginning of the drum solo due to a tape flip. The recording sounds very powerful with the vocals and guitar being clear in the mix, the bass and drums sometimes distort the lower frequencies and thus gives the recording a bit of low end rumble. There is little audience noise by the taper and the recording captures the atmosphere inside the Long Beach Arena, overall a really nice sounding document. This concert was released in the days of vinyl as Long Beach Arena 1981 (XL1531 / XL1532) and its Japanese counterpart Long Beach Arena 1981 (UD 6581/2), this new title by the folks at Zodiac is the first on silver CD.
The set list for the North American tour was made up of songs from the Blizzard Of Ozz record, two songs from the not yet released Diary Of A Madman record plus a few Sabbath Chestnuts. The concerts began with Carmina Burana intro music and the band taking the stage with the blistering I Don’t Know, the lead off track from the Blizzard record. Randy Rhoads was an extremely proficient player who easily recreates the music and would always add a bit more flair when playing live. Like the record, the band go right into Crazy Train, the song was the first single and like Ozzy’s battle cry, as you would expect Randy’s playing on this track is superb, his solos are spot on and so fluent. The band is very tight as well with Tommy Aldridge’s drumming just insane, his fills are incredible and as stated before, make for a very powerful sound.
Ozzy introduces Believer as being from the new record Diary Of A Madman and actually gets a nice round of applause. Rudy’s bass lines are very clear in the mix as one would expect. In his book Off The Rails he states that he was trying too hard to give a great performance in front of the hometown crowd and felt he did not play well, the recording says different. Randy has some guitar issue before his solo that kind of makes for a merely average version of the song. Randy again plays excellent on Mr. Crowley, he adds a lot of little flourishes that never get in the way of the main riff or section, small yet they add so much. His outro is also very nice and also a bit of Hendrix inspired feedback, by now the songs are so familiar to him and he takes these small chances that accentuate the music, making it better.
The taper sounds as if he was pretty close to the stage, you can hear the count in to Revelation (Mother Earth), the song and its companion Steal Away (The Night) are the perfect compliment to each other, Revelation is classical music fused with Metal, Steal Away is Rock and Roll fused with Metal, both perfection. The sound does move around a bit towards the end of Steal Away, I would assume the taper was keeping a close eye on his tape and getting ready for a flip. For me the highlight of this recording is Suicide Solution and hearing Randy’s glorious guitar playing. He keeps it simple during the band jam at first but after Ozzy introduces his solo spot he proceeds to play an insanely well crafted and spirited solo that is complete perfection. I found it very moving listening to his solo, his playing sounds so full of joy. His family was certainly on hand to see their son and brother play and he does them proud.
The crowd takes some coaching in the cheering department from Ozzy, he tells the guys to grab their balls and all you chicks grab whatever you want to grab! Classic Ozzy. The Sabbath material is always good, Children Of The Grave is the strongest, Randy plays a real unique solo, almost like the band was not totally in sync. Paranoid is the closer, at the end the crowd gives a huge ovation and some firecrackers erupt ending the recording.
The packaging you ask? Full color live shots of the classic Osbourne, Rhoads, Aldridge, Sarzo line up playing on a very small stage. Numbered sticker, mine is 015, pretty low as I usually get a number in the hundreds. The picture on the CD is of Randy doing a bit of tapping and looking very Eddie Van Halen-like. A nice intimate posed shot is on the interior track, Ozzy holding Randy’s head with his tongue out, there certainly was some love between them. Live Ozzy with Randy is pretty much always a must buy in my book, I am glad to see something released that has not been booted to death get some attention.
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