South Fallsburg 1981 (Zodiac 363)
Music Mountain, South Fallsburg, NY, USA – August 8, 1981
(65:12) 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
Back in 2014 Zodiac released Music Mountain 1981 (Zodiac 083) featuring a very good audience recording of Ozzy Osbourne playing the Music Mountain, a small amphitheater in South Fallsburg, NY, nestled in the Catskill Mountains. The venue was only open for two years, 1981-1982 and with Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, and The Jerry Garcia Band having all played there. By all accounts it was out in the middle of nowhere, photos of the site shows it is surrounded by Forrest and had a small pond nearby. Ozzy was on a bill that featured an up and coming, very young Def Leppard, a recording of their set does circulate. Zodiac 083 featured an incomplete recording, missing most of Children Of The Grave and Paranoid, there was an alternate recording recorded by luvsufo featuring a near complete recording of the concert save for a small cut during the drum solo due to a tape flip. This new title from Zodiac features this recording, certainly taken from a torrent posted on Christmas Day 2019 by KRW-CO. The recording is slightly more distant than the one used on Zodiac 083, yet is more consistent, very clear and detailed with a small amount of distortion present and has much better upper frequencies. Like the other recording, it captures the atmosphere of the concert well and if anything, has less audience noise directly near the taper. The small cut in the drum solo has been filled with the Zodiac 083 source, so we finally have the complete concert in very nice quality.
The bulk of this review is taken from the original from 2014, I’ve added a few things to it. In doing research (thanks Google Chrome), I came across a remembrance of the concert and if you search Music Mountain there is a two minute youtube video showing the venue circa 2015:
“I remember seeing Ozzy Osbourne (with Randy Rhoads) there on Aug 8, 1981. Def Leppard was the opening act supporting their High and Dry album. I was looking at area designated for “Avon Lodge” and it…sorta resembles the area I remember. I do remember being on a hillside with the stage at the base of the hill with a small pond in front of the stage – sort of offset to the right. There was a house directly ( almost attached to the stage ) – to the left. The parking lot was to the right of the stage after walking for a bit. Looks like there is a small development there now. I do not, however, remember having to cross a creek to get to the parking lot or there being the neversink river beyond the stage. The current image shows no bridge crossing the creek anyway, so no idea how we would have gotten to the parking lot that I remember. That was the summer between Jr. High School and Sr. High School, so it’s definitely a challenge to recall.I still have the Ozzy concert jersey though! It’s different than most jerseys as it was a two tone blue and white jersey with short white sleeves with Adidas type stripes on them.Good times. It’s a shame that the place looks so run down now.”
The recording begins with the Carmina intro and the band tearing into I Don’t Know, Randy’s work is on perfect display, he switches from rhythm to lead and back alternating effects with precision, just incredible player and comes through powerfully in the mix. Rudy’s bass is nice and clear, forget the tongue antics and bass slapping, he is a great bassist in his own right. The audience has no problem going crazy for Crazy Train and clap a bit and holler at times, it all lends to the ambiance as the fans were there for a good time. Randy’s playing is superlative, he is adding a lot of little fills and nuances and holy shot Tommy Aldridge is drumming his fool head off. The audience gets their first inkling of Believer, the intro sounds eerie and seems to rise from the depths to great effect. The song itself is super heavy with Lindsey Bridgewater’s keyboards coming through as he adds these notes at just the right time.
Ozzy compliments the audience, another thing that makes these early live recordings so great is he does not quite have all his Ozzyisms yet and a lot less swearing. A wonderful Mr. Crowley is next, although it does get a lot of airplay it is one song you can never tire of, Randy’s solos are simply stunning and some of the best he would ever do. The second solo finds Bridgewater trying to harmonize with him, needless to say he is left in the dust. The beginning of Flying High Again sounds like Randy was having a bit of equipment problems, it is soon rectified as they go into the “Mamas gonna worry” part and Randy makes up for it with a perfect rendition of his classic solo. A beautiful version of the hauntingly Gothic Revelation (Mother Earth) follows, the crowd is quiet and respectful until Rhoads breaks into the heavy part then they go crazy and this energy will carry over into a rollicking version of Steal Away. The song also features a manic drum solo by Tommy, the audience is into it, a lot of whoo’s can be heard throughout, the tape patch at 2:47 to 3:00 is seamless and only noticeable due to difference in sound quality, the audience is crazy for Tommy in both recordings.
“A number now featuring Randy Rhoads our guitar player ” is Ozzy’s intro to Suicide Solution, the song would be a vehicle for Randy’s solo spot throughout his all too brief career with Ozzy and live versions of the song are highlights of the recordings. Ozzy makes a “You gotta” flub coming in too late that made me smile, but it’s Rhoads’ playing that has me hooked, again he adds small fills in places, his versatility is unmatched. His solo spot is two and a half minutes of joy that features a bit of homage to his Quiet Riot days, it must have been mind blowing to witness this live. “We’re gonna finish up with some Black Sabbath numbers” pushes the audience over the edge, they let the band know it as Ozzy does the audience participation for the Iron Man count in. Iron Man sounds strong and powerful and as the transition into Children Of The Grave begins you can tell the band is going for blood, Randy gives the iconic Children Of The Grave his own twist and simply levels the place with his solo, simply incredible in its aggressiveness, the song ends, Ozz says good night and chants of “Ozzy…Ozzy…Ozzy” begin immediately. The band waste little time returning to the stage and play the final encore, the Sabbath chestnut Paranoid, again the Blizzard Of Ozz breathes new life into the 70’s warhorse, Randy is feeling it and again plays an incredible solo that needs to be heard. So much energy and excitement in a short 65 minutes, I could only imagine what it was like.
The packaging is typical for Zodiac, inserts with both posed and live shots of the band, Blizzard Of Ozz Mark II I guess you could say. The extras are here, picture CDs and a numbered sticker (mine is 046), a much nicer looking package. Well there you have it, the complete Music Mountain concert in very good quality complete form, I would not choose one recording over the other, the previous title found on Zodiac 083 is a better recording, fuller sound less distortion, this one is complete with better overall balance. For me, this is prime Randy era Ozzy, no need to choose, I want them both.