Speak Of The Devil: Ritz 1982 Complete (Zodiac 027)
The Ritz, New York City, NY. USA – Disc 1: September 26, 1982 / Disc 2: September 27, 1982
Disc 1 (63:51) Intro, Symptom Of The Universe, Snowblind, Black Sabbath, Fairies Wear Boots, War Pigs, The Wizard, N.I.B., Sweet Leaf, Never Say Die, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid
Disc 2 (67:31) Intro, Symptom Of The Universe, Snowblind, Black Sabbath, Fairies Wear Boots, War Pigs, The Wizard, N.I.B., Sweet Leaf, Never Say Die, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid
After guitar wunderkind Randy Rhoads was killed in a tragic plane crash in March 1982, the Ozzy band was in somewhat of a turmoil. They had guitar player Bernie Torme (who played in Ian Gillan’s solo band) who was doing a solid job but was just a fill in and the search was on to find a more permanent replacement. They eventually found Brad Gillis, whose band Ranger (soon to be re named Night Ranger) were in the process of working on what was to become their Dawn Patrol, released in November of the same year. The band would film a concert for use on MTV and was released on DVD last year titled Speak Of The Devil, the set list was all the Blizzard and Diary era material with three Black Sabbath songs that typically ended the set. What many did not know was the wheels were in motion for a live album that would allow Ozzy to fulfill his contract to Jet Records, the plan was to release a live record made up of entirely Black Sabbath songs. It is well documented that the original plan was for this to be recorded with Randy on guitar, something he was adamantly against but relented to doing with the agreement of taking time off touring to continue his studies of classical guitar. Brad Gillis provided Ozzy a stable guitarist and after a successful summer tour plans were made to record the live record at The Ritz in New York City over two nights in September 1982.
From accounts detailed in Rudy Sarzo’s Off The Rails book the venue was small and the band had just five days to hone the set, Ozzy did little rehearsing with the band and had to have a chair onstage with lyrics to the songs. The subsequent recordings where assembled as a double record entitled Speak Of The Devil in America and Talk Of The Devil in the UK, the record was an instant hit and would provide yet another shot to his old band Black Sabbath who were also in the midst of releasing their first official live album Live Evil. As a young Rock fan in the early 80’s I was a huge Ozzy fan and I am a self professed massive fan of this era of Ozzy’s solo career and have long wanted to hear these shows as they really happened, it was easy to tell there had been work done on Ozzy’s vocals but to what extent? Needless to say I was incredibly excited to see this title in the new releases, my dreams have been answered.
This new release from the folks at Zodiac features soundboard recordings from both nights at the Ritz, the sound is excellent and well balanced, we get the unedited versions of these gigs so there are plenty of colorful metaphors from Ozzy who, while being under rehearsed, puts in solid and sometimes ragged vocal performances. The crowd noise is mixed in at a lower level and the intimate atmosphere is well captured like on the original record, these shows need to be listened to at maximum volume to be fully enjoyed. The band is extremely tight as per Rudy Sarzo’s book were not going to have the ability to do many studio touch ups, that would be saved for Ozzy’s vocals as they were completely re recorded for the record. The band is extremely tight, the Rhythm section of Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge are phenomenal, speaking in an interview about the record Tommy states that he heard Iommi and Butler were not impressed with his takes on the songs but he stood by his performance. I must agree with Tommy, he really plays the hell out of the songs and the band interject new life into the old classics.
The majority of the Speak Of The Devil was recorded on the second night, Ozzy’s vocals for “Symptom Of The Universe” on the first night are really off key but he manages to get through it, on the second night he is abysmal and misses many of the lyrics. The majority of the set list is classic Sabbath and gives him little trouble, this song is a great opener but was a song that was hard for him to sing hence it was never really brought back by Sabbath on their reunion tours. “Snowblind” is a complete turn around and the Ozz Man turns in a nice vocal. All of the song introductions are featured here as well, in unedited form and Ozzy is really pushing the crowd, during “Black Sabbath” he screams several times “Lets have a Riot!” in attempts to make people go even wilder. I have always liked Brad Gillis’ rendition of the song, he plays it heavy and at a much faster tempo than the original, certainly breathed new life into much of this material. The end of “Black Sabbath” on the first night is plagued with a tape issue, sounds like it could have possible been chewed by a tape deck at some point, it also effects Ozzy’s banter but clears as they go into a spirited versions of “Fairies Wear Boots”, “NIB”, and “War Pigs” on both occasions, Ozzy has little trouble with the lyrics as they were all in Sabbath’s set list for years. During “War Pigs” from the first night Brad plays part of the riff with a kind of funky feel to it, in fact the versions of most of the songs are slightly different between the nights, there is the possibility that the tapes we are listening to were given to the band to help in rehearsals for the second night, to sort of tighten this up so to speak.
One of the revelations on the Speak record was the addition of a true deep track “The Wizard”. We finally get the full introduction and can finally hear what Ozzy was saying about the Fillmore and groupies. Rudy Sarzo says how impressed he was of Ozzy’s ability to play the harmonica, Brad Gillis really plays a superb version of the song, he smokes the solo in a laid back sort of way, a true highlight. Ozzy gives a nice intro for “Sweet Leaf” explaining the obvious, “Never Say Die” is an obvious strain on Ozzy’s voice as it cracks as he tries to sing in a higher register.
I did not detect a cut in the tape of either night after “Never Say Die” and must consider the fact that “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was either not played at these gigs or only done on the first night since there are more cuts in that recording, there is the possibility that it was performed either in a sound check or in the studio. It is certainly one of the songs that Ozzy would have trouble singing live. The drum intro for “Iron Man” is a little longer as Ozzy is demanding movement and tells them to get the cement moving, in fact there is a lot of stage banter for both evenings. “Iron Man” has some work done to it for final release as Brad flubs a guitar part with about a minute left before the “Children Of The Grave” transition. The first disc is cut immediately after “Paranoid” while the second has a bit more tape.
The packaging is great; the cover is similar to the Speak Of The Devil record except instead of the black background we get a brick wall, keeping with the live concert that Ozzy employed at the time. The front insert opens to reveal a shot of Ozzy and Ronnie (aka John Allen) and the rear insert has a picture framed round with a similar live shot that really ties in the whole package. Of course the live shot was not representative of how Ozzy looked, most fans knew that mid summer of 1982 Ozzy shaved his head and was sporting much shorter locks by this point. All in all a phenomenal release, one that is certainly at the top of my list of my favorite bootlegs of all time, so important was the original Speak Of The Devil. I rate this release as essential and a must have, superb release from Zodiac who continue to impress with their releases geared to the metal fan.
Great review. Max Norman said 3 tracks were soundcheck recordings, and the absence here of ‘SBS’ suggests it is one. Anyway, I’ll just c&p here my comments on the ‘News and New Releases’ page, to keep it all together: “Fellow Ozzy fans, do not hesitate getting your paws on Ozzy ‘Speak of the Devil – Ritz 1982 Complete’. Aside from the occasional tape-dropout, it is perfect. In the past I have been shouted down on many a forum, and found my Wikipedia scribblings amended, for saying that Ozzy re-recorded his vocals for the official album. They are double-tracked, after all. Here’s the proof of some studio ‘tidying’. It sounds like very little was done to the rest of the recording, most of which comes from the second night. Whatever, another fantastic offering from Zodiac. The other exciting thing is that these have surfaced after so many years – what else lies in the vaults?”
Thanks for your passionate and informative review Zodiac 027.