Ozzy Osbourne – The Ozzman Osaka 1998 (Zodiac 221)

The Ozzman Osaka 1998 (Zodiac 221)

Koseinenkin Kaiken, Osaka, Japan – February 28, 1998

Disc 1 (52:08) Carl Orff “Carmina Burana”, Bark At The Moon, Desire, Flying High Again, I Just Want You, I Don’t Want To Change The World, War Pigs, No More Tears, Goodbye To Romance, Suicide Solution

Disc 2 (33:08) Mr. Crowley, Road To Nowhere, Crazy Train, Paranoid, Mama I’m Coming Home, I Don’t Know

I picked up a few Ozzy titles recently I did not initially buy, this title was released back in 2016 by the Zodiac label and features Ozzy during a short 6 date Japanese tour in February 1998. Much of Osbourne’s tour dates during 1998 were as part of his single day music festival, Ozzfest. For those who remembered these yearly touring packages, the bill would features a who’s who of Metal bands dispersed over two stages with Ozzy headlining the event. It’s interesting to see this group of dates in Japan which were preceded by a short tour of Australia, Ozzy’s band for this tour would feature Zakk Wylde on guitar, Mike Inez on bass, Randy Castillo on drums (RIP), and John Sinclair on keyboards. The late 90’s would see a steady rotating group of musicians making up Ozzy’s band, the group featured here is certainly the best of the best.

Ozzy played two nights in Osaka, the recording featured here is the first night. The sound is an excellent audience source, perfectly balanced with all instruments and vocals being clear in the mix. There is nothing here to detract from one’s listening experience, it is superb and deserves to be played at loud volumes. It had been three years since Osbourne’s last studio album, Ozzmosis, had been released. Ozzy did have a new greatest hits package released in late 1997 called The Ozzman Cometh which provides inspiration for the title of this new release as well as the packaging of this title as well. Ozzy was also prepping for the massive Black Sabbath reunion tour which began during the 1997 Ozzfest dates and would continue for the next few years. A greatest hits package allows for a diverse setlist made up of songs from his entire solo career except The Ultimate Sin, plus a couple of Sabbath classics for good measure.

Like most Ozzy concerts, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is the intro music and the recording begins with the song just beginning, the audience cheer as the musicians take the stage and rip into Bark At The Moon. I’ve always liked Zakk’s interpretations of both the Randy and Jake material, he doesn’t stray much from the riffs and solos but does interject his own style into them, he is in full finger dexterity for the riff centric Bark At The Moon. Desire from No More Tears follows, this is a great tune off a monster album, Ozzy in great voice for this show so there’s lots of shouts of “C’mon” as the master of ceremonies works the audience. The band pretty much is the band on the Tears record save bassist Mike Inez who was certainly around for the recording. Flying High features a drum beat intro and lots of Zakk’s trademark pinch harmonics. A highlight of this recording is the main song from Ozzmosis, I Just Want You is strong live although Ozzy’s vocals suffer from the pace of the song sounding a bit flat. He works the crowd during the instrumental passages to perfection.

Zakk takes a quick solo to start I Don’t Want To Change The World, the song is really good live, guessing John Sinclair is helping with the chorus that gives it a nice full rocking sound. War Pigs had been in and out of the set since Zakk arrived in 1988, always great to hear this song live, this band gives the song more groove than Black Sabbath which modernizes the classic in the best way. Randy Castillo is a monster on this song, adding a lot of cool fills yet keeps it close to the Bill Ward feel, guy was a monster drummer. Ozzy makes full use of the bass and drum intro for No More Tears to engage the audience with chants, the master showman giving the full Ozzy experience. Goodbye To Romance is sandwiched between two classics, the band play a sweet and simple version of the song…an ode to simpler times.

Ozzy introduces the band prior to Suicide Solution, the song is a vehicle for a traditional band jam during which Zakk takes over and just goes off, ripping a high speed solo that is killer. The band jam is the one that dates back to Randy’s time in the band. Mr. Crowley follows, back to back Blizzard Of Ozz classics, Sinclair’s intro leaves a lot to be desired. Zakk pays total homage to Randy for the solo, he pretty much sticks note to note to Randy’s original, no need to mess with perfection. Great version of Road To Nowhere follows, a great standard no frills rendition. Crazy Train is deep in the set, great uptempo party version of the song, Paranoid follows hot on its heels and ends the main set in brilliant fashion. The recording has all the audience cheer before the band return with Mama I’m Coming Home. I Don’t Know is a curious but very effective song to close this concert, the audience give their all as they shout “I Don’t Know” getting it all out.

The packaging is great, full color inserts with pictures of Ozzy and Zakk. The cross from the official Ozzman Cometh set is used on the cover and the CD’s, the title of this set ties it all together. The fans who bought this title when it was released already know, this is an excellent title and for Ozzy, Sabbath, Metal fans, worth seeking out.  

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