Lee Speaks About Music… #146

Solitude – Flávio Franco Araujo



Over here in the UK the South American country Brazil is perhaps more well noted for two things, football and music, and the country no doubt is not short on GREAT! talent when it comes to either of them. Internationally over the many years the country has produced one of the very best football teams ever and no country has won the World Cup more times than Brazil. I myself have very fond memories of the side they had when they won the World Cup for the third time in Mexico back in 1970 and even the GREAT! team they had that did not win it in 1982. That side was by far the GREATEST! football team I have ever seen still to this day. It had the style, flare and the skill that was equivalent to what the Harlem Globetrotters gave to Basketball.

Musically the country is perhaps noted for being the birth place of Samba music although Bossa nova is also a well-known style of Brazilian music which was a new trend that was popularized back in the 1950s and 1960s. The music of Brazil was formed mainly from the fusion of European and African elements and rhythmically I suppose there is some of the elements that came out of Africa that is associated with the percussion side of things. But also, Latin American rhythms were also widely used and fused with jazz we get what’s known as Latin jazz or even Afro-Brazilian jazz, which includes bossa nova and samba.

The country is well noted for its many talented musicians in all fields of music including classical, folk and many other genres besides, and today have become more universally accepted worldwide. I have to confess I myself do not know a great deal about the country’s music and its many talented musicians. But I have watched many music documentaries that have nothing but high praise for the musicians that have come out of Brazil and I know what skill it requires to make the music that I stumbled upon Soundcloud a good few year back when I landed on BongÔMusics.

BongÔMusics was set up by a very talented multi-instrumentalist and producer who is known as  Flávio Franco Araujo. Over the many years he has set up his own studio and produced many talented artists and helped them make many records. He is perhaps more known as a producer and BongÔMusics is the name of his studio and not the name of a band so to speak. But now finally after all these years he’s got to release a very fine album of piano solos entitled Solitude, which really shows this GREAT! man’s talent as a pianist, a composer and as a very skilful arranger. But before we go any further into his history let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Well as you can see the package is nothing to look at and that is just one of the many disadvantages a Digital Download will present to you in relation to a physical product that would also include things such as linear production notes and credits, along with lyrics and glossary photos and such. Though the Digital Download is perhaps more popular these days than any physical media format and quite often provides you with a cheaper alternative way of getting your hands on an album.

I have to confess that I myself am more of physical product guy and prefer something you can touch and hold in your hands in relation to the Digital Download. But I can also see the point of using this format especially for the lesser known artists who are not going to be selling their albums by the bucket load and will most likely end up with a load of CD’s cluttering up their basement or garage.

Let’s face it music is very hard to sell these days and the Digital Download is really the only way the artist can protect themselves from losing a pile of cash with the extra expense it costs to put your album out onto a physical format. So, for many lesser known artists this is really the best way you can go about getting your music out there.

Digital Download v Physical Format. The Way I See It…

Being more of a physical media guy my own personal view of how much a Digital Download should cost really boils down to all the things you are missing out on regarding the packaging and the extra content you get with a physical media product. I myself certainly do not believe any Digital Download should cost any more than £5. That is not to say that the music is not worth more than that and is really down to what more you get with the physical product.

For example, a Digital Download is a bit like buying a CD that comes with no packaging and all the other informative information about the product that comes with it. If you were to take a CD out of its jewel case and sell it on its own, the chances are that you would most likely get less than half of the price you paid for it with the packaging and the rest of the contents. The informative information that comes with any album is just as vital and important as the music itself to a collector like myself. It’s also one of the most useful things to have to write a detailed review about any album too.

Now I am not saying that all artists should charge no more than £5 for a Digital Download and at the end of the day it’s up to themselves what they think it’s worth. But it’s very rare I would pay more than £5 for such a thing and being more into the physical side of things is where I personally see more quality and value can be had for the buck. The Digital Download really should be much cheaper and should be sold as a cheaper alternative way of getting your hands on an album and not sold at the same price as a physical product which offers way more.

But you could also argue the point that because a lesser known artist is hardly likely to sell as many copies and hardly any at all in comparison to any mainstream artist. That you should pay more to give the artist support. But that does not reflect on the price point of the both formats in relation to what they are actually worth, and to charge the same price for a Digital Download as a CD will reflect that its price point is too high and overpriced.

The Artwork.

The artwork for the album cover was a photograph taken by Flavio himself and it was taken along with several other photos from where he lives. The photo he chose no doubt represents the albums title of Solitude very well I feel as you can see from the original photo below. He also edited the photo in Lightroom to give it that personal touch for the album cover and it also works very well I feel.


Flávio Franco Araujo In Brief History…

Flávio Franco Araújo was born in Guararapes, Brazil and currently lives in São Paulo. Although São Paulo is not the capital city of Brazil it is the most populated city and I guess in some ways it’s a bit like how the many musicians here in England would have moved to London to get noticed with there being something more going on. Whether the city of São Paulo works that way or even that was the reason for Flavio to move there I could not personally tell you. But it is a city that does tend to have a lot going on for it and even the 2014 World Cup was hosted in the city.

Flavio is a practically self-taught musician and composed his first song at the age of 13. His passion and his love of music I guess goes back to the quality music he would have heard in his parents’ house when growing up as a child and the music of Chopin, Lizst, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and great arrangers like Claus Orgeman and Quincy Jones would have influenced him in many ways. He was also passionate about cinematic music, especially from older films and they also provided an influence for him. He loves romanticism but he also liked to dare in other musical styles.

He plays various instruments, such as acoustic piano, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar and has learned all of them quite well, though I would say that it is his love of the piano and keyboards is where he excels the most and as a keyboardist and pianist, he has performed in jazz festivals such as Tatui with the group Amatuza and Paraty with the Rhandal de Oliveira’s quartet. He has also performed along with Ná Ozzetti, Raul de Souza, Sizão Machado, Duda Neves, Claudio Celso, Max Sallum, Adyel, Pete Wooley, among others.

Being also a producer the other instruments he plays no doubt come in handy and get utilised and sound quality and production is also another side of his passion in wanting to achieve the best there is out there by keeping up with the latest technology. It was back in 1993 that he founded and established the critically acclaimed studio, BongÔMusics, and focused on advertising campaigns and musical productions such as albums, soundtracks, post production, mixing and mastering. Flávio is currently working on children’s music projects, film soundtracks, publicity and his instrumental music albums. Throughout his career, Flávio has won several awards as a composer and producer at Brazilian popular music festivals and respected publicity celebrations.

The Album Solitude In Review…

The album Solitude by Flávio Franco Araujo was released on 7th February 2020. The album contains 8 instrumental piano pieces spread over and overall playing time of 46 minutes, 28 seconds. The 8 tracks on the album are all his own compositions and portray 8 moments of his life that were very important to him, most of which relate to his family and he also pays homage to his idol Bill Evans.

Solitude is very much Flávio’s debut album and is an album that contains 8 piano solos that he wrote over many years. He has spent perhaps more of his own time producing other people’s music and playing and arranging more widely known mainstream music than he has given to his own compositions. Time has no relevance regarding his own music and his philosophy is that he likes to wait for the right moment. For example, the albums self-titled track “Solitude” was written at a time or a moment where he revaluated everything and started to be a little more isolated.

He also told me that he was very connected to the universe at the time and most of his compositions are born that way. However, you look at his music you can see he is very proud and passionate about it. But the other thing that keeps him busy is live performance and he has performed with many GREAT! quality musicians besides doing live solo performances like the one we have here of him performing his own unique arrangement of the well-known Harold Arlen composition “Somewhere Over The Rainbow“.

This live performance comes from a free concert he gave at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in the United States on March 5th 2019. Flávio also performed some of his own material that is on the album at the same venue along with a few more covers. From this live performance you can quite easily see how passionate he is with his approach to the keys and there is certainly a degree of skill than has been put into the arrangement he gave to the piece to which gives it a lovely jazzy flavour.

A couple of years ago Flávio did mention to me that he planned to do some travelling and do some live performances to get his name out there a bit more. He also set up a series of live performances with other musicians to which he called Vinyl Review. Although this was pretty much set up at his own studio or at another location in his own country as you can see from the picture below.


The concerts they gave would also of been performed to friends who they had invited over. Vinyl Review was a really GREAT! series that I enjoyed a lot and they actually premiered and streamed live these performances at an exceedingly high quality, where both picture and sound quality were pristine. This is something that is very hard to achieve especially streaming it live over the internet. The quality was as pristine as blu ray too and it might be worth them putting them out on that format.

A lot of the concerts have now been edited down to single tracks to which Flávio has put on his own Youtube channel. But no doubt the musicians were class as you can see from this live performance of “Footprints” which he put out in January this year.

My guess is that Flávio chose the word “Vinyl” or “Vinil” in Portuguese (to which the Brazilian language is derived from and uses) for the series to represent the high quality. Although in reality I would say that the quality was much better than vinyl simply because vinyl does have its restrictions and is prone to surface noise. Though no doubt for many it is still regarded as one of the better media formats and is still widely associated and popular with many music collectors.

Quality has always played an importance to his and other people’s music and I guess when you are working with musicians of this calibre you want the best for them. The production side of music also plays a big factor and has a producer he is not short in this department either, and his production work and skills are of very high standards.


Like I mentioned earlier Flávio set up his own studio BongÔMusics back in 1993 and over the decades he has maintained and kept up with the latest technology so that he is able to achieve such high-quality standards. However, this year his studio has been stripped down and his own debut album Solitude might very well be the last thing to come out of BongÔMusics. But even though it only comes in the format of a digital download it has also been made available in a hi-res 96khz at some outlets.

Musicians & Credits…


All music composed, arranged and performed by Flávio Franco Araujo. Recorded at BongÔMusics studios Morumbi, São Paulo. Brazil. Recorded mixed and mastered by Flávio Franco Araujo. Album cover and design by Flávio Franco Araujo.


Flávio Franco Araujo: Piano.

The Album Tracks In Review…

Solitude is an album of instrumental solo piano pieces and you could say that it’s very much a family album in that the biggest majority of the pieces are dedicated to those in Flávio’s family, some of which were very much written to remind him of the wonderful times he had with some of those who are no longer here. There is no doubt that each piece will have a special place in his heart and you could also say that it’s also a personal album that has more of a personal meaning to him.

However, you look at any piano piece there is a certain feel of elegance, beauty and grace and the piano is an instrument that can capture many emotions and moods that can be quite captivating. I think there is a certain amount of pleasure one can get from playing any instrument and even I myself can get tremendous pleasure and joy playing the piano. Though I have to confess that I am far from an accomplished piano player or pianist like this guy is, but any instrument will give you a sense of reward and pleasure no matter what level you can play it at for that matter.

The very fact that I can play the piano to a certain degree does mean that I have a particular interest and love for the instrument. Though I have to confess that an album that consists of nothing but piano or even guitar solos is not the thing in general I would personally buy. I have done many moons ago in the past and they are the kind of albums that I would rarely get out and play these days. I like more elements of instrumentation thrown into the equation and prefer an album where only one or two solo pieces have been put onto the album.

So, without further ado lets now take a look at the albums individual tracks as I go through them one by one and see how the album all pans out and works.

Track 1. Sol Brilhante.

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The title translates in English to “Bright Sun” and Sol also happens to be the name of Flávio’s beautiful wife to which this opening piece on the album is dedicated too. You could say that the album gets off to a bright start with this opening piece too and it does sound bright and has an air of elegance and romance to the piece. It also dances itself along quite wonderfully as if it’s telling a story and use of 8va variants work well to lift the piece up and it also utilises some of the lower regions to provide a certain amount of weight to the piece.

Overall, “Sol Brilhante” is a really beautiful piece that has a certain amount of air, grace and elegance to it and contains a touch of darkness to give it a bit of shade with the added weight from the lower regions of the keyboard that comes into play around the 3 minute mark. It’s a piece that lends more from the classical side of things rather than jazz and the beauty it has is perhaps why he chose the piece for his wife. It’s a GREAT! start to the album in some ways it reminds me of some of pieces that Rick Wakeman wrote for his Country Airs album back in 1986 and I see this has one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 2. Solitude.
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The albums self-titled track is one of the three longer pieces on the album and is played at a more subtle slower pace and lends to the space with its movement to represent the emptiness and the loneliness that is associated with the word “Solitude”. It’s a piece he wrote in a moment where he started to revaluate everything and started to be a little more isolated. I guess there are many times when we want to be by ourselves at times and isolate ourselves and collect our thoughts. Although right now in the present situation with Coronavirus spreading rapidly around the world, having to isolate ourselves is perhaps not the same thing.

This is another fine piece that has more of a classical structure to it and has a certain feel of sadness and beauty and also has a sense of warmth about it. It fits the title like a glove and Flávio did feel he was connected with the universe when he wrote it. Even though that is not him in the picture I chose to use for this piece, I do also feel it fits the picture too and see it has him collecting his thoughts with the universe.

If anything, “Solitude” is a piece that very much has perhaps more of a chilliout mood to it and also a sense of purpose with its melody lines and the environmental recording of the rain and birds singing at the end works very effectively to round the piece off. It’s a very well-constructed piece of work and is played with precision and his fingers are quite magical with how he touches upon certain keys that add to the beauty of the piece. It’s very much a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 3. Flavia Jogando Bola.
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Jogando Bola translates to “Playing ball” and this is a very playful piece that has a feel and sense of joy about it all. The piece itself reflects back to Flávio looking back on his past to the times when his daughter Flavia was a couple of years old and playing ball. I guess we all have fond memories and moments we like to gaze back at every now and then and this really is a GORGEOUS! little piece that dances along joyfully and the keys really do express and capture the joyful moment in time he was looking back on.

Track 4. Miss You.

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Miss You” is the longest track on the album and was inspired by the film music that Flávio’s father loved so much. It’s a piece that very much has a feel of loneliness like the 2nd track on the album “Solitude” only there is a lot more movement to the piece and it touches on jazz and classical structures to make it what it is.

It’s quite a powerful dramatic and expressive piece that captures many moods along its path and builds itself around melodies that contrast between light and shade. I would also say that you would have to have quite some strength in your fingers to be able to play a piece like this over its 10 minute and 19 second journey and it’s another very well worked out piece and one that has some really GREAT! chord progression along its path.

Track 5. Bella.

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This is a piece that Flávio wrote in a way of a dedication and remembrance of his dog Bella after she sadly passed away. Once again, it’s a piece that is built around a classical music structure in that it is built around a theme and variations of the theme. It’s a very well-crafted composition that has a sense of purpose about it, it starts off slowly and even though the piece builds up a bit quicker with its pace it constrains itself and holds everything together really well.

It’s not really a playful piece like the 3rd track on the album he wrote about his daughter and its perhaps done more in a way to represent the pleasure that Bella brought to him and his family over the 90 odd dog years she lived. It’s a very emotive piece that captures sprinkles of joy and a touch of sadness with how it presents itself to you and is a wonderful little journey through the life of Bella who is pictured in the photo above. It’s another of my contenders for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 6. Beautiful Flowers.

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This piece was composed in honour of Flávio’s father Florentino and the “Flor” in the first segment of his name means flower in Portuguese hence the reason for the title he chose here. His father was a true master of the craft and very much his hero and this particular piece has been very well crafted in a way of a dedication to him and is the second longest track on the album weighing in at 8 minutes, 44 seconds.

There is quite a lot of beauty here which is to be expected in that it deeply shows his love for his father, and this is a piece that has eloquence, grace and even romance and is another very well constructed piece of work with how it all builds up to its heights and goes through motions and emotions that take in both happiness and sadness. It really is a masterclass piece of work and he has also backed it up slightly in parts with some warm strings which support the piano very well. This is another strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 7. Mother.

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The second piece that Flávio has dedicated to his mother is much shorter and once again this is a piece that has a sense of purpose about it and is more constrained like the 5th track on the album. This is perhaps done in way to represent how mothers have more of caring aspect about them in that they keep us safe from harm and are more protective or sometimes even overprotective by watching over us sort of thing. Well that is how it comes across and speaks to me, and it is perhaps more sombre and reflects darker shades, yet still manages to shine some light and is another wonderful worked out piece of work he has composed here.

Track 8. For Bill.

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The final piece on the album pays homage to one of Flávio’s idols namely the American jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans. To be honest I have never heard of him though jazz is perhaps not that popular in my own record collection although I do love certain aspects of it and am perhaps more into jazz fusion and the sort of thing that Flávio does with the other GREAT! musicians he plays with.

But I do have tremendous respect for some of the truly GREAT! jazz pianists and one that perhaps amazes me is Oscar Peterson. I also love boogie and ragtime music and have seen many old vintage clips of some those GREATS! from the past way before my time play them and enjoy a lot.

To be perfectly honest when listening to the album Solitude it does tend to lend more to the contemporary classical side of music than it does to jazz. But this is a piece that really displays some of the more technical aspects of playing jazz and it’s as if Flávio is playing a serenade to his idol Bill Evans and he certainly does justice to him too.

He also performed this live at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in Fayetteville Arkansas in the United States and done a GRAND! job of it as you can see in this video that he put out on his Youtube channel.

You can also find many more live performances on his Youtube channel including a straw of 3 of the other pieces from the album Solitude he also played live from the same venue. “For Bill” is a perfect way to put the album to bed and end off a very satisfactory body of work and a GREAT! album of fine piano pieces. It’s also my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!


To sum up the album Solitude by Flávio Franco Araujo. I would say that the biggest majority of music that was written for the album does have more of a contemporary classical feel and lends itself more to that style more so than the jazz side of things. But that is perhaps to be more expected given that the album does have more of a personal side to it and is very much a family album.

I suppose in a way of categorising it in the way of giving it a genre, it’s bit like the genre of New Age that was given to the Country Airs album that Rick Wakeman had done back in 1986 and it is quite similar to that type of album. But then again how exactly does New Age really categorise a particular style of music especially when they have ambient electronic music, acoustic and all sorts filed under the same name tag. Like the many genres that evolved over the years they do tend to be ridiculous.

You can see that Flávio has put a lot of thought into the placement of the tracks on the album and it does flow and work very well in the order that they have been placed. The other good thing the album has in its favour is its overall time slot, which at 46 minutes is a very comfortable listening time that flies by in no time at all making it much easier to give the album another spin afterwards.

Reviewing any instrumental album presents a difficult task especially for me to convey how each piece comes across individually. But as with any album I review I do listen to the album several times and each track intensely. Though I may not be the best when it comes to wording things, especially when it comes to describing piano pieces. Solitude is an album that also presented me with quite a challenge to pick my personal highlights from the album but they are as follows: “Sol Brilhante“. “Solitude“. “Bella“. “Beautiful Flowers” and “For Bill“.


To conclude my review of the album Solitude. I personally do not think that an album filled with piano pieces is going to appeal to the masses, and it will appeal to those who are more into the piano than myself. But that’s not to say you cannot get tremendous pleasure and joy out of listening to an album like this or deny the skill that went into making an album like this either.

I would even say that given the current circumstances we are in with the Coronavirus and how we are all revaluating our lives to fit and work around it. An album like this might be just the ticket and the thing you need right now to focus on other things and I certainly think it will make you appreciate some of the beauty there is in this world.

Every musician in the world comes with their own appraoch and personal touch to their own instrument and that is where the real value lies within an album like this. For example, being more into prog rock myself Rick Wakeman has always been my personal god of the keyboards. But when it comes to playing the piano, he is no Oscar Peterson or even Flávio Franco Araujo for that matter and I would hardly say that his album Country Airs was one of his better albums. I personally do not think it’s a bad album but in all honesty the album Solitude speaks to me a lot more than that album of his.

The album Solitude is an album I highly recommend and contains a very fine strong body of work and I personally could not fault a single track upon it and each piece is very well composed, played and arranged and the quality production speaks for itself. It’s an album that I feel has a lot more to offer than I thought, even if it is made up of solo piano pieces and is not the sort of thing, I would personally buy these days. It’s also an album that one can truly appreciate and there is no doubt that Flávio Franco Araujo is a very gifted talented musician.

You can listen to the album for free on places like Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music or alternatively you can purchase the digital download of album from Amazon and many other outlets for around £9.99. You can even purchase an hi-res version of the album from here: https://www.prostudiomasters.com/album/page/55320

A Moment To Revaluate Everything

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Sol Brilhante. 4:35.
02. Solitude. 7:24.
03. Flavia Jogando Bola. 4:06.
04. Miss You. 10:19.
05. Bella. 3:48.
06. Beautiful Flowers. 8:44.
07. Mother. 3:49.
08. For Bill. 3:43.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #145

Ordinary Man – Ozzy Osbourne



Well it’s been a good decade since Ozzy Osbourne released an album and three years since both, he and his former band Black Sabbath decided to call it a day and put an end to their career back in their own town of Birmingham England at the Genting Arena on the 4th February 2017.  Now he’s back with his 12th studio album and being that he is now an ageing 71-year-old rocker, this could very well be his final album. 

Given the condition of his health over the last year with having a bad fall whilst recovering from pneumonia and being diagnosed with a mild form of Parkinson’s disease, I guess we should be thankful that he was able to make another album. But then again, I am sure Osbourne has stated many times in the past that he’s extremely lucky to still be here given all the antics he has got up to in the past. But at the end of the day I guess he is still mortal and just like the new albums title suggests an ordinary man. 

Ozzy Osbourne has always been the crazy man of rock n’ roll but what makes things even more crazy is that despite him now being at the ripe old age of 71. Many will still go out and buy this new album of his including those still in their teens and not just the many who like myself who have followed him over all these years. 

I can remember going back to my youth and in my teens when I first heard artists like Frank Sinatra. For the life of me I could not imagine myself buying records by those particular artists who were perhaps more popular with my parents’ generation than my own. Back then I would have even considered them to be old bags making records and would have made fun about them with my mates. But of course, as you grow older you get wiser and get to have much more respect for those type of artists and the one thing Sinatra still had in his ripe old age was his voice and that is something Osbourne still has kept intact today. 

I guess you could even say that Ozzy is an extraordinary man and I’ve always found him to be quite a character and such a likeable and down to earth guy. He may not have the best voice in relation to many other rock singers. But for me personally when it comes to rock music and the music he made with both Black Sabbath and his own solo career, he and Alice Cooper are very much the only singers I have ever said that rule. Throughout his entire career there as only really been one album that never rocked my boat, but before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork. 

The Packaging & Artwork…


The Deluxe Edition CD comes in a 3-panel cardboard DigiSleeve to which the artists name, albums title and tracks have been etched or stencilled in silver leaf effect. Both the CD and Booklet slot into side pockets or slots on the right and left side on the inside of the DigiSleeve and the 14-page booklet contains all the linear notes and credits plus the lyrics. Overall, it’s been very well presented and for me personally it was worth paying the extra couple of pounds more for the deluxe edition. I do prefer both cardboard DigiSleeves and DigiPaks in relation to the standard plastic Jewel Case. 


The artworks design and layout were done by Jeff Schulz who is an Associate Design Director at Sony Music Entertainment and an acclaimed creative director with 25+ years of experience guiding the vision of top brands, artists, and properties. Over the past near enough three decades Schulz has designed many album covers for artists such as the likes of Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, Robert Cray, Bon Jovi, Patti Smith, Avril Lavigne, Whitney Houston and many others. Most of the album covers he has designed are worked around portraits and pictures of the artists themselves.  

The photography was done by Sam Taylor-Johnson and the back of the album cover photograph was taken by the albums producer Andrew Watt who is involved with a lot of things on the album. The bat illustration in the middle of the booklet was done by Jon Contino. Overall, the albums artwork looks pretty neat and cool and this is one bat that not even Ozzy will be biting the head off :)))))). 

Release Editions…

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The album was released in 7 formats counting the digital download leaving you the choice of 6 physical formats to choose from. Oddly enough the digital download is not the cheapest option and is priced up at £9.99 on Amazon UK. The cheapest of the 6 physical formats is the Cassette priced up at £8 and this format gives you the choice of 4 different cover art pictures to choose from on Ozzy’s website as seen below.

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It was also released with the choice of 2 CD editions and as you can see, I opted for Deluxe Edition which I pre-ordered from Amazon UK and got it for £11.98. You can also get it in a standard plastic Jewel Case which is a couple of quid cheaper for £9.99 on Amazon and they are one of the cheapest retailers to purchase the album from. The only difference between the standard and deluxe versions is the packaging and nothing more. 

For vinyl lovers you have the choice of 3 vinyl editions you can choose from and the standard Black vinyl version is priced at £20. The Picture Disc version retails for £25 and the Deluxe edition comes in a smoke Silver colour vinyl and is priced at £40. It’s also worth noting that on Ozzy’s website all vinyl albums have been pressed onto 140-gram vinyl and not 180 gram and I thought this might have been a typo error because most other outlets are advertising it as 180-gram vinyl. 

However, having stumbled across more recent reviews about the issues some people are having with the vinyl release, it does appear to be that the vinyl industry is cutting corners once again and giving you less quality at a premium price. This is one of the very things that got my goat up about vinyl years ago and why I finally gave up on it simply because the thinner they cut the vinyl the more static it attracted and it was also more prone to warp a lot easier too and generate more surface noise. 

This recent video I found on the YouTube talks about the problems of quality control that is still going on today regarding vinyl and Osbourne’s latest album Ordinary Man is at the centre of it with the vinyl release. 

In other recent news it appears that “Vinylgeddon” is upon us due to recent fire that has decimated Apollo Masters in Banning, California. The plant produced 75-percent of the world’s lacquers that is used to make the stampers to make new recordings of vinyl records, with Japan’s MDC providing the remainder. Although it’s not quite “Vinylgeddon” and many albums are pressed well in advance but it will no doubt slow things down eventually for a while and will take at least a couple of years to hopefully get everything back together if they can. 

This recent video I found on Youtube explains more about it and what it will mean for the future of vinyl. Although a lot of it is only speculation and only time will tell just how much of an effect it will have on the vinyl industry.

The Album In Review…

Ordinary Man by Ozzy Osbourne was released on the 21st February 2020. The album comes with 11 tracks and has a total playing time of 49 minutes, 21 seconds which is a very comfortable time slot though not so comfortable to fit on a vinyl album. Which is why these days a single album like this now comes on 2 LP’s instead of one to cater for vinyl restrictions although I am pretty sure the album was put onto a single LP. I think it’s good they are now catering for quality but no doubt it does also bump the price of the album up for vinyl lovers doing it like this.

It was after finishing the farewell tour with Black Sabbath back in 2017 that Osbourne kept working on new material though various health issues got in the way and he was even forced ho to cancel his “No More Tours II” tour that was scheduled to kick off in February 2018. The tour was cancelled again in 2019 and was due to start in North America in May this year but once again had been cancelled and rescheduled to start in the United Kingdom in October 2020.

In September 2019, he was featured alongside American rapper Travis Scott on American rapper Post Malone’sTake What You Want“, from Malone’s third studio album Hollywood’s Bleeding, which went on to become Osbourne’s first Billboard Hot 100 top 10 in over 30 years and is also included on this album. In November last year Osbourne announced that he had been working with the Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith on new material for a new album and since then we have seen 4 single releases between November – February surface prior to the albums release.

Most of the album was recorded at various studios a couple of which namely Electric Feel and Gold Tooth Music studios in the States are most likely home studios, but some of the tracks were also recorded at Abbey Road and Sarm studios in London, England. Sarm Studios were established by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, and it was originally known as Basing Street Studios. It has also been known in the past as Island Studios and SARM is an acronym of Sound and Recording Mobiles.

The studio is situated in Notting Hill in London and was built inside a former church that had been de-consecrated. The old church began its life as a studio back in 1969 though has a record producer Chris Blackwell’s career goes back much further and in 1964, he produced a cover version of Barbie Gaye’s 1956 song “My Boy Lollipop” which became Millie’s breakthrough blockbuster hit in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 2.

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Basing Street Studios.

In the 70’s Blackwell got to produce quite a few ground breaking albums including Led Zeppelin’s Volume IV and Jethro Tull’s Aqualung along with many other artists such as Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, Steve Winwood, Free, Bad Company, Robert Palmer, Jimmy Cliff, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, King Crimson, John Martyn, Mott the Hoople, Quintessence, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Sparks, Cat Stevens, Spooky Tooth, Traffic and many more. The studios were also used by notable non-Island Records acts, such as Madonna, The Clash, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, The Eagles, Dire Straits, East 17, Boyzone, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Rihanna, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, Yes and so on.

The studio changed its name to Sarm West and in the mid 1970s, Sarm was the first 24-track recording studio in England and later became the first with 48-track facilities. In 1982 the producer Trevor Horn of Buggles brought the studios and the Band Aid smash hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was recorded in Studio 1 at Sarm West in 1984. In May 2011, two new studios and music business offices were added. The redesign also included living accommodation, to facilitate a return to the studios’ 1970s policy of long-term bookings. The studios are currently owned by SPZ Group, which is a holding company belonging to Trevor Horn and his late wife Jill Sinclair. The Sarm Studios complex also houses the offices of the SPZ-owned record labels ZTT Records and Stiff Records, and publishing companies Perfect Songs and Unforgettable Songs.

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Sarm studios.

Ozzy’s new album Ordinary Man was produced by the guitarist Andrew Watt who is also known for working with rapper Post Malone, both producing his songs and playing with him as a guitarist. He’s also collaborated with many more popular artists such as Justin Bieber to name one of them, and to be perfectly honest you would hardly think he was the right candidate to work on album for the prince of darkness. To be perfectly honest I have never heard of him or Post Malone for that matter and the likes of Justin Bieber is hardly going to raise my eyebrows and I would most likely PUKE! at the thought of him and Malone :))))). 

Though through my research I did get to discover that Watt got together with both Glen Hughes and Jason Bonham back in 2013 to form a hard rock supergroup who went by the name of California Breed and they made a one-off album together. So, he may very well have the credentials that are required though I was quite surprised not to see Zakk Wylde on the new album though these days when I look on Youtube there are literally thousands upon thousands of unknown guitarists who are quite capable of doing the job. Guitarists are very much ten a penny these days and not like they was many moons ago. 

Besides Andrew WattDuff McKagan, and Chad Smith who are the main musicians on the album it also features the ex Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash on a couple of tracks and Elton John also contributes piano and vocals to a track. It also features a few more musicians besides so let’s now take a look at the albums credits. 

Musicians & Credits…


Executive Producer Andrew Watt. Recorded at various studios in the USA and United Kingdom. Recording Engineers Andrew Dudman, Dominik Gryzbon, Paul Lamalfa and Matt Still. Assistant Engineers Matt Jones and George Oulton. Mixed by Manny Marroquin and Alan Moulder. Mixing Assistants Caesar Edmunds, Scott Desmarais, Robin Florent, Chris Galland, Tom Herbert and Jeremie Inhaber. Mastering by Mike Bozzi and Dave Kutch assisted by Kevin Peterson.

All compositions written by Osbourne, Smith, McKagan, Tamposi, Watt (except Tracks 1 & 7 by Osbourne, Smith, McKagan, Watt. Track 4 by Osbourne, John, McKagan, Walsh, Watt. Track10 by Osbourne, Post, Smith, Watt and track 11 by Osbourne, Post, Webster, Walsh, Watt. Art Direction & design by Jeff Schulz. Photography by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Back Cover Photo by Andrew Watt. Illustrations by Jon Contino.


Ozzy Osbourne: Vocals – Harmonica (Track 6).
Andrew Watt: Guitar – Keyboards (Tracks 2, 4-10) – Piano (Track 4) – Bass (Track 7) – Backing Vocals – Programming & Arrangements.
Duff McKagan: Bass (Tracks 1-6, 8-10).
Chad Smith: Drums (Tracks 1-10).

Additional Musicians.

Slash: Guitar (Tracks 1 & 4).
Elton John: Co-Lead Vocals & Piano (Track 4).
Tom Morello: Guitar (Tracks 8 & 10).
Post Malone: Co-Lead Vocals (Tracks 10 & 11).
Caesar Edmunds: Synth Bass (Tracks 2, 3, 6, 9, 10) – Synth Programming (Track 1).
Charlie Puth: Keyboards (Track 1).
Travis Scott: Vocals (Track 11).

Backing Vocalists: Ali Tamposi. Kelly Osbourne. Holly Laessig. Jess Wolfe. John Bowen. Christopher Hann. Gareth Treseder.

The Album Tracks In Review…

There was certainly no expense spared that went into the making of Osbourne’s 12th studio album Ordinary Man and there are way too many people involved in the making of this album for me to list them all in the credits. I would even think that if this album was to hit Number 1 in many countries I doubt if he would even get his money back and this must be the most expensive album he’s ever made.

This is an album that uses many modern techniques that’s found in the biggest majority of today’s pop music and also involves many artists who are not fussy about using programming and loops. I very much doubt that Osbourne has ever made an album like this before and this was all new to him including many of the people he had worked with on the album. But it also includes many musicians and he even paid Andrew Watt to fly over to Abby Road Studios in London, England to get an orchestra put on some of the tracks, and had him fly over to Atlanta to get Elton John on one of the tracks.

I have to confess that when I look back at all the GREAT! musicians Ozzy has worked with and had in the past on his previous albums from his solo career. I was not expecting a great deal looking at the backbone of the main musicians who are featured on this album. I would even say that with Osbourne being 71 and not in the best of shape after his last accident in the many interviews I have seen of him. That he was not in any fit shape to make an album. So, let’s now take a look and see how it came out.

Track 1. Straight To Hell.

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Straight off the BAT! excuse the pun :))))) the album gets off to a flying start and this opening track sees Ozzy flying high again and the opening words “alright now” takes me even further back to that sweet leaf of his and just like both of those songs the lyrical content pertains to the harm that drugs can do to you and this is an anti-drug song like the many he has had done in the past, and just like the many it’s one HELL! of a song too.

There is no doubt that even Osbourne himself must of been well chuffed with how the song came out that he could not wait to get it out there, and an official video was made for the song and released last year on the 22nd November. The video perhaps describes hell as being more of a riot and Ozzy is perhaps portrayed has the instigator of it all in the way it’s been put across but it’s very well made and he looks GREAT! in it.

Straight To Hell” is one of the more rawer edged songs on the album that is perhaps a bit more minimalistic regarding what’s been put into it to make it ROCK! particularly in the music department but it has all the right elements for it to work so well. It features Slash on lead guitar and the solo is very well executed. Ozzy’s voice stands out as well as ever and the other singers backing him up have been mixed in extremely well and this has to be a contender for one of the albums best powerful songs.

Track 2. All My Life.

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I like how the lyrics have been put into context in this song and the lyrics are perhaps a bit more personal in that they relate to Ozzy’s past and even the present with how he’s still here and doing what he does the best. It’s not quite the end for him yet and he’s fighting to live on for eternity. Musically the song is low key and has more of a down tempo about it that effectively works very well to bring the album down a notch. Andrew Watt‘s guitar solo slots in very well and Osbourne’s voice is the only voice here and this a good example to show just how well he still has his voice and it’s a really GREAT! song.

Track 3. Goodbye.

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There is quite a Black Sabbath feel to this next song and the thumping of the bass drum on the intro puts me in mind of “Iron Man” then it changes into something more along the lines of The Police and their hit song “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” in particular with the structure of the verses and I could almost sing some of the words from that song to the melody here and it’s like it’s been fused with “Electric Funeral“. Even the transitional change we get in the song is very much along the lines of Sabbath and you can see that the musicians had listened extensively to Osbourne’s entire career to make the new material work so well for him. 

Once again, the lyrics are well written and put into context and you do get the impression that this album is meant to be his final album and its almost as if he’s writing his last will and testament to us all. There is nothing overcooked on these opening tracks and if there is any modern technology used you certainly cannot hear it and that is another excellent song that has all the right raw power to drive it along and another fine example how Osbourne’s voice has not changed a bit. 

Track 4. Ordinary Man.

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This song has quite a BEATLE-ESC! feel about it and it features Elton John on piano and he also gets to sing the second verse of the song. It also features Slash on the lead solo. Besides having such a GREAT! voice for rock music Ozzy has always had the characteristics in his voice to sing ballads exceptionally well and that even goes back to the 70’s when he was with Black Sabbath and “Changes” from their 4th album Volume 4 is a fine example and testament to that. Back in 2001 when I first heard “Dreamer” that song alone enticed me to buy the album Down To Earth immediately and I have yet to find an album from his solo career that has ever let me down.

Once again, the lyrics are excellent and they pertain to him wanting to be remembered after he’s gone and no doubt he will be, simply because he’s already made history as far as I am concerned.  I can see why Osbourne wanted an orchestra on this song and why he sent Watt to Abbey Road because he has always been a fan of The Beatles. “Ordinary Man” is my personal favourite track on the album and it merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

The official video was only released today and just in time for me to add it in for my review. I personally do not think it’s as good as the other two official videos that were made and it’s a reflection of Ozzy looking back on his past in a sad way.

Track 5. Under The Graveyard.

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Yet another really GREAT! track and I would say that the album was worth it’s price point at this stage and were not even half way through it. This was another of the early single releases that was put out last November. The song is a look back on Osbourne’s life around the time he was sacked from Black Sabbath with his battles with drug and alcohol addiction and how his wife got him back on his feet again.

No expense has been spared on the official video that was made to promote the release either, and I have to say how they found the right actors to play the part of Ozzy and his wife Sharon does look very much like how they were back in early 80’s. “Under The Graveyard” is my second favourite track on the album and is a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! I would even say that this may very well be a firm favourite with most of his fans.

Track 6. Eat Me.

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Ozzy gives you something you can get your teeth into like the title suggests and the lyrical content is on the black comedy side of things. The intro on the harmonica and the opening power chords from the guitars do have a Black Sabbath feel about them and hearing Osbourne on the old “Gob Iron” does cast my mind back to “The Wizard” from the bands self-titled debut album even if the melody line he’s playing sounds something more along the lines of a freight train rather than the haunting melody and sound he had on that old classic.

But that’s not the only thing in this song that takes me back to Sabbath’s debut album and around the 2:13 mark you will also hear they have nicked the vocal melody line from N.I.B. to which is played on the guitars. Though all these things are only little snippets to reflect back on the past and the song has much more to it and I would even say there is a touch of Alice Cooper thrown in along the way too. If anything, “Eat Me” is another very TASTY! album track and is yet another of the albums highlights and it contains some great bass work from Duff McKagan and Andrew Watt’s guitar solo adds very well to it all as well.

Track 7. Today is the End.

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The songs title is something more along the lines of what you might find for a movie and this song would even work well for a movie too. Most of the songs along the album pertain to Osbourne’s personal life and death as if it were the end for him. Although the lyrical content to this song is quite different, and if you dug deeper into them, they could be pertaining more towards some of the tragic events that have taken place in the world such a school shootings for example. Though I am sure there are many other things people will intemperate them too as well.

Overall, “Today is the End” is another GREAT! album track the lyrical content is a bit on the repetitive side but Ozzy’s expressive voice fits in it like a glove and it contains a really GREAT! guitar solo.

Track 8. Scary Little Green Men.

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Well no doubt the subject matter behind this song is entirely different and here we are touching on those scary little green bug-eyed monsters from another planet. The question really is is there anyone out there? It’s the first of two tracks that features Tom Morello on guitar (another unknown guitarist to myself) but I have vaguely heard of the band he is associated with Rage Against the Machine. He has also been involved in a few other bands and played with the likes of Bruce Springsteen in the past too.

Though I have to confess that for my own personal taste in music the Springsteen’s and Dylan’s of this world I have only ever seen as GREAT! songwriters and not performers, and I very much prefer their songs covered by other artists who I think done a damn site better with them. But we all have different tastes for sure. I am not sure who is doing the silly voice in this song but it sounds like the actor and musician Jack Black. I like how the song can simmer down and build up some adrenalin with how it flows along and this is another GREAT! song on the album.

Track 9. Holy For Tonight.

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This is yet another song that’s lyrical content pertains to how it’s coming to the end of Osbourne’s life and how he’s running out of time. In many ways this would have been the perfect song to end off the album and it’s the second of the truly GREAT! BALLAD-ESC! tracks on the album. Like I mentioned earlier with “Ordinary ManOsbourne’s voice works in a very powerful way when it comes to toning things down more and he can deliver songs like this with ease. This is another of the songs that contains an orchestra recorded at Abbey Road and another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! 

Track 10. It’s a Raid.

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This next song features the Rapper Post Malone and although he’s actually singing rather than Rapping and to be honest his singing voice is fine and he does a good duet here with Osbourne on the song. The song itself does contain elicit lyrics to which Osbourne is certainly no stranger to himself however, the elicit lyrics in this song are more along the typical lines that is associated with most Rap artists and well over the top as ever. The song was released as a single on the day before the release of the album.

Overall, “It’s a Raid” is not a bad song but perhaps not up with there the rest of the tracks on the album and for me personally I would associate it more of a bonus track more than anything else. It also features Tom Morello on guitar and the guitar on this track has been distorted to death to which I personally feel sounds really cheap and nasty and it does nothing for me I am afraid.

Track 11. Take What You Want.

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The final track on the album is a bonus track and features Post Malone and Travis Scott on vocals and they’re vocal parts feature more on the song than Osbourne’s. To be honest I like how the song opens up with the melody line on the guitar and Osbourne’s voice on the opening verse sounds GREAT! and you get the instant feeling that this is gonna be a good song to end off the album. Then the song changes drastically into a modern pop song with stupid effects applied to Malone and Scott’s vocals and it just ruined everything about it all for myself. The only other good thing in it is the guitar solo but overall, this is a track I could do without and it does not speak to me personally.


To sum up Ozzy Osbourne’s latest album Ordinary Man. I would say for those who have been waiting a decade to see a new album finally materialise it certainly does not disappoint and no doubt this is an album that has put Ozzy back in the limelight and an album I would personally consider a must for his fans and all those who are into really great rock music. The material that was written for the album is very strong both musically and lyrically and the only thing for me personally that really stops this album from being completely solid is the final couple of tracks on the album. 

The album has been very well produced and no doubt Andrew Watt has done an excellent job and had the right vision to pull it all off and make it work and suit Ozzy down to a tee. The album does not contain any of the more familiar musicians who have worked with Osbourne in the past, and although I myself would have preferred to see some of them here I do not think they are really missed at all when listening to the album. 

My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Straight To Hell“. “Ordinary Man“. “Under The Graveyard“. “Eat Me” and “ Holy For Tonight“. Though the first 9 tracks on the album are all equally as good and I could easily say they are the highlights of the album and the life and soul of the album. If it was not for the last couple of tracks this album would score 10 out of 10 with ease and be up there with his very best albums without a doubt. 


Ordinary Man by Ozzy Osbourne is an album that purely ROCKS! and is a most welcoming return from the prince of darkness. It’s a very exciting album and one of the best rock albums I have heard in sometime. Ozzy comes from an era and decade that invented pure heavy rock music and when it comes to music that purely rocks in a heavy way there were only really 3 bands that stuck out above the rest and they were Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and it was around the same time back in 1969/70 that all 3 of these bands churned out their finest rock albums ever. 

I would even say that Black Sabbath were the most consistent band out of those 3 when it comes down to churning out solid albums and the only album they ever made that never spoke to me was the final album Osbourne done with them back in that decade which was Never Say Die. The albums self-titled track was GREAT! but the rest of the album SUCKED! :)))))). Personally, I do not think Ozzy ever made an album in his entire solo career that sucked at all and they all can rock in a good way just like this album does. If this is to be Osbourne’s final album, he has certainly done justice for his fans and gone out on a high. 

Yes, I’ve Been A Bad Guy, Been Higher Than The Blue Sky…

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Straight To Hell. 3:45.
02. All My Life. 4:18.
03. Goodbye. 5:34.
04. Ordinary Man. 5:01.
05. Under The Graveyard. 4:57.
06. Eat Me. 4:19.
07. Today is the End. 4:06.
08. Scary Little Green Men. 4:20.
09. Holy For Tonight. 4:52.
10. It’s A Raid. 4:20.
11. Take What You Want. 3:49.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.