Lee Speaks About Music…#218

Patient Number 9 – Ozzy Osbourne

Introduction…

Well, it was only a couple of years ago that Ozzy Osbourne made quite a stir with the release of his 12th studio album Ordinary Man which was his first studio album release in a decade. Given his age and in particular his health condition I personally thought that it might just be his last studio album. However, it appears that the prince of darkness is not ready to bow out on us just yet and he’s back with yet another studio album and one that is just as promising. Even at the age of 73, Ozzy can still deliver the goods and sounds as well as he did back in his heyday in some respects.

To be honest the same could be said for Alice Cooper who is a year older and although both singers were never in the same league as Robert Plant and Ian Gillan when it comes to the greatest voices of rock music, both Ozzy and Alice have come out of the ageing process with their voices unscathed and still intact in their ripe old age which is more than I could ever say about the other two whose voices have dropped a few notes over the years. The ageing process affects the biggest majority of singers over the years and there are not many singers who can still sound like they did back in their heyday especially as well as these two.

Although both Plant and Gillan can still very much perform today like Elton John, they have had to adapt their voices by transposing the music to be able to carry on as well as they do. Though none of them could sing their older songs and make them sound as well as they were in their heyday so to speak. However, they are still worth seeing which is more than I could say for Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull who perhaps should have given up years ago.

Ozzy Osbourne’s latest album Patient Number 9 comes across as even more powerful and is steered once again by his collaboration with the young producer Andrew Watt. His work with Ozzy more or less continues from where they left off with the previous album and much of the same crew is still very much on board. Although they also threw in a couple of legendary guitarists and two guitarists from Ozzy’s longtime career into the melting pot and there can be no doubt this album certainly delivers the goods.

Packaging & Artwork…

The disc comes in a plastic jewel case and the fact that it does is a bit disappointing especially as his last release came in a 3-panel cardboard Digisleeve (Digifile). There is however another alternative Limited Edition package that the CD was also released in which I will go into more detail about in the Release Edition section of my review. It was however good to see that the jewel case came with only two placeholders to hold the booklet instead of three which can make it a nightmare to retrieve the booklet.

Speaking of the booklet this one comes with 16-pages and although there is no formative content it does come with the lyrics and the usual production liner notes. I managed to pick up my copy for £9 from Amazon UK by taking advantage of a one-off Click & Collect promotion they were offering at the time.

Artwork.
The artwork, design and layout were done by Jeff Schulz who also was the same chap who did the design for Ordinary Man. The cover art was done by I Love Dust who are based in the UK and also do work for Sony Music Entertainment. Taking care of the photography was Ross Halfin whose photos have appeared in countless magazines, posters, tour programs and just about anything you could name.

Release Editions…

As with many new releases, there is always an array of various physical formats to suit your pocket, it’s also good to see that the physical format is on the up in relation to download and streaming these days. I personally think it makes sense especially when you can pick up the CD for more or less the same price as a Digital Download, and the CD package below is the cheapest way of obtaining the album. It’s also my preferred choice and can be had for around £12.

There is also an alternative CD Edition that is limited and comes in a 3-panel cardboard Oversized Softpack (as seen below) and there were a couple of things that put me off this release the first of which is that it is oversized. Honestly designers these days must come with the brains of a rocking horse and the flaw with this design being oversized is that in most media storage cabinets there is no way you will be able to store it along with your other Ozzy albums.

The second thing that put me off was its ridiculous price point and the cheapest I saw this for was £16 and in most places, you can pay anywhere from £18 – £22. The booklet even has fewer pages and you only get 12-pages with this release. It does however come with a poster which might come in handy should you run out of toilet paper 😊😊😊.

One of the other older formats that is making a comeback these days is the Cassette and the very fact that it is gives the music industry another opportunity to rip you off. In all honesty, I consider the price of vinyl these days a rip-off but this really takes the biscuit or in plain English terms the piss.

I’ve always seen the Cassette as the lowest of the low when it comes to physical formats and these things can easily get mangled no matter how well you maintain your Cassette player. Speaking of players or decks you really need an older one in relation to the ones that are sold new on the market today. The fact that they stopped making them for a long period of time very much reflects how poorly built they are these days. The other thing that is missing from Cassettes you buy these days is Dolby Noise Reduction so you will have to make do with all the hiss.

Back in the days when Cassettes were more popular, the pre-recorded album sold slightly cheaper than a vinyl album and I was absolutely both shocked and stunned to see that these days they are selling between £18 – £28. These are absolutely rip-off prices in my book and the recording company is taking people for a right MUG! They must think we are all LOONIES! 😊😊😊.

For vinyl lovers, there is a wide choice of colours to choose from most of which are limited to around 500 copies. There are actually more colours than I have on display here and some even come with a comic book. Unlike the previous release of Ordinary Man, it has been pressed onto 2 X 180gram LP’s.

There is also a picture disc and prices range from around £28 – £32 for the coloured vinyl and around £38 for the picture disc. Surprisingly the 2 LP’s come in a single sleeve instead of a Gatefold and they really are cutting corners with this release.

The Album In Review…

Ozzy Osbourne’s 13th studio album Patient Number 9 was released on the 9th of September 2022. To tie in with the number of the release it comes with 13 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 61 minutes, 10 seconds. It is perhaps on the lengthy side and quite a bit to digest, though not really a double album’s worth of material and the fact that they have had to use two LP’s to squeeze it on makes it even more expensive for vinyl lovers.

The album was received very well upon its release and did better than his previous album reaching number 1′ on the US Billboard charts and number 2′ on the UK’s official album charts. It also hit the number-one spot in Canada, Sweden and Czechoslovakia and the music press had plenty of good things to say about it. Metal Hammer gave it a raving review stating the following:

“Despite everything you may have heard about Ozzy being on his last legs, Patient Number 9 unequivocally does not sound like the work of a man living on borrowed time. Instead, it sounds like the Prince of fucking Darkness having an absolutely smashing time, with a bunch of his mates and, weirdly, a newfound sense of artistic ambition”.

Speaking of mates both guitarists Zakk Wylde and his former bandmate Tony Iommi appear on the album. The latter of the two also appeared with him on stage in August this year performing “Paranoid” at the closing of the Commonwealth Games which was held n my home town of Birmingham.

It was Ozzy’s first live performance in nearly three years and his first since undergoing a major operation on his neck in the summer of this year. Ozzy has certainly been in the wars over the years regarding his health and is still fighting an ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease. He has also scheduled a tour for next year and so far has announced 19 dates between May and June across Europe and the UK.

More recently on the 8th of September Ozzy put in another short live performance at the SoFi Stadium in California for the opening of the match between the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills. In both of these live performances, you can clearly see and hear that Ozzy has not lost one single shred of his voice.

He still even looks the part though no doubt the makeup contributes a lot to that, even so I very much doubt that no makeup artist could make Keith Richards look any younger he may even be proof of the living dead 😊😊😊. Joking apart I do think as well as Ozzy looks in these live performances they are only short appearances in relation to going out and touring and playing a whole show. It would not surprise me if many of the scheduled tour dates get cancelled due to his health issues.

Speaking of other guitarists the other two legendary guitar players that make a contribution to the album are Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. Pearl Jam’s guitarist Mike McCready also so gets to feature on a track and just like his last album, there are an array of musicians that have been brought in. No expense has been spared and fingers crossed that he is able to fulfil these tour dates to pay for it all.

As with the previous album, most of the material was recorded at Andrew Watt’s own studios Gold Tooth Music in Beverly Hills. He along with Osbourne contributed to most of the writing along with the other musicians who make up the main core of the band such as Metalica’s bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and the Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins also get writing credits and it appears that almost everyone who played on the album got a writing credit. Although the singer-songwriter Ali Tamposi does not appear on the album, she also contributes to the writing of most of the songs and even Iommi is credited to one of them.

Various other studios were also utilised and used by some of the guest guitarists such as Beck, Clapton and Iommi who would have recorded their parts at their own studios and sent the stems to Watt to be mixed into the final mixing process by mixing engineer Alan Moulder. The album was mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis studios in London, England where even that can be done online these days.

Musicians & Credits…

Produced by Andrew Watt. Recorded at Gold Tooth Music Studios Beverly Hills, US. Additional Studio’s Mill House, The Black Vatican & Tone Hall. Engineered by Paul LaMalfa. Additional Engineering by Marco Sonzini & Mike Exeter. Mixing Engineer Alan Moulder. Mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis, London. Artwork Design by Jeff Schulz. Cover Art by iLove Dust. Photography by Ross Halfin.

Musicians.
Ozzy Osbourne: Lead Vocals – Harmonica (Tracks 10 & 13).
Andrew Watt: Guitar (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12) – Bass Guitar (Tracks 4, 6, 7, 9, 12) – Keyboards (Tracks 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12) – Piano (Tracks 3, 6, 12) – Drums (Tracks 11,& 12) – Backing Vocals.
Zakk Wylde: Guitar (Tracks 1, 3, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12) – Keyboards (Tracks 1, 5, 7, 8, 9).
Robert Trujillo: Bass (Tracks 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12).
Chad Smith: Drums (Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

Additional Musicians.
Jeff Beck: Guitar (Tracks 1 & 6).
Tony Iommi: Guitar (Tracks 4 & 10).
Eric Clapton: Guitar (Track 5).
Mike McCready: Guitar (Track 2)
Josh Homme: Guitar (Track 12).
Robert Trujillo: Bass (Tracks 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12).
Duff McKagan: Bass (Tracks 2 & 5).
Chris Chaney: Bass (Track 8).
Taylor Hawkins: Drums (Tracks 3, 7, 12).
James Poyser: Organ (Track 5).

String Arrangments by David Campbell. Violin Players: Charlie Bisharat, Roberto Cani, Mario DeLeon, Nina Evtuhov, Songa Lee, Natalie Leggett, Philipp Levy, Alyssa Park, Michele Richards, Neil Samples, Jennifer Takamatsu, Kerenza Peackock & Sara Parkins. Viola Players: Andrew Duckles, Zachary Dellinger & David Walther. Cello Players: Jacob Braun, Paula Hochhalter & Ross Gasworth.

The Album Tracks In Review…

Ozzy’s new album Patient Number 9 has received so many favourable reviews that it has been nominated for Best Rock Album at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards. It’s a very powerful album and so heavy that it’s verging more towards heavy metal than rock in parts, though that particular genre has always played a part in his career since his days with Black Sabbath which many have cited as the band that started it all off. I would personally go along with that myself simply because when Sabbath released their debut album back in 1970 I cannot recall any other band sounding as heavy as they were.

Over the years many other forms or genres of metal have appeared including thrash, grunge and all sorts many of which are not to my personal taste especially those with singers that growl in relation to singing. Over the years Ozzy’s style of music has never really changed and I have yet to hear a really bad album amongst the twelve that were put out before the one we have here. Granted some are better than others and no doubt everyone will have their GOTO! albums that they will more often go to out of the dozen albums that have surfaced since his solo career took off back in 1980.

When you look at the biggest majority of artists, you will find most classic songs come from their earlier albums in relation to the many that come along after. Personally, I’ve never found that to be the case with Ozzy and over the years many of his albums have churned out some really GREAT! classic songs. I could also say the same for the time he spent with Sabbath and that band churned out many classics between 1970 – 1976. So let’s now delve into his latest album and see if we can find any more.

Track 1. Patient Number 9.

The album kicks off in fine style and speaking of styles the intro in particular borders around Alice Cooper’s style, so too does the lyrical content that evolves around the subject matter of being locked up in a loony bin so to speak. Even the BEATLE-ESC! come-down section that comes into play around the 4-minute and 35-second mark has a resemblance musically to Cooper’s 1975 album Welcome To My Nightmare. Though regardless of the similarities and comparisons there can be no doubt that this is 100% Ozzy Osbourne and he is back to his very best.

“Patient Number 9” is a song that’s fueled on heavy distortion and I must admit when I first heard this particular track Ozzy’s voice was not exactly projecting to me as I have come to know it over all these years. However, on the second listen it soon became quite apparent that this is the voice of Ozzy back in his heyday and his voice has never changed over all those years. The way his voice cuts through all the distortion tells me that this is a very good mix even if the distortion does make it feel like there is a lot of mud flying around.

It’s the longest track on the album weighing in at 7-minutes, 22-seconds and the way the song diverts its direction could be seen as verging on the PROGMATIC! side of things, though perhaps not as much as “Revelation (Mother Earth)” from his debut album. It’s also one of two tracks on the album to feature Jeff Beck on guitar, although his distinguishing guitar style does not resonate with me here and if somebody had told me that Beck was playing the guitar on this track I would most likely say “you’ve got to be kidding me”.

The more I got to hear this song, the more I got to like it and it has a very catchy chorus that is that strong it will have you singing along with it in no time at all. It takes a good song to do that and it’s easy to see how the album’s self-titled track (which was the first single release) reached number one on the American Billboard Hot Hard Rock Songs chart on the 22nd of June. It is without a doubt one of the many standout tracks on this album and could even be seen as a classic. It’s also my personal favourite track on the album and picks up the album’s TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 2. Immortal.

One of the shorter songs on the album and this is a song about vampires and not Keith Richards to which some would presume he is immortal. The song features Pearl Jam’s guitarist Mike McCready and is driven along by a simple riff that makes the song very familiar with some of Ozzy’s earlier songs from his first 4 albums. You could say that Ozzy is barking at the moon once again and once again this is like hearing the man himself back in his heyday.

Track 3. Parasite.

One of the four songs on the album to feature Ozzy’s longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde who does some blistering lead work on this one. It’s a very hard-driven song where the riff is verging towards a Sabbath riff and oddly enough Ozzy’s vocal line in the verse sections as me thinking of “Gypsies Tramps & Thieves” by Sonny & Cher, although the grinding metal and lyrical content are completely different. Apparently, Ozzy likes worms and the ones eating him inside in this haunting tale is that of his father who appears to be clinging to him like a leech so to speak.

Track 4. No Escape from Now.

There are no escaping Tony Iommi’s guitar riffs just as sure as there is no escaping the absurdity in the world and the lyrical content we have here could easily be referring to the political madness that exists in the world today along with all the other mayhem that goes with it. With Iommi’s presence, we are instantly reminded of Sabbath with the musical side of things and the intro and outro will have you thinking along the lines of “Planet Caravan” from the band’s second studio album Paranoid in particular with the Leslie speaker that Ozzy used to create the vocal effect.

Like the opening track, this is a song that goes through some diverse changes and even Iommi’s lead break that comes into play at the 4:46 mark will put you in mind of Sabbath. It perhaps is not as catchy as the opening track but I personally think the lyrical side of things we have here is very cleverly written and they hold this song up as much as the musical side of things.

Track 5. One Of Those Days. 

Anger and depression spring to mind with the subject matter behind the lyrical content of this song and I’m sure we hall have had one of those days when we don’t believe in Jesus or God for that matter, especially when one loses a loved one. Although these days with all the corruption, insanity and mayhem that is going on throughout the world that also could equate to having one of these days. Unlike the previous song, I personally think the lyrical side of things could have been done better and even though they do get to the point one could perhaps derive something else from them than how I see it.

It’s a song that features yet another legendary guitarist Eric Clapton and unlike the albums self-titled track that features Jeff Beck, you can instantly identify Clapton’s formidable style. Ozzy specifically pointed out that he wanted Clapton to play WAH! on the track as he recalled from his days with Cream all those years ago, there is no denying that Clapton did precisely what was required and his playing on this instantly reminds me of “White Room” from all those years ago as you will hear in the official video release of the song.

Despite the weak lyrics, I do feel the musical side of things holds this song up very well and along with the opening track, it’s very much another one of the stand-out tracks on the album and in contention for the album’s TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 6. A Thousand Shades.

The second of the two tracks to feature Jeff Beck and this one is perhaps more suited for his particular style to resonate more than the albums opening track. Oddly enough it also has a BEATLE-ESC! feel about it and Beck does an excellent job to make his presence known on the solo. The subject matter behind the lyrics may very well be pointing out how nothing ever really changes and the more they do they remain the same.

It’s very much another quality well-written song that utilises a strong string section conducted and arranged by David Campbell. It is also another of the album’s stand-out tracks and one I am sure will be a firm favourite with many.

Track 7. Mr. Darkness.

It appears that the prince of darkness is either writing letters to the devil or somebody is writing to the man himself. However, the lyrical content could also be pointing to a desperate cry for help and the fact that no reply is coming is a means to end it all. Whatever the lyrical side of things is related to in this song there is a sense of desperation, loss and loneliness. Musically the song has some powerful transitions that raise the game to rock it out a bit more and give it a bit more edge, and Wylde’s lead lines are quite blistering.

Track 8. Nothing Feels Right.

Like the previous song, the lyrical content is derived around wanting to put an end to it all perhaps a bit like “Suicide Solution” in this case as far as the lyrics are concerned. It also features some fine lead work by Zakk Wylde as with the previous song and has perhaps a bit more melodic structure to it. There are some GREAT! melodies that pop out on quite a few tracks on the album and this is easily another stand-out track on the album and one that should sit with many methinks.

Track 9. Evil Shuffle.

The heavy tones are back and this is Wylde’s final contribution to the album to which he is supported very well by Robert Trujillo’s bass. Although it’s not “Evil Woman” or even “Dirty Women” for that matter, there is a Sabbath vibe with the weight of the metal on this song. One could also say that darkness looms into the realms of madness regarding the lyrical content here and one could say that Ozzy is dancing with the devil.

Track 10. Degradation Rules.

The second of the tracks to feature Tony Iommi and he also gets a writing credit on this one. Ozzy’s harmonica may have you thinking along the lines of “The Wizard” though it’s far removed from that Sabbath song and drives along at a faster pace. It’s a song about masturbation and there are not a lot of lyrics in the song though what makes it work more than anything is how Ozzy phrases the words.

Track 11. Dead and Gone.

There is no doubt that Andrew Watt had listened to Ozzy’s back catalogue when putting some of these songs together and the bass line on this particular song harks back to the self-titled track from Ozzy’s fourth album Ultimate Sin. This song also sounds like it had a different production in relation to the rest of the songs on the album and it also makes use of Campbell’s section to drive it along in parts.

Track 12. God Only Knows.

This is another song that harks back to Ozzy’s past and this song has an even stronger resemblance to his earlier material and is like a cross between “I Don’t Know” and “No More Tears” to some degree, especially with how Ozzy phrases his words. I am sure there are other things thrown in the pot here that hark back to his earlier days. This could easily be seen as another stand-out track on the album and the chorus line is so strong it will have you singing along to it. However, the similarities are perhaps a bit too obvious for my liking.

Track 13. Darkside Blues.

The album ends off with a bit of blues and this short little ditty of a song was most likely left over from the previous album and was used as a bonus track on the Japanese release of Ordinary Man. It was written by Osbourne and Watt and it is only the two of them who are playing on this one and both are having a good bit of fun with the blues by the sound of things. It’s perhaps unusual for Ozzy to play the blues and it puts the album to bed quite well methinks.

Summary & Conclusion…

To sum up and conclude my review of Patient Number 9 by Ozzy Osbourne, I very much think that this is very much an album that is up there with the best of them and in terms of ranking Ozzy’s studio albums, this would easily sit in my top five of his albums along with Blizzard Of Ozz, Diary Of A Madman, No More Tears and Ozzmosis. Although the album is on the lengthy side and may have worked better by trimming it down by 10 or 15 minutes, I do feel there are quite a good few standout tracks to keep one more attentive towards the album.

I would not say that it’s a solid album by any means but then again I don’t personally think there is a bad track among the 13 you get here it is quite a strong body of work and the material holds up very well. I would also say considering Ozzy’s age and his recent health issues this is quite a remarkable achievement. Although I am not into the musician side of Andrew Watt I have to give praise to his production skills and his attention to detail towards Osbourne’s music in particular plays a pivotal point in how well the material on this album stands out so well.

From recent interviews, I have seen of Ozzy a lot of how his voice still sounds like it did back in his heyday comes from the way he double-tracks his vocals though it would not surprise me if some tweaking as been done in the studio process. But then again his voice has never really changed over the years and even when I saw him live with Black Sabbath back in 1999 he sang those songs like he did on the studio albums and never struggled with a single note and sang them with ease.

Listening to Ozzy on this album there is no way you could call him an old fart and he is without a doubt back to his very best. Patient Numer 9 is an album that will rock your socks off in a good way and an album I would consider a must for all Ozzy fans and rockers alike. This could very well be Ozzy’s final album but if it is I certainly think he’s gone out on a high and an album I would highly recommend. It has so many stand-out tracks it’s almost like a Greatist Hits album my personal highlights are as follows: “Patient Number 9“, “No Escape From Now“, “One Of Those Days“, “A Thousand Shades“, “Nothing Feels Right” and “God Only Knows“.

A Positive Album To Go Out On…

The CD tracklisting is as follows:
01. Patient Number 9. 7:22.
02. Immortal. 3:03.
03. Parasite.4:05.
04. No Escape From Now. 6:46.
05. One Of Those Days. 4:40.
06. A Thousand Shades. 4:26.
07. Mr. Darkness. 5:35.
08. Nothing Feels Right. 5:35.
09. Evil Shuffle. 4:10.
10. Degradation Rules. 4:10.
11. Dead And Gone. 4:32.
12. God Only Knows. 5:00.
13. Darkside Blues. 1:49.

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.
The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.
The Album Rating Score. 8/10.

 

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2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music…#218

  1. I am also amazed how good Ozzy still is at his age. For me his voice has not lost one bit of its character and has not changed at all, while – as you have mentioned – Plant’s voice has degraded a lot since his heydays. Regarding Plant I remember, that he suffered very early from a serious throat infection and his voice changed drastically early around 1972. You can hear this, when you compare live-performances before and after. I know he smoked and in combination with singing songs at the top of your range every evening this must have been too much stress for his vocal-chords. You know I have covered some LZ-songs, but I could not imagine to sing those parts every evening on a long tour. I would loose my voice within three days.
    Back to Ozzy: I have listened to some songs of this new album and I agree, that it’s stronger compared to “Ordinary man” and more consistent. He has teamed up with many big names, but I have never the impression, that the songs or the album are falling apart because of too many big Egos involved. By the way Taylor Hawkins on March 25th and this might be his last work. I like the solo-work of Ozzy maybe a bit more than Black Sabbath and this could be an album, which I would buy myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ozzy’s voice has never sounded so good and I would place this album as his 3rd best after the first two albums. Alice Cooper’s latest album Detroit Stories which he released last year is incredible and it takes me right back to the Schools Out album in the early 70’s. They are all brand-new songs and it sounds like every track is a hit. It has to be one of the best rock albums I have heard in YONKS!

    Like

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