Listen To Fools: Andy Burns on New Ozzy, Classic Sabbath and Why Dio Rules

Ozzy, dear old Ozzy,

You are rock and roll to me.

Half-deaf, drunk, and drooling

With your nagging, chronic knees.

– Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne, Written By Dave Bidini (The Rheostatics)

Ok, I know that for the Ozzy purist’s thems is fighting words. But since discovering the Dio era of Black Sabbath a few years ago, when the reunited line-up of Dio/Iommi/Butler and drummer Vinnie Appice hit the road under the banner Heaven and Hell, I’ve really been immersed in just how much better a band they are with Dio at the helm. First of all, technically speaking, Dio is the superior singer. He holds his notes longer and stronger and he’s got a fantastic range. Even at the admittedly dizzying heights of their first four albums, I don’t think you could say that Ozzy was an awesome singer. A unique singer, sure. And his voice had character before he actually became one. But I don’t hear a great singer in there. Not like Dio, at least. Maybe it’s because songs like “Heaven and Hell”, “The Mob Rules”, and “Lady Evil” haven’t been beaten do death. Or maybe it’s because they’re just better songs than much of Ozzy’s run in Black Sabbath. I mean seriously, could you not live your life fully satisfied for the rest of your days if you never heard “Paranoid” or “War Pigs” again? I’m pretty sure I could.

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So why the sudden attack on Ozzy and the impassioned love of Dio? Well there is the fact of the new Ozzy album on the way, but also because Sanctuary/Universal Music in the UK has reissued the two early 80’s classic Dio/Black Sabbath, 1980’s Heaven and Hell and the 1981 follow-up Mob Rules. These are two of the heaviest hard rock albums you’ll ever hear and stand tall beside the best music of the genre. Knowing that they had something prove following the firing of Ozzy Osbourne from the band in 1979, the combination of Tony Iommi’s riffage and Dio’s voice and lyrics crafted songs with more depth than Sabbath had demonstrated for years. Dio, straight and confident, stepped into Ozzy’s shoes and once again made the band the sum of their parts. Maybe it’s the remastering job, which brings out Butler’s jaw-dropping bass lines and Bill Ward’s swinging drums (and the power of his replacement Vinnie Appice on Mob Rules) but I’m guessing this is the best these albums have sounded since they were released some 30 years ago.

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The liner notes and packaging are also top notch for these deluxe reissues, which both come with a second disc of live music from their respective tours. In the case of Mob Rules, that double disc is Live At Hammersmith Odeon, which was previously only available as a limited edition from Rhino Handmade in the U.S. and is now readily available to the masses (leaving collectors no doubt a little ticked). These reissues certainly leave me pleased that I only ever spent the some money on the digital version of The Rules Of Hell box set from 2008, which originally compiled the Dio-era Sabbath albums (including Live Evil and Dehumanizer) but offered nothing in the way of bonus tracks.

Of course, every one is going to have their preference. I know some Ozzy fans out there that, when they heard I was writing this piece, started in on me mercilessly. But there are others who proudly stand in my corner, their devil horns flying in the air while Dio wails away about the kings and queens who will blind your eyes and steal your dreams. If you’ve never heard Dio-era Black Sabbath, I heartily recommend spending the money on the Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules reissues. Buying them off Amazon.co.uk will run you roughly 30 dollars total, including shipping, which is an absolute steal for these double disc imports. But believe me, they’re worth the investment to learn just how awesome Black Sabbath was without Ozzy upfront.

3 Replies to “Listen To Fools: Andy Burns on New Ozzy, Classic Sabbath and Why Dio Rules”

  1. for me … Ozzy links with Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Jake E Lee and they all lay down some AMAZING guitar riffs and particularly solos on Ozzy records…

    Ozzy has also led a very interesting 'rock star' lifestyle … especially back before my time from what I have read ie. pissing on the alamo while wearing his wifes dress only, the dove thing in… See More the meeting before he even starts his solo career, enormous amounts of drugs and liquor meaning his songs about them are very heartfelt, mr. rhoads crashing into Ozzy's bus with a plane knocking it over and crashing into houses nearby where Ozzy got out and helped people get out of the houses while his friend and musical brother just died in a freak accident… that's pretty crazy lol and entertaining stuff

    what did Dio do? CLAIM to start the devil horns …

    Also Ozzy is a huge icon and has been long before his family MTV show … i have met a lot of good people with Ozzy tattooed on their knuckles and albeit I wouldn't get one, I think that is badass and obviously attributes Ozzy as being dear to their hearts. Granted people have Dio tattoos but I think its obvious Ozzy is more far reaching in that aspect.

    and lastly … Ozzy is just better cause his songs are better imo… War Pigs is an awesome song, i can't believe you said that lol and for me I really like sabbaths first record and Ozzy is awesome on it

    … Ozzy's solo career I also really enjoy up until the late 90's where it drifts off into … him just being too old … he really should have stopped a long time ago imo cause he stinks at live shows now

    Dio … Holy Diver? are you serious? lol

    better than Ozzy? not a chance

    I'd say your only good argument for him being 'better' is that he can sing better NOWADAYS … a Dio show would be a better performance than Ozzy in present day … and that's just obvious… but it means very little as we are comparing tortoises here…

    And as for Dio doing better with Black Sabbath / Heaven and Hell … that is really a backwards thing to say isn't it? Black Sabbath just wouldn't really be (in the first place) without Ozzy… no matter how good the riffs… it's the singing that is distinct that people recognize and Dio – bottom line – Ozzy's replacement… to replicate Ozzy… otherwise they wouldn't ever try to have Ozzy sing with them again … which they did and it was a huge success

    Ozzy is has done it all and has impacted a lot of people's lives all over the world … including Dio's, mine … and I have to assume yours as well

    I can still play the entire Bark at the Moon solo on geetar 🙂

    and THAT – is my actual explanation for why Ozzy is better than Dio!

    you want to publish it? lol

    IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH IN THE BUSH

  2. You know, there's a little bit of truth and a lot of fiction in the way we remember Ozzy in and out of Sabbath.

    Anonymous…you should hear Andy B's impersonation of the man! Now that's rockin!

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