Three Great Albums That Sound Like Shit

Blue Oyster Cult’s first three albums: A masterclass in 70’s hard rock songwriting and tasteful playing, equal parts nuance and bombast, delivered with both menace with considerable wit. But let’s face it: they sound like shit. Words like ‘thin’, ‘flat’, and ‘tepid’ are often used to describe the sound quality of these records. Imagine the impact this trio of albums would have had if they shared the production value of other contemporary US hard rock bands; say, Aerosmith or Montrose. Methinks BOC would have had a much better chance of achieving their initial goal of becoming ‘The American Black Sabbath’ had these records sounded like what they looked like.

The sub-par sound doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of these records at all; in fact, ‘Secret Treaties’ is one of my top three favorite albums of all time. Production value is only one element of a record’s overall success; if the songwriting’s great, and the playing’s stellar, it’s easy to overlook a record’s sonic shortcomings. Most of us grew up listening to badly-produced records before we really knew or cared about the sound quality of the music we listened to. Some of us still don’t care. I do; when I hear a record like ‘Tyranny and Mutation’, and those crazy, crafty and cryptic tunes, I hear a missed opportunity; I want it to knock me flat on my ass, but it just doesn’t have the visceral impact that it could.

Of course this is all just my opinion. In my own musical universe, there are a handful of albums that frustrate me endlessly because, to my mind, the sonics just don’t live up to the caliber of the material or the level of the performances. But I get it: inadequate budgets, inexperienced producers, bad decisions and drugs happen. Truth be told, I wouldn’t change a single second of any of these records… I love them all dearly… But it’s hard not to lament what might have been. Here are my three favorite examples:

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Kiss/Hotter Than Hell
So many things went wrong for Kiss in 1974, it’s a wonder they made it to ’75. Sales of the debut failed to live up to expectations, so a mere six months after the release of their debut, their label, Casablanca, pulled them off the road and shoved them back into the studio for a quick follow-up. The production duo of Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise were again tapped to produce, but had both moved to California, so the four New Yorkers flew to sunny Los Angeles to record their all-important 2nd record. The project was regarded by Casablanca as ‘make or break’; not only for Kiss, but for the label as well. The fledgling label had just lost it’s distribution deal with Warner Brothers Records, and Warner’s promotional budget with it. A lot was riding on this record…

Several books have been written on the early days of Kiss, including biographies by all four members. Each tells the same story about how difficult the sessions for ‘Hotter than Hell’ were: the band hated LA, Kerner and Wise hated the studio, Ace wrecked his rental car and was injured, Paul Stanley’s custom-made Flying V was stolen on the day the sessions began. Wah. None of this had anything to do with why this record sounds like a garbage can filled with forks rolling down a stairwell. The real culprits were Kerner and Wise.

While the pair had done a decent job on Kiss’ debut, Wise wanted to move the band’s sound in a different direction. Hoping to better align their music with their image, Wise planned to move the band away from their rock n roll core and toward a heavier, more menacing sound. This was Stupid Idea #1. Stupid Idea #2 was to record everything ‘hot’, meaning distorted, needle-in-the-red ‘hot’. As in ‘Hotter Than Hell’. Get it? Wise stated in the book “Kiss: Behind the Mask” that ‘It’s the worst-sounding album I ever recorded. It was overly compressed and overdriven. I’ll take the blame for wanting to make it heavy and distorted… The intent was to make a Black Sabbath kind of sounding record, but it just didn’t pan out sonically.’ He also called it ‘…very harsh and just disgusting.’ Paul Stanley’s bio also acknowledges that the distortion in the recording was intended.

Several songs on ‘Hotter than Hell’ have risen from the murk and gone on to become bona fide Kiss Klassics; a testament to the strength of the material. Unfortunately this clusterfuck recording renders them almost unlistenable. Even with huge advances in recording technology, this recording simply cannot be fixed. When Kiss put out their ‘Double Platinum’ best-of in 1978, most of the songs included were remixed, but the two from HtH were not… because it wouldn’t have helped. The distorted signal that Wise was after is printed on the original tapes, and it’s there to stay. The Kiss catalog was remastered in 1997, allowing Kiss fans to hear this godawful sludgy mess with crystal clarity.

The Kiss story almost ended right there in the control room of Village Recorders in West Los Angeles, California. ‘Hotter Than Hell’ flopped hard, peaking on the charts even lower than the debut. After the failure of HtH, Kiss faced losing their recording contract, and Casablanca faced bankruptcy. Four months later, Kiss was once again forced off the road and into the studio. Dressed to Kill was Kiss’ third album in 13 months, was NOT produced by Kerner and Wise, and peaked at #32. The rest is history.

Rainbow-Rising

Rainbow/Rising
What could one say about Rainbow’s 1976 classic, ‘Rising’, that hasn’t already been said? How about this: ‘It sounds like shit.’ Some of Metal’s greatest performers deliver some of their strongest performances here, and there’s a handful of indisputably classic songs on hand (side two is flawless). However, all of the epic grandeur of Blackmore/Dio’s finest hour (34 minutes, actually) is buried in a resoundingly flat, one-dimensional mix, devoid of any discernable bottom end, and utterly lacking the clarity and depth that this material calls for. The strength of the songs and the musicianship shines through, making this record an absolute classic of the genre… But sonically, it sucks.

‘Rising’ was recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany; same studio that hosted the ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’ sessions a year earlier. Martin Birch helmed both records. So how come the sonics on ‘Rising’ are so… crappy? Well… Birch’s initial mix (completed in LA) was rejected by the band’s label as being ‘too bass-heavy’, and the album was remixed (in NY). It’s the NY remix of the record that was pressed onto plastic. What went wrong here? Cozy Powell sounds like he’s playing in a separate room; bassist Jimmy Bain in another zip code. Dio’s vocals sound phoned-in… literally. In the louder, busier passages (and what’s HM if not loud n’ busy), the sound dissolves into an annoying grey mess.

Things were rectified somewhat in 1986, with ‘Rising’s first appearance on CD. Birch’s original LA mix was utilized when the record was mastered, as Polydor were unable to locate the master tapes of the NY mix. This version of the album sounds pretty great, with Bain’s bass loud and clear, Dios vox are warmer and several layers of guitar and keyboard overdubs apparent that were barely audible on the NY mix. This version was available commercially for a little over a decade, until Polydor remastered the entire Rainbow catalog in 1999.

‘Rising’s ’99 remaster utilized Birch’s NY remix… But how, if the original tapes weren’t available? The mastering engineers at Polydor utilized the ‘needle-drop’ method; they used a vinyl copy of the album, plus tons of noise reduction and digital tweaking. This was done mainly so the label could market the remaster as the ‘original mix’. But the original ‘original’ mix was in fact the LA mix… Are ya confused yet? The ’99 remaster does sound decent, considering it’s source material. Thankfully, this epic saga has a happy ending.

In 2011, 35 years after the album’s original release, a Deluxe Edition of Rainbow’s ‘Rising’ was issued in a two-CD set. Both the NY and LA versions are featured, both newly mastered, providing nerds like me a great way to compare both mixes. The remaster of Birch’s original LA mix wins hands-down. On disc 2, a rough mix of the entire album is included, and even it sounds better than the NY remix ordered by the label. Moral of the story? Don’t mess with a Martin Birch Mix. Perhaps the Mystery of the New York Mix will be explained in Birch’s book…

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UFO/Obsession
Okay, this one’s probably just personal preference.

UFO’s fifth Schenker-riffic album, Obsession, contains some of the greatest lead guitar playing of the 1970’s. To capture it, producer Ron Nevison located a disused post office building just outside of Los Angeles, set up Schenker’s favorite 50-watt Marshall head on top of 2 a Marshall 4×12 cabinet and let the German genius wail away at will into the cavernous space. The sublime tone and fiery attack of Schenker’s lead work never sounded better.

Nevison’s approach to recording the rhythm guitar tracks was a bit different. The famed British producer had previously produced and/or engineered records by The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, and The Rolling Stones, so nobody argued when the legendary producer set up microphones around a Pignose amplifier.

The ‘Pignose’ amplifier is a small, portable, battery-operated 5-watt amp that employs a single 5-inch speaker. It was created as a practice amp that could be used in a variety of places and situations without having to plug in to a power outlet. The Pignose ‘sound’ at it’s best is a mid-to-high end processed fuzz/crunch; nasal and treble-y, but certainly decent enough for warming up backstage or practicing quietly at home without disturbing Mom and Dad. But when it comes to 70s Hard Rock, isn’t disturbing Mom and Dad mandatory?

To these ears, the rhythm guitars on ‘Obsession’ sound barely demo-worthy. The riffs written into the harder songs sound limp, fuzzy… almost comical. The Pignose was used by Nevison on UFO’s previous album ‘Lights Out’, but merely as one more guitar sound for that record’s expansive sonic palate. On ‘Obsession’, the Pignose’s signature ‘sound’ is harnessed and expressly highlighted, removing the crunch and punch from some potentially monstrous riffs and creating several infuriating moments of near-parody, subverting the very idea of riff rock itself. Perhaps Nevison was aiming to play with the contrast between the two sounds; it doesn’t work.

Where the Pignose works well is in the record’s quieter moments; the li’l champ adds some textured delicacy to the chorus of ‘Born to Lose’ and to the intro to ‘I Ain’t No Baby, as well as some brassy, trumpet-like sass to ‘Lookin’ Out for No. 1 (Reprise)’. But Oh, how I would LOVE to hear the balls-out rockers like ‘Hot n’ Ready’, ‘Pack It Up (and Go)’, or ‘One more for the Rodeo’ played through Schenker’s own equipment, or maybe (since we’re daydreaming here) through brother Rudy’s Scorps gear. Imagine if the Mad Axeman had rejected that rizzy little box with the Radio Shack speaker, and instead tore into ‘Only You Can Rock Me’ with the ‘post office’ set-up… Talk about ‘going postal’!

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NWOBHM: Year One

Punk Rock was the best thing that ever happened to Heavy Metal. Like the comet that struck the earth killed off the dinosaurs, Punk’s impact destroyed the status quo and wiped the slate clean for rock music to reinvent itself. Punk slayed the arena gods of the 70’s, and demanded that you didn’t have to be a musical genius to express yourself musically; anyone could form a band, and everyone should form a band.

Ultimately, Punk rock’s success doomed it to failure, as it eventually assimilated into the very thing it was programmed to destroy: the mainstream. Of course, during Punk’s brief reign, the Metalheads were still out there, both fans and bands, biding their time, awaiting their moment. Punk didn’t kill Heavy Metal; it just drove it underground. In one such underground haven, a hall called The Bandwagon, Metal had found a place to weather the Punk rock storm. Attached to the side of the Prince of Wales Pub at Kingsbury Circle, London, this unlikely setting would become Ground Zero for the Rebirth of Heavy Metal.

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Neal Kay was a true believer. As the DJ at the Bandwagon, he created and cultivated a haven for Metalheads, giving them a place to gather and listen to the music they loved through one of the loudest PA systems in London. The Bandwagon was always packed to the rafters, and Kay knew he could make it even more popular with the support of the press. So Kay began calling Sounds writer Geoff Barton, the paper’s resident hard-rocker, and inviting him down to cover the bandwagon.

Barton finally paid the Bandwagon a visit, and was stunned by what he saw. Heavy Metal was alive and kicking in at least one place in Punk-ravaged Britain. He wrote a piece on the scene called ‘Wednesday Night Fever’ which ran in the August 19, 1978 issue of Sounds, one of the UK’s leading music papers. Kay also convinced the weekly to publish a Heavy Metal chart, solely based on requests the DJ received from the regulars at the Bandwagon. Most of what appeared on the chart was music by bands from the pre-Punk era: UFO, Priest, Rush, Scorpions, Rainbow. Suddenly the Bandwagon, and Heavy Metal in general, was receiving coverage by one of the most important music papers in the country.

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It can’t be a coincidence then, that in November of ’78, the BBC began airing the Friday Rock Show. Hosted by Tommy Vance, The Friday Rock Show would do basically the same thing that Kay was doing at the Bandwagon, but on a much larger scale: give the metal masses a destination to hear their music. Vance played current HM singles and album cuts, but also plundered the BBC archives for songs recorded exclusively for the Beeb. Archival recordings by Cream, Hendrix, Deep Purple, UFO, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, and many more featured regularly on Vance’s show. Metal was now receiving regular national exposure through two of the nation’s biggest media outlets. But thus far, no new metal bands had arrived on the scene…

In London’s East End, a band called Iron Maiden was struggling to secure gigs outside of their own neighborhood. The band hoped that recording a demo would help them widen their reach. Four songs were laid down on New Year’s Eve, 1978 at Spaceward Studios in Cambridge. The members of the band were Bandwagon regulars, and eventually they handed a copy of the tape to Neal Kay, not in the hopes that he’ll play it, but hoping it might help them get gigs in the area. Kay is floored by the tape, and begins playing the track ‘Prowler’ regularly. The Bandwagon regulars eat it up. ‘Prowler’ debuts on the Sounds HM chart at #23, but by April 21st, the song tops the chart. Iron Maiden receive national exposure for the first time.

Underground Heavy Metal bands all across the UK take notice. This new breed of Metal band adopts an important element of Punk Rock’s DIY ethos: they make their own records and sell them at gigs or via mail order. Even the music is influenced by Punk, with shorter, more immediate songs and a brash, in-your-face intensity. During the 12 months between Maiden’s appearance on Kay’s chart and their debut album’s entry into the UK charts in April of 1980, British Metal gradually emerges from exile and evolves into a true musical movement. ‘Ere’s ‘ow it ‘appened:

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April 1979: Iron Maiden’s ‘Prowler’ demo tops the Bandwagon HM Soundhouse chart in Sounds. The band play their first gig at the Bandwagon.

May 1979: Neal Kay books the three biggest bands from the emerging scene: Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, and Samson, for a gig at the Music Machine. Angel Witch opens; Samson headlines. Geoff Barton covers the show for Sounds with a double-page spread titled ‘If You Want Blood (and flashbombs and dry ice and confetti) You’ve Got It’. The article’s subtitle, ‘The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal: first in an occasional series by Deaf Barton’, contains the first known use of the term “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal”.
Def Leppard release a self-financed EP on their own record label. BBC DJ John Peel gives the track ‘Getcha Rocks Off’ repeated airings, and the 7″ sells well enough for legit labels to take notice.

August 1979: Def Leppard’s gig at the Paris Theatre in London is recorded and Broadcast over BBC Radio.
The Tygers of Pan Tang release their own self-produced EP on Neat Records. It is the fledgling label’s third release, and its first Metal record. Important singles from White Spirit, Raven, Venom and Blitzkrieg would follow in the next few months. Neat emerges as the most important independent label of the NWOBHM era.

September 1979: The still un-signed Def Leppard open for Sammy Hagar at the Hammersmith Odeon.

October 1979: Def Leppard record an in-studio session for Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show. Def Lep also secure the opening slot on the UK leg of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ tour. Leppard are now widely regarded as the NWOBHM’s ‘next big thing’.
Iron Maiden appear on the cover of Sounds; the band begin negotiating with EMI days later.
Trespass release the self-produced single ‘One of These Days/Bloody Moon’; Praying Mantis Release their self-produced ‘Captured City/Johnny Cool’ single, and appear on Vance’s Friday Rock Show.

November 1979: Samson record an in-studio session for The Friday Rock Show.
Iron Maiden, still in the process of closing a deal with EMI, press three songs from their demo tape onto 7″ vinyl, and release ‘The Soundhouse Tapes’, named for Neal Kay’s Bandwagon. The EP is available via mail order only; the band sell through 5,000 copies in just a few weeks.
Def Leppard sign with Phonogram. The UK leg of the AC/DC tour ends in November, with four nights at the Hammersmith Odeon; Rick Allen celebrates his 16th birthday on stage at the Hammy O. Leppard release 2 demo recordings as their first single for Phonogram, ‘Wasted’/Hello America”. It peaks at #61.

December 1979: Iron Maiden record an in-studio session for The Friday Rock Show. They finalize and sign their EMI deal.
Sounds publish their annual year-end issue, which features a comprehensive round-up of NWOBHM bands.

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February 1980: Iron Maiden release their first single, ‘Runnin’ Free/Burning Ambition’. The sleeve art marks the first appearance of Eddie; the single peaks at #34.
Neal Kay assembles a compilation of bands he has championed called ‘Metal for Muthas’; the album is released through EMI and features 2 Iron Maiden songs. Angel Witch, Samson, Praying Mantis, and others also appear. Several notable NWOBHM bands (Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, Def Leppard) are not featured on the record, as all are already signed to or in the process of signing deals with other labels. A 3-week ‘Metal for Muthas’ tour follows, featuring Maiden, Diamondhead, Praying Mantis, and Raven.
Def Lep releases their second single, ‘Hello America’/Good Morning Freedom’. This one hits the Top 40 (#34).
Iron Maiden support Judas Priest on the UK leg of their ‘British Steel’ tour.

March 1980: Diamond Head releases their self-produced single ‘Shoot Out the Lights/Helpless’.
Angel Witch record an in-studio session for the Friday Rock Show.
Def Leppard release their debut album ‘On Through the Night’, on March 14, making Leppard the first NWOBHM band to release an album. The album debuts on the UK charts at #15.

April 1980: Iron Maiden release their self-titles debut album; it enters the UK charts at #4.

Heavy Metal was back with a vengeance. With two NWOBHM debuts in the UK Top 20, the inevitable major label feeding frenzy soon followed. Metal bands begin regularly appearing on BBC TV’s ‘Top of the Pops’. Sounds launched Kerrang!, a monthly magazine that covered only HM. The rising Metal tide lifted all boats, and stalwart bands like UFO, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, and all 3 Deep Purple offshoots were rewarded with revitalized careers and Top Twenty albums.

The magic lasted until around 1982, making the NWOBHM’s brief lifespan about as long as Punk’s. Metal had by then become mainstream in the UK, and several successful NWOBHM bands set their sights on the lucrative US market, where money changes everything. But that first year of the NWOBHM, from April of ’79 to April of ’80, when a new breed of Metalhead applied the DIY ethic and independent spirit of Punk rock to their own genre, was one of most important years in the history of the genre. It was the year that Heavy Metal was reborn.

See? Punk Rock was good for something after all.

Legacy of a Madman

Plenty has been written about Sharon Osbourne and what a detestable witch she is; here’s a few more sentences: Sharon Osbourne is the Devil. She is a corruptor of careers, poisoning every artist and all the art that she touches, manipulating and distorting their histories and legacies, and can only be described as Evil. This petty, vengeful shrew has made heroes into villains, stolen glory from the gifted, and turned her own husband into a clown. The amount of damage to the world of Hard Rock and Metal that this woman has done is epic, and in my eyes makes her the musical equivalent of Hitler or Stalin.

Thanks for letting me get that out of the way. Anyone who wants further detail about the exploits of the most hated woman in music since Yoko Ono should read Bob Daisley’s excellent book ‘For Fact’s Sake’, which focuses in incredible detail on the years he worked with the Osbournes. For now, I’m going to try to focus my lens on just one single bit of debris left in Sharon’s wake: Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Diary of a Madman’ LP. An amazing, important album, this record turned the tables on the Ozzy vs. Sabbath debate and set His Ozzness on a course to superstardom. But within this single album and its convoluted history lies enough evidence of her withering touch to condemn her for all eternity. Read on.

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After Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, he (or rather, his handlers) formed a band. Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Bob Daisley and Ozzy himself all felt that it was a true ‘band’, not a solo project, and they named the band ‘Blizzard of Ozz’. They agreed that having ‘Ozz’ in the band’s name was concession enough to their high-profile lead singer. Even their label, Jet Records, produced promo material using the band name ‘Blizzard of Ozz’. On the band’s debut album, however, the title and logos present the album title as ‘Blizzard of Ozz’, and the artist’s name as ‘Ozzy Osbourne’. (In some territories, the album was released without ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ on the cover at all.) Right out of the gate Ozzy was being represented as a solo act, thus diminishing the contributions of the other band members. For their follow-up album, ‘Diary of a Madman’, the name ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ is nowhere to be found.

Here’s were things get really ugly. Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley were both fired from Ozzy’s band (by Sharon, not by Ozzy) soon after the recording sessions for ‘Diary’ were completed. The pair had done the unthinkable: question management. Months later, DoaM was released, with an inner sleeve that included a picture of Ozzy’s new ‘band,’ and what one would assume are performance credits, including ‘Rudy Sarzo – Bass’ and ‘Tommy Aldridge – Drums’. The script above the band pic is written in the Theban alphabet, and reads, ‘The Ozzy Osbourne Band’. Back in pre-internet 1981, it took a while for the truth to leak into the rock press, but eventually it was revealed that DoaM was recorded by the same line-up of musicians that recorded ‘Blizzard of Ozz’. Bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake are credited in the sleeve notes as songwriters, but not listed anywhere as contributing musicians… Johnny Cook, who played all of the keyboards on the album, is also uncredited.

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(Side Note: Rudy Sarzo’s early career has always baffled me. He was in Quiet Riot with Randy Rhoads before DoaM, which explains how he got the Oz gig… But while his picture is on the cover of the second QR album, and he is credited in the notes with playing bass on the record, he didn’t. So the first two records Sarzo’s discography credit him as the bass player and feature his picture in the album art, but neither record features his actual bass playing. So the basis of this guy’s considerable reputation is his being credited with the bass tracks on two albums that he had nothing to do with? Awesome.)

And thus began the epic legal battles undertaken by Daisley and Kerslake. I won’t go into them all here; but I will mention that in 1986, Daisley & Kerslake settled one suit filed against Don Arden, owner of Jet Records, for unpaid royalties and proper accreditation for his work on DoaM. Oh, and did I mention that Don Arden is Sharon Arden’s father; Sharon Arden managed Ozzy’s band, and would become Sharon Osbourne in 1982. This twisted triangle set the stage for the dirty dealings detailed in Daisley’s book. So: if you’re Ozzy Osbourne, your wife is you manager, and your father in-law holds your recording contract. Your manager and your label are screwing your band, and you yourself are screwing your manager. What do you do? Nothing, because you’re Ozzy Osbourne, clueless idiot.

The years rolled on, and, despite their settlement with Arden, Daisley & Kerslake never saw any performance royalties from The Blizzard’s first two albums. Daisley continued to collaborate with Ozzy as a bassist, lyricist and songwriter through 1991’s ‘No More Tears’ album, although the unpaid royalties and performance credit issues resulting from his work on DoaM remained unresolved. The first two Blizzard records were re-mastered and re-released in 1995, almost a decade after their settlement with Arden. With new versions of these now-classic albums were hitting the stores, Daisley & Kerslake beleived that they would finally see themselves properly credited for their contributions to both albums… Nope. The credits on these new versions read “Drums – Tommy Aldridge” and “Bass – Rudy Sarzo”. Still no money; still no credit. Arden’s settlement had been a complete sham. The lie that had been perpetuated for a decade had been re-told to a new generation of rock fans.

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Refusing to give up the fight to be credited and paid for his work, Daisley responded with more legal action. The bassist eventually became such a fly in Sharon’s ointment that she famously had the Blizzard’s first 2 albums deleted, and in 2002, reissued them with Daisley and Kerslake’s performances erased and replaced with new tracks played by Rob Trujillo and Mike Bordin. Daisley and Kerslake would no longer be able to claim performance royalties on this new version of the album. This move might very well be viewed as the biggest ‘Fuck You’ in the history of rock music. The notes on the back of these CDs, unattributed to anyone specific, say that the new tracks give the albums ‘a fresh sound’… Bullshit. Both players copy every note played on the original records exactly. Great pains were taken to capture the same sounds as those on the original versions. Good job, guys.

(Side Note: Mike Bordin? Fine drummer. Rob Trujillo? Fine bassist. I do question, however, their professional ethics. I’m sure they made a pretty penny recording these tracks, but I’ve no doubt they were aware of exactly what they were contributing to: the bastardization of a classic album, and their aiding and abetting of Mrs. Ozz in the ultimate insult to a fellow musician. Shitty.)

Ozzy has said that he had nothing to do with this decision, that it was all Sharon; Sharon has said that it was solely Ozzy’s decision. Based on the Ozzy we watched on the TV show ‘The Osbournes’, the most challenging decision Ozzy was capable of making in 2002 was which cereal to eat for breakfast, so I’m thinking that the decision to replace those tracks was Sharon’s. Ultimately, after several years of sleepless nights, wracked by guilt, a deeply ashamed Sharon Osbourne finally had Daisley and Kerslake’s tracks restored to DoaM, just in time for the record’s 30th anniversary. We can be sure that her decision had nothing at all to do with the years of vociferous fan backlash, abysmal press and weak sales figures that resulted from her bogus 2002 version… Well, at least this version would be another chance to get the credits right and restore this classic album to its proper form and standing. Just Kidding!!!

The 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition of ‘Diary of a Madman’ includes no performance credits at all for the DoaM album which comprises Disc One, not even for Ozzy and Randy’s contributions. The 2nd disc, which features a live show from 1981, is properly accredited to Ozzy, Randy Rhoads, Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge. These credits are placed in the CD booklet after the info for Disc Two, creating the impression that these four musicians were responsible for the music on both discs. Intentional? You betcha. It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point to learn that none of the pictures used to illustrate the booklet feature Daisley or Kerslake; in fact, in some instances, their likenesses have been awkwardly photoshopped out of some pics that are probably familiar to many fans.

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The 30th Anniversary Boxed Set included both the ‘Blizzard’ and ‘Diary’ albums, and also came with a DVD called ‘Thirty Years After the Blizzard’. It purports to be a documentary on the making of the ‘Blizzard’ & ‘Diary’ albums, although, by avoiding any mention of Daisley and Kerslake, its presentation is skewed to say the least. It’s the Ozzy and Randy Show, and it paints a picture of two gifted musicians coming together and making magic. Ironic, because Ozzy himself has said that he had little input into these albums beyond contributing vocal melodies, as at the time of their recording, he was a complete mental and physical train wreck. While there is some classic RR footage to be found here, along with several touching moments featuring Ozzy reminiscing about working with Rhoads, leaving one half of the band/songwriters/performers (including the album’s primary lyricist) out of the picture does history a grave disservice.

‘Diary of a Madman’ has had 4 major releases on Compact Disc: 1987, 1995, 2002 & 2011. Only the bastardized 2002 version contains the proper performance accreditation. The casual fan would have no idea which version of this album they were buying from iTunes, because most mp3s don’t come with credits or liner notes attached. If you hear ‘I Don’t Know’ or Flying High Again’ on the radio today, do you know who you are listening to? DoaM has sold over three million copies since it’s release. Three million lies, told again and again, for over three decades. Don’t support Sharon Osbourne’s 30-year campaign of deceit. Find the vinyl version. The truth is out there.

The denial of credit to Daisley and Kerslake is nothing more than a game to this vicious, vengeful bitch, played for her own amusement at the expense of two excellent musicians and all fans of great music. And it’s a game she continues to play… The music world is currently watching this despicable cow destroying Black Sabbath from the inside out, by stabbing at its heart: drummer Bill Ward. There is ZERO doubt in my mind that this detestable hag is behind the curtain, pulling the strings to ensure that the original Sabbath will never play or record together ever again, because this time it was Ward who did the unthinkable: he asked to be fairly compensated for his contributions to one of the greatest bands of all time.