Ozzy Osbourne’s second solo album, Diary of a Madman, is a classic rock record in every way – monster guitars, Ozzy’s eerie, wailing vocals, riffs so massive they slap you round the facce, and underpinning it all, pounding drum beats.
Released in 1982, the album has since been re-released twice, most recently in 2002 when the original bass and drum parts of Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake were re-recorded by Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin, part of the fall-out from a messy legal dispute between Daisley, Kerslake and Osbourne. Fans of the original loudly objected to the change, but those coming to the album for the first time will hear a band that sounds tight and on the money.
The songs on this album are in the classic rock mold, but they are lifted out of the ordinary by the legendary rock axe God, Randy Rhoads. Diary Of A Madman was the last record he played on before his death while on tour with Osbourne, and his huge guitar sound is all over the record with power riffs and extended guitar solos crammed in at every opportunity.
Bonus live track I Don’t Know perfectly showcases the live magnificence of Osbourne at his peak, with Rhoads giving a virtuoso performance. It makes you understand how the self-proclaimed 'Prince of Darkness' has kept his devoted fans over the past 30 years.
Title track, "Diary Of A Madman", combines strings with a minor key riff, creating a memorable slice of rock that is over-the-top in all the right ways, but other tracks such as "SATO" and "Little Dolls" are filler.
Rock ballad "Tonight" provides a welcome change and "You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll" is a real stand-out track. "Flying High Again" has an almost-bluesy feel, and album-opener Over the Mountain sets the tone for the fast-paced, straight-forward rock on this album.
It might be a conventional rock record, but the thudderingly raucous guitars and the strangely ethereal and creepy vocals mean that it pushes all the right buttons. If you’re a fan of Osbourne, add this one to your collection. --Helen Groom
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