Speak of the Devil
8 of 10
My first real taste of Ozzy Osbourne was Speak of the Devil. Someone had given me a cassette tape of it and I wore that shit out in no time at all. I then picked up Diary of a Madman, and the rest is Ozzy history.
I don’t think I’ve listened to Speak of the Devil for many years now. In fact I don’t think it is one of the albums that made the transition from tape to CD in the late 80’s. So it is not a part of my collection anymore. What I do remember of it was that it was a great set list and made me want to go see Ozzy in concert. I mean, isn’t that was a live album is supposed to do?
I wish I had that old cassette today. Because as soon as I put the DVD in, two things struck me as very odd. The first is that Ozzy comes out to the Diary of a Madman music, but it isn’t in the set list, second and most important is that the whole album has been over dubbed! I don’t remember Ozzy’s vocal’s being that far out front and that clean and full on the cassette. I know the footage has been ‘remastered’ but his vocals are so canned it is ridiculous. And the difference between his singing and speaking on the mic makes it all the more obvious. Add to that the music seems much more clean too. Not a note is missed, not a sound out of place. The only improv I see from Brad Gillis is the opening of Crazy Train, the rest of the song is note for note straight. And the bass line by Rudy Sarzo is wrong. You can hear the bass line clear as day as the original recording, but watch Rudy play something completely different than what is supposedly coming out of the PA. Brad‘s solo on Suicide Solution is obviously his, but the guitar tone is different than the rest of the song, so you know it was all dubbed.
All this bashing must make it seem like I hate the video. The weird part is that I don’t. I’m not sure if it is because I haven’t heard the material in 25 years, if it is because I always wanted to see Speak of the Devil on video, or if I just remember blasting the hell out of the tape back in 1983 and the memories it brings back of that time for me over powers the obvious ridiculous overdubbing.
I mean this is nothing new to us Ozzy and Company (read Sharon) have been removing people’s bass lines and redoing them for years. So why should this surprise us that Speak of the Devil is as much of a live show as KISS Alive I and II?????
Once you get past the fact that you are watching a live video and listening to what essentially amounts to a studio CD, you can begin to enjoy the video for what it is. And this is why I gave it an 8 out of 10. All of the Ozzy antics are here. Everything that we’ve come to know and expect from an Ozzy show, the antics that are now clichéd for him are shown back when they were original and fresh. And damnit if watching Speak of the Devil doesn’t make me wish I could see Ozzy again like he was 30 years ago.
The video itself looks great! The camera work is obviously pre-MTV so it isn’t all herky jerky and it moves from Ozzy, to Brad Gillis, to Rudy, to Tommy Aldridge, to Don Airey and focuses on each member long enough for you to actually see what you are looking at. A lot of today’s concert films are shot so frenetically that you never get to settle in on the guitarist or drummer and just watch them rock the fuck out.
If you can get past the audio/video discrepancy then you too can enjoy a classic ‘live’ Ozzy concert. I know I’ve waited 30 years to see the footage, and I was happy with the outcome so you should be too.
I still don’t know why Diary of a Madman wasn’t included… (Oh, and the dwarf bringing Ozzy out his drinks is just awesome!)