Review

OZZY OSBOURNE Bark At The Moon

Album · 1983 · Traditional heavy metal
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3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
The year 1982 was a terrible one to say the least with OZZY OSBOURNE losing one of the most gifted guitarists in the nascent years of heavy metal music in the form of Randy Rhoads who met an untimely passing in an airplane crash early in that year. After two hugely successful albums that launched OZZY’s solo career into the same league of his former band Black Sabbath, it seemed that it was all about to come crashing down. Forced to fulfill the impossible task of finding a guitarist to take the place of the unreachable heights of Randy Rhoads, OZZY finally settled on the young guitarist Jake E. Lee who had paid his dues in the bands Micky Ratt (who would later become the successful glam metal band Ratt) and Rough Cutt. After a short tour with Brad Gillis of Night Ranger as the guitarist performing Black Sabbath songs to fulfill his recording contract with Jet Records, OZZY wasted no time grieving over his huge loss and unleashed his third studio album BARK AT THE MOON as the year 1983 came to an end which found his debut on the Epic branch of the CBS label.

The death of Randy Rhoads also signaled the end of the first lineup of the OZZ’s early years. As well as Jake E. Lee jumping on board, Tommy Aldridge took over the drumming duties formerly occupied by Lee Kerslake and Don Airey (of Rainbow, Colosseum and Michael Schenker fame) joined as the first official keyboardist. The only member to cross the new frontier into the next chapter of OZZ was Bob Daisley on bass. It’s hard to fathom just how popular OZZY was during the early 80s and the fans responded with resounding enthusiasm supporting their favorite madman by adding yet another platinum album to his resume as it hit number 19 on the Billboard charts. Your experience of BARK AT THE MOON will depend on which side of the Atlantic you reside since there are two versions of the album with mostly the same tracks but different track orders. The US version contains the tracks “Slow Down” and “Centre Of Eternity” which arent’ on the UK version and likewise the “Spiders” and “Forever” tracks are only on the UK version. Remastered versions contain all the tracks but the US track order has become the standard. BTW, “Forever” and “Centre Of Eternity” are actually the same track with different titles.

Stylistically OZZY had hit upon a new sound with Rhoads joining his ranks and it sounds like all efforts were to replicate that successful formula at all costs on BARK AT THE MOON. While the neoclassical compositional constructs are apparent complete with the boogie rock flavored metal riffing as heard on the albums “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman,” it is clear that Jake E. Lee didn’t quite have the technical prowess of Rhoads, therefore his own idiosyncratic style of playing is the first thing that is noticeable on BARK AT THE MOON. Whereas Rhoads was a master of neoclassical constructs and tremolo picking, Lee on the other hand utilizes a more unique style of riff shuffling with more bluesy solos that utilize the art of guitar slides. While not as developed as Rhoads, Lee actually handles his guitar duties quite tastefully in the thankless job of filling the shoes of the one history’s greats. It was later revealed that Lee had a huge part in writing the album although he was pressured to give up such claims by Sharon Osbourne to sell out those rights so that OZZY could claim full songwriting credit. This was a major point of dissatisfaction of course which led Lee to hang around for only one more album.

Lyrically OZZY continues his shenanigans of lunatic in chief with errant juvenile rebellion in full form as heard on tracks like “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel,” madman imagery as heard on the title track and the attempt to once again try to pull off a lame ballad in the form of “So Tired,” one that would signify a major downward trend in OZZY’s popularity as this sort of track has always been a thorn in his side. Add to the controversy was the fact that a Canadian man murdered a woman and her kids after listening to this album and claimed that the album made him do it. All of this hit at the same time that similar charges were coming to roost regarding his song “Suicide Solution.” It’s hard to understand how these things panned out in the 80s when in the 21st century it all seems so tame in comparison to modern day standards, but the religious right in the US were on a major witchhunt with artists like OZZY OSBOURNE the poster child as public enemy #1.

Despite the tragic loss of Randy Rhoads, OZZY pulled out a fairly decent album and while not up to par with the ridiculously brilliant first two albums, isn’t as bad as many make it out to be. The compositions are the same catchy melodic traditional heavy metal that was going strong in the 80s by this point and the addition of the keyboards adds another element of melodic counterpoint. Jake E. Lee, while not quite up to god status, pulled off a rather heroic duty of not only anonymously contributing to the majority of the songwriting on the album but played beautifully delivered heavy riffing with his own unique guitar soloing that had those satisfying squeals. While tracks like “Slow Down” and “Waiting For Darkness” definitely have more of a pop rock feel than metal, the title track, “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel” and “Centre Of Eternity” aka “Forever” are all some of OZZY’s best tracks. Even the ballads aren’t as bad as many make them out to be. No, BARK AT THE MOON will never usurp the throne as the OZZ-man’s greatest moment but considering the dark chapter of his history that it emerged out of, i think it turned out fairly decent. And yeah, that “Spiders” track is just weird!
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