How Ozzy Osbourne Bounced Back With ‘Scream’
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On June 22, 2010, heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne capped what can only be described as an interesting decade of personal and creative endeavors with the release of his 11th studio album, Scream, which helped put the focus of the beloved singer’s career back where it should be — on music.
After all, for much of the ‘00s, Osbourne’s exploits had included a diverse and often confusing blend of reality TV (MTV’s The Osbournes), sporadic solo albums (2001’s Down to Earth, 2007’s Black Rain) and opportunistic stocking-stuffers (2005’s Prince of Darkness box and Under Cover CD), framed by increasingly infrequent touring with his namesake Ozzfest extravaganza.
All the while, Osbourne’s persistent reluctance to reunite with Black Sabbath for recording purposes, despite occasional, wildly acclaimed touring revivals, finally pushed fellow Sabs Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler to launch the competing Heaven and Hell with Ozzy’s longtime vocal nemesis, Ronnie James Dio (and drummer Vinnie Appice), culminating in 2009’s well received The Devil You Know album.
So it can’t be entirely coincidental that Osbourne finally found the motivation to start preparing another solo album (initially to be named Soul Sucka, until fans voiced their dislike of the title) later the same year. Nor that he proceeded to shake things up for the resulting Scream, which, though it brought back Black Rain producer Kevin Churko and bassist Rob ‘Blasko’ Nicholson, counted with key new arrivals in keyboard player Adam Wakeman (son of Yes legend Rick) and, for the first time in over 20 years, a guitarist other than Zakk Wylde in Greek-born Gus G.
These shake-ups contributed to perhaps the most daring modernization of Ozzy’s signature sound since, well, forever — as evidenced by the almost industrialized blend of guitars and keys revealed by Scream’s opening number, “Let It Die,” where Ozzy also shocked quite a few fans by essentially rapping his way through his melodies and lyrics. Somewhat less jarring to the system, the first single, “Let Me Hear You Scream,” transformed Ozzy’s favorite in-concert catchphrase into a neat little package, marked by an unusually gravely vocal delivery from the Ozzman and a high-budget music video. And then the plodding “Soul Sucker” set up the album’s semi-power-ballad entry in “Life Won’t Wait,” which thankfully transcended what at first seemed like a “Mama I’m Coming Home” rehash with rousing metallic bombast.
Next up, “Diggin’ Me Down” boasted a moody, classically-inspired introduction courtesy of Gus G., and an ensuing, bravura performance that really showcased the former Firewind and Dream Evil guitarist’s incredible talents. For its part, “Crucify” gave Wakeman a chance to show his chops ahead of less impressive, additional headbangers like “Fearless,” “I Want More” and the intriguingly named “Latimer’s Mercy,” which came interspersed with the surprising, Beatles-esque melodies of “Time” and short and sweet parting shot of “I Love You All.”
Upon release, Scream quickly climbed to No. 4 in the U.S., No. 12 in the U.K., and charted in dozens of other countries, backed by an aggressive promotional campaign including song placements in video games, movies and TV, most notably the highly rated police drama, CSI: NY. In tandem with the very successful Scream world tour, all this clearly proved that demand for Ozzy Osbourne, the solo artist, had hardly waned during his assorted dalliances into other pursuits.
Pursuits that would soon include that long awaited Black Sabbath reunion (sans drummer Bill Ward) for 2013’s 13 album and its ensuing tour; but who would bet against another Ozzy solo album in years to come?
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