It is hard to believe this is the 10th “My First Time” selection. That means there only two more to go in the series before I call it quits. My intention was one a month for a full year. For the 10th selection, I have chosen the album that was ‘My First Time’ with Ozzy Osbourne. That album was ‘The Ultimate Sin’. It took up to his fourth solo release before I actually bought anything Ozzy Osbourne.
The album came out on February 22, 1986 and at the time was Ozzy’s most successful album. It would go on to sell over 2 million copies and cemented me as a fan. I had never been into Ozzy’s music prior (with the exception of “Crazy Train”), but there was something about this album I liked. It felt more accessible to me. The tunes were more melodic and not as hard as I imagined an Ozzy album to be. It helped that the first single “Shot in the Dark” received massive airplay on MTV.
Ozzy is always known for having outstanding musicians on an album and this one was no different. The guitarist at the time was none other than Jake E. Lee. This would end up being his last album with Ozzy. He would do some solo stuff and founded Badlands, but he would then disappear for years until his recent return with Red Dragon Cartel. Most of the music on the album was written by Jake, but since he had been screwed out of writing credits on previous albums, he wouldn’t contribute anything else until he was assured credit. Once a contract was in place, BOOM, we have a new Ozzy album.
The bass player for the band was Phil Soussan and this was his first appearance on an album for Ozzy. Phil actually co-wrote “Shot in the Dark” with Ozzy.
Phil replaced longtime bassist Bob Daisley who is also the main contributor on lyrics for Ozzy although for this album he was not credited as a songwriter on the original release. My copy does not show his name. He has since been credited as a songwriter on future releases.
The drummer for the band was Randy Castillo and like Phil, this was his first album of many for Ozzy. Randy had played previously with Lita Ford and would go on to play with Motley Crue when they briefly replaced Tommy Lee for the album ‘New Tattoo. He had quite a line-up and it shows in the music.
Despite all the success that this album had for Ozzy, he hated this album (I believe it was Mike Ladano who told me that bit of news which I did not know about). I believe him as the album was removed from Ozzy’s catalog and not reissued or remastered with all his albums back in 2002. Every store I go into, you can’t find it on CD or vinyl. I got lucky when I was in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and came across a used copy and grabbed it.
Okay, let’s get to the songs.
The album kicks off with the title track and second single, “The Ultimate Sin”. The evil sounding guitar riff from Jake kicks everything off with a bang. Being raised Catholic, I didn’t know if I was going to need to go to confess after listening to this…thankfully that was not the case. Around 1986, I was really digging the guitar and thought Jake could kill it. It is a heavy, dark song but melodic and catchy enough for someone that didn’t like it too heavy at the time. That has since changed.
The next track, “Secret Loser” came pounding in with a faster tempo. It wasn’t an overly heavy song and a little more in style with the hair bands of the time. For me, the standout of the song is another guitar solo by Jake. He is just showing off now.
There is no real difference between “Secret Loser” and “Never Know Why” and the last song on Side One “Never” as far as song style. “Never Know Why” tried to be a little more rock anthem and maybe a little more guitar. “Never” might be the hardest of these three. All catchy, good songs but nothing overly special which I am fine with as I still find them enjoyable and kept the album on repeat a lot back in the day. I didn’t look at them as filler, but they weren’t killer either.
Then comes “Thank God For the Bomb” which really grabbed me. I really loved the eerie “Nuke Ya, Nuke Ya” part during the song. We are in 1986 and right at the end of the Cold War with Russia and the Nuclear Arms Race, but the song was still relevant. The song was praising the Nuclear Bomb as it was the only thing keeping the peace at the time. The song is a contradiction to another song we will discuss later, “Killer of Giants”.
Side Two kicks off with “Lightning Strikes” and another screeching guitar riff. Ozzy sounds great and I can understand everything he is saying. Same formula as everything else, but I like this one a little more. It is a good uptempo song with another killer solo and I do love the guitar riff he has for this one. The songs on this side are a lot longer and only four total. The first three each run over 5 minutes, but they are worth every second.
My favorite song on the album (and probably my favorite Ozzy song) is the song “Killer of Giants”. The song is a lot darker than the others on the album. It talks about the leaders of the world raging wars and the threat of the nuclear bomb going off and destroying everything. The opening instrumental sets the mood and goes on for awhile. Ozzy comes in with a sadness in his vocals that helps paint the picture of the lyrics. The song is a complete contradiction, as I mentioned above, to “Thank God for the Bomb” that talks about how great the bomb is because it is keeping the peace. Now I am not sure if he is For or Against the Nuclear Bomb.
“Fool Like You” comes in balls to the wall with the guitar and pounding drums. It is pure hard rock and actually what I would expect from Ozzy…Loud and Bombastic. Definitely what you need after the somber “Killer of Giants”.
The last song on the album is the first single “Shot in the Dark”. It is definitely one of Ozzy’s most radio friendly song and one of his most successful songs he has done. Hell, it is why I bought this album, but it is not why I keep coming back. The song is pure hair band style that was big in the day. He definitely jumped on the bandwagon like so many before him. The song is credited to the new bassists Phil Soussan and Ozzy, but there is contention over that fact. From wikipedia, it is believed that the song was originally written by Steve and Chris Overland from Phil’s early band Wildlife. Nothing has ever come of it, but I am noticing a trend with Ozzy and giving people credit for songs that they may or may not have written.
There you have my breakdown of the album. Is it Ozzy’s best…doubtful, but it is one of my favorites. I think I even enjoyed it more in revisiting it after all these years than I did back then. For me, it is timeless despite the 80’s war themes in some of the songs. It was from this point I went back and explored his early releases and even helped me get into Black Sabbath which I hadn’t really been prior. The 80’s were a new awakening for me and music and where I started caring about what bands and artists had done prior to the current album. I wanted to dig deeper.
I hope you enjoyed “My First Time” and until next month.