OZZY OSBOURNE – Prince Of Darkness

OZZY OSBOURNE - Prince Of Darkness


Release date: March 22, 2005

Originality: B
Ancillary Items: A
Overall Rating: B

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

John Michael Osbourne, who has affectionately become to be known as “Ozzy,” has the fairly unique entry on his expansive musical resume of fronting a mega-popular band from the ground roots up in Black Sabbath, only to earn and enjoy even a higher level of success as a solo artist/project. With more than a fistful of platinum albums to his credit, a wildly popular reality T.V. show, and a perennial summer tour in festival format attended by hundreds of thousands annually, one could easily surmise that Ozzy indeed has become THE most successful defector in the history of solo artists. In the end, his success and accolades are completely justified.

Ozzy indeed has talent … and more importantly, Ozzy has the keen ability to spot and land talent that both complements his abilities and helps drive his musical creativity forward. For example, would Blizzard Of Oz have had that same unique cutting edge and raw, yet innovative, musical style without Randy Rhoads? Would Ozzy’s career have rejuvenated itself so successfully after Rhoads’ tragic death with the release of Bark At The Moon without Jake E. Lee? Finally, and most recently now that Ozzy is in his swansong years, would his most recent studio concoctions have continued to turn as many heads without Zakk Wylde? The resounding answer to all 3 of these rhetorical questions is NOOOOOOO! Of course, though, the mark of a true leader and stalwart is the ability to surround oneself with the best partners in crime available … time and time again Ozzy has done just that with amazing success.

A handful of years elapsing since Ozzy has released a totally new studio album, 2005 is now graced by Ozzy releasing a 4-CD Box Set entitled Prince Of Darkness. Well, if someone’s keeping track of points with Big Guy upstairs, the title of this box set may sway the teeter-totter a tad against Ozzy’s favor … but, hey, rumor has it God occasionally cranks up an Ozzy album every now and then too! Anyway, box sets in general have evolved quite a bit over the years. When the concept was first rolled out, a band or artist releasing a box set usually meant their whole catalogue was being accumulated into one release that could be purchased in one fatal swoop, thus allowing “new” fans the opportunity to economically get a heap of music via one transaction … and allowing diehard fans the ability to own something that could be treated as a collector’s item. These days, and especially with this Ozzy box set, releasing a multi-CD compilation affords the band or artist the opportunity to package up all of the flotsam and jetsam that either never made it to a final studio album, or to do something completely out of character, if not out of the ordinary, in part or throughout much of the compilation.

In the case of the Prince Of Darkness set, Ozzy offers some pretty awesome standard classics in studio, live, and demo-quality format, plenty of cover tunes, and a number of one-offs and joint efforts with other out-of-genre (and species) bands and artists. In addition to the music, the set comes with an incredibly cool 60-page book filled with a plethora of new and old photos, song lyrics for all of the songs included here that have been released under the Ozzy Osbourne moniker, and a few written documents allegedly composed by Ozzy himself! To boot, there is a “coupon” included for a free Ozzfest 2005 ticket when you purchase an Ozzfest 2005 ticket at regular price on-line!

Well … onto the analysis of each CD:


The 1st CD in the box set is a nice cross section of the “hits” off of Ozzy’s first 3 albums. There are 5 tracks from Blizzard Of Oz and 4 each from Diary Of A Madman and Bark At The Moon. The parallels to Ozzy’s recently released Essential compilation are definite, with the exception being that this box set includes “Spiders,” whereas Essential does not. All are studio recordings except for “I Don’t Know,” “Goodbye To Romance,” “Suicide Solution,” “Flying High Again,” and “Bark At The Moon,” which are live versions. Overall, the song selection is proven and true … these 13 tracks established Ozzy as one of the most powerful Metal forces to be reckoned with, and this CD is indeed a suitable “greatest hits” compilation off of those 3 albums.


The 2nd CD delves into more “unconventional” material. Generally, similar to the above, CD 2 serves as a “greatest hits” compilation, although this time for the remainder of Ozzy’s studio albums, starting with the Ultimate Sin release. There are 16 total tracks on this CD: 5 live versions, 4 studio versions, 6 Demo versions, and the never-before released “Bang Bang (You’re Dead).” The Demo tracks (“I Don’t Want To Change The World,” “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” “Desire,” “Won’t Be Coming Home {S.I.N.},” “See You On The Other Side,” and “Walk On Water”) are all particularly interesting. Not all of them are stellar due to the rough edges present, but they definitely provide a comparison/contrast to what you may remember in the polished studio cuts. Compared to Essential, there are quite a few differences pertaining to what has and has not been included, and this differentiation makes for a nice collection to complement prior “greatest hits” releases with respect to Ozzy’s later day albums.


The 3rd CD is made up predominately of a few Sabbath classics, oddities, and cover songs recorded for various movie soundtracks, T.V. shows, and other band albums (and so forth) with multiple other artists and … uh … animals – in the case of “Born To Be Wild” with The Muppets’ Miss Piggy. A couple of these songs, especially the Sabbath classics, indeed come through with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm. For example, Ozzy pairing up with Primus for “N.I.B.” and with Therapy? for “Iron Man” works so well it’s scary. Also, “Psycho Man” from 1998’s Black Sabbath Reunion is more than a welcomed addition to this CD, as is Ozzy’s pair up with Infectious Grooves for the song “Therapy.” Other tracks are actually a bit embarrassing, though, such as Ozzy entering the Disco arena with “Shake Your Head (Let’s Go To Bed)” and “Stayin’ Alive,” the aforementioned serenade to Miss Piggy, and the rap songs “Nowhere To Run (Vapor Trail)” and “For Heaven’s Sake 2000,” but you’ve got to commend the man for having the balls to put them on this compilation. The classic duet with Lemmy Kilmister, “I Ain’t No Nice Guy,” is, of course, an outstanding song, but Ozzy’s covers of “Purple Haze” and “Pictures of Matchstick Men” come through a bit bland and uninspired (see more cover commentary in the Disc 4 section below). All in all, this 3rd CD is indeed a “collector’s treasure,” truly intended for those hard core Ozzy fans that simply “need” to have a hard copy recording of everything Ozzy has ever put out or been a part of at one time.


The final CD contains 8 new studio-produced covered songs of some of Ozzy’s favorites, and 2 covers that have been released at some other time – John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” and the Black Sabbath classic, “Changes,” with Ozzy and his daughter Kelly singing lead. As one might NOT expect, the chosen 8 new cover songs are Classic Rock songs of the mainstream variety, and Ozzy generally keeps his renditions pretty close to the originals, instead of embellishing a true trademark Ozzy flavor or adding notable twists to these recognizable tracks. “21st Century Schizoid Man” sounds very much like it was indeed recorded in the 20th century, “Mississippi Queen” has that signature thick guitar sound found in the original version, The Beatles’ “In My Life” stays mellow, and so on. Musically, the most improvised rendition is rendered during The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” but even then Ozzy still sings the lead vocal lines pretty much true to original form. The other tracks on this 4th Under Covers CD include David Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” anthem, “Fire,” “For What It’s Worth,” John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” and “Good Times.” Jerry Cantrell (guitars), Chris Wyse (bass), and Mike Bordin (drums) provide the musical support for these tracks, along with a host of guest musicians and what sounds to be a few guest vocalists.

Diehard Ozzy fans may find some merit in these cover renditions – after all, 8 of these songs represent new material offered by The Prince Of Darkness himself – but in almost every circumstance, the songs come off a bit cumbersome and end up portraying Ozzy out of his element. Musically, other than in “Sympathy For The Devil,” there’s really nothing creative or innovative offered … the musicians are basically asked to play the role of offering support for Ozzy’s vocals … but unfortunately, Ozzy doesn’t seize the moment and opts to sing the vocal lines in a very vanilla manner, varying seldom from the original format laid out by the original composers. It’s not bad, but Ozzy is a high-energy Metal singer singing classic tunes on this CD that are supposed to “mean something” to him. When listening, you almost catch yourself trying to nudge Ozzy along to do something creative, unconventional, or “Ozzy-like” at some point within many of the songs – something to show us how he interprets these classics and the emotions that they conjure up within his being … but, regrettably, he almost never steps out of the box. The result is a very uninspired-sounding collection of cover tunes that probably would have been better left alone.

Overall, this box set conjures up mixed feelings … certainly rabid Ozzy fans should own this, but unless you’re into hearing awkward cover tunes and one-offs from this Metal icon, you might just be better off to land The Essential Ozzy Osbourne release from 2003 if you’re simply interested in owning a “greatest hits” Ozzy compilation. The ancillary items, however … namely the extremely well done 60 – page book and the coupon for a free Ozzfest 2005 concert ticket, certainly buffer the somewhat hefty price tag of this box set, causing the “all-in” deal of Prince Of Darkness to indeed be well worth the money!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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