ALBUM REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9

At seventy-three years old, Ozzy Osbourne has virtually nothing left to accomplish and even less to prove. TV personality, singer/songwriter, occasional actor and co-founder of an entire genre of music, if there’s anyone in the world of hard rock and metal who deserves to put their feet up with a pair of comfy slippers and a hot cup of cocoa then it’s the lovable Brummie seemingly incapable of using a television remote control.

A life filled with debauchery, Ozzy’s contributions to music have often been overshadowed by his more colourful exploits. A danger to wildlife everywhere, chickens, bats and doves still cower in fear at the very mention of his name. He desecrated national monuments, introduced a vicar to hash cake, urinated on police cars, wore his wife’s dresses and, spontaneously stripped naked on more than one occasion and even fought off a burglar while in the buff.


Thankfully, over time his musical legacy appears to have finally been embraced by his home town as for the last few years there has been a noticeable increase of positive Ozzy and Black Sabbath related coverage. From being the first inductee into the Birmingham Walk of Stars in 2007 (guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler would follow), the recent museum exhibition and unveiling of the Black Sabbath bench in 2019, to even letting Ozzy and Iommi close the recent Commonwealth Games with ‘Paranoid’. It’s official. Ozzy is now a fully fledged hero of the city.


Still, even with such a colourful life and many, er… interesting adventures, it’s Ozzy’s love of writing music which stands above all. Although obviously not as prolific as he used to be, the records still keep coming, even if the hits are less frequent. No stranger to hiring the occasional guest star, thirteenth solo album Patient Number 9 (Epic Records) features contributions by a veritable cornucopia (pun absolutely intended) of musical luminaries including Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Robert Trujillo of Metallica, Duff McKagan of Guns N’Roses, Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney, Red Hot Chili Peppers sticksman Chad Smith, and the recently departed drum legend that was Taylor Hawkins.


And there’s more.

Beginning with cries of “I want to go home!”, the title track finds Ozzy in mischievously unhinged form, aided and abetted by the one and only Jeff Beck. Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready guests on the upbeat ‘Immortal’ while long time friend and accomplice Zakk Wylde makes the first of a number of appearances on the stomping ‘Parasite’. From a perfectly timed change of pace to a classic “oh yeah!”, six and a half minute ‘No Escape From Now’ recalls Sabbath at their mightiest. Although that’s not entirely surprising, seeing as Tony Iommi is the man behind the riffs on this one.


Old Slowhand, himself, Eric Clapton delivers the blues rock on ‘One of Those Days’ while Jeff Beck and some subtle but effective background orchestration give ballad ‘A Thousand Shades’ a distinct seventies vibe. The first of three songs in a row to feature Zakk Wylde, ‘Mr Darkness’ boasts a mighty closing section that smells just like vintage Ozzy. The latest single ‘Nothing Feels Right’ is a dark power ballad equipped with a suitably killer hook, and ‘Evil Shuffle’ shares some rather noticeable similarities to ‘War Pigs’.


With its pornography and masturbation-themed lyrics, harmonica bursts, and dirty back alley riffs courtesy of Iommi, the old-school onanism of ‘Degradation Rules’ appears to be the result of an exceptionally messy bukkake party involving ‘The Wizard’, ‘Dirty Women’, ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and ‘No Bone Movies’. Meanwhile, ‘Dead and Gone’ and ‘God Only Knows’ (featuring Dave Navarro) slow things down in their own way before the deliberately under-produced, sub-two minute harmonica blues of closer ‘Darkside Blues’ brings the curtain down perfectly.


Genuinely one of the strongest albums Ozzy has released in years, Patient Number 9 might be weighted somewhat more towards the slower, power ballad side of things but when it gets going, it rocks like a motherfucker. The vocals are strong and vibrant, and if that’s due in part to studio tinkering then who cares?


Ozzy earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants a long time ago, and most importantly, it sounds fucking great.


Buy the album here:

8 / 10





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