After getting all over-excited by rock’s new breed this week it’s time to get all blurry eyed and remember an early 90s metal classic featuring the incomparable Ozzy Osbourne. In the post that pitches new versus old, latter day standard against modern day classic, we focus on the Black Country’s most feared crooner.

Now 2007: Black Rain (Epic) is, according to Ozzy Osbourne, the first album he’s ever recorded sober. To date it has clocked up an incredible 500,000-plus sales worldwide after debuting at number three on America’s Billboard charts. But is it really that good?

The answer is yes. Right from the off we recognise the trademark slick production, the Zakk Wylde riffage and the confidence of a partnership which has delivered many of the best metal records in the past two decades. These two are the odd couple of rock but when the sparks fly their relationship brings about some of the classiest tunes you’ll hear.

The first single off Black Rain, the evocative I Don’t Wanna Stop, was released via prior to the record’s full release and as a weapon of mass attraction it fired Osbourne back into the mainstream after six years without a new record. For all the Ozzfests and reality TV shows, the Prince Of Darkness needed to prove he could still wriet songs. This rabid beast of a record proves he can.

Top tracks include Black Rain, Lay Your World On Me and Here For You – any or all of which would sit comfortably on one of Ozzy’s late 80s/early 90s commercial successes. The main man may talk about this record moving into the domain of industrial and thrash metal but to us it’s just plain old heavy metal in the vein of what Ozzy always did best.

If you missed it you missed out.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Os-bourne Winner.

…And Then 1991: No More Tears (Epic) gave us a glimpse of Ozzy the arch marketeer as he bought into the hair metal revolution and released a record of the time without compromising on his classic rock roots.

Produced by Duane Baron and John Purdell, this is the album where Ozzy is successfuly rebranded and totally transformed into an MTV-friendly balladeer. The anthemic Mama I’m Comin’ Home catapulted the Prince Of Darkness into the multi-media big league and proved that even alleged Devil-worshippers have a softer side.

Randy Castillo’s drums are right on the button throughout but the epic title track allows every single member of Osbourne’s hired hands to demonstrate their worth. With writing credits galore from Motorhead’s Lemmy there was always going to be a hard enough edge to keep the metal fans happy but No More Tears is all about Osbourne reaching out to the record buying public at large.

It worked and to date this essential album has gone quadruple platinum. No wonder elements of a true work of rock art are obvious on 2007’s brilliant Black Rain – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

rushonrock rated: 9/10 No More Metal?