Article first published as Music DVD Review: Ozzy Osbourne – Speak of the Devil on Blogcritics.
This concert video, new from Eagle Rock Entertainment, should not be confused with Ozzy Osbourne’s live album of the same name. That live album, Speak of the Devil, consisted of a set of Black Sabbath covers recorded in September, 1982. What we have here is a 78 minute concert taped on June 12, 1982 at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, in Irvine Meadows, CA. This was a mere three months after the tragic death of guitarist Randy Rhoads, with Brad Gillis (of Night Ranger fame) stepping in to replace Rhoads’ original replacement, Bernie Torme.
The set list is almost entirely solo Ozzy material. Seven of the 14 tracks come from his 1980 solo debut, Blizzard of Ozz. Three more of them first appeared on the 1981 follow-up, Diary of a Madman. Only three tunes stretch back to his days with Sabbath. Those would be “Iron Man,” “Children of the Grave,” “Paranoid,” a trio that makes for a powerful finale. It needs to be pointed out, however, that some significant post-production work must have been done to this material. Osbourne’s vocals are very obviously mostly overdubbed. They are unnaturally prominent in the mix and far too perfect, considering the physical exertion he exhibits throughout the set. His between song patter is clearly original audio, but the singing is a product of studio recording.
That’s too bad, because it kind of throws into question whether the band members themselves are live or Memorex. I won’t speculate though, because whatever the case may be, these guys sound pretty fearsome. Relatively speaking, Gillis had very little time to master these guitar lines, but he cranks them out with ease and breathtaking fluidity. Don Airey, who has been playing with Deep Purple for the last decade, has some standout moments on keys. The rhythm section of Rudy Sarzo on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums thunders powerfully behind it all. During his featured spot, Aldridge amazes with one of his patented barehanded, no-drumstick solos. And, of course, Ozzy himself leads it all with great energy and spirit, constantly imploring the audience to get their hands up.
Eagle Rock gives us a bare bones presentation with Speak of the Devil, letting the show speak for itself. The concert (shot on standard definition video, leaving no real need for Blu-ray–though maybe lossless audio would’ve been nice) is framed at 1.33:1 and looks pretty good considering its age. DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 are offered, both providing suitably muscular, head-banging mixes. There are no extra features.
If the original vocal track was deemed unusable, it could’ve at least been better lip-synced. But even so, Ozzy Osbourne fans should still be happy with the availability of this energetic, vintage performance.