Saturday, January 26, 2019

"Shot in the Dark" by Ozzy Osbourne

Song#:  2660
Date:  03/22/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  68
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Osbourne first came into prominence as the lead vocalist of the influential British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. The band would make a series of critically hailed albums in the 70s that were also big sellers. Works such as 1970's Paranoid would later be included on many lists citing the best rock albums ever made. After seven albums with the band, Osbourne suddenly found himself ousted by the other members in 1979, mainly due to frictions within the band and Osbourne's substance abuse. Now out on his own, it was suggested that Osbourne start his own band and he proceeded to develop one called Blizzard of Ozz. An album was recorded and was to be credited to Blizzard of Ozz with Osbourne's name in smaller print underneath. Yet the record company decided to change that and listed Osbourne first in larger letters, thus making appear like an Ozzy Osbourne solo disc titled Blizzard of Ozz. With that alteration, Osbourne's solo career was launched. The LP was highly successful as were two studio follow-ups and a live album, all without any singles reaching the Pop chart. For his fourth album, The Ultimate Sin, a new producer, Ron Nevison (Heart), was brought in to help polish up Osbourne's tracks with the commercial sheen that other rock acts were having success with at the time. This first single showed off the new side of Ozzy and it was a solid fit for Rock radio where the track made it to #10. That action along with a popular MTV video helped the song become Ozzy's first to reach the Pop chart. While it wouldn't be a major hit, it did bring new fans on board which helped the album become Ozzy's first Top 10 solo LP (#6). Over time it would be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  If you believe what's written about this album online, then it seems that Ozzy was not a big fan of this song or of the album in general. He deemed it too pop-oriented and not in line with the style of music he normally did. Yet the album was highly successful as was the song, which he continued to play in his concerts for years after. Let's face it - either he, Sharon, and/or his label wanted a hit and this was the result. While it's a solid track, I do have to agree with Ozzy in that it didn't fit him well. He doesn't even sound very engaged in his performance. The guitar solo makes the song rock a bit more, but in general most any arena rock band could have done this song - and perhaps even done it a bit better. It was a stab at commercial rock that worked out well in regards to sales and airplay, but it wasn't really Ozzy's shining moment.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song's writing credits have been cause for contention over the years. Ozzy's bassist at the time, Phil Soussan, brought the song in to Osbourne. Soussan had written it a few years earlier for a previous band he was in called Wildlife. Apparently, Soussan wrote the music and then two of his Wildlife bandmates, Steve and Chris Overland, finished off the lyrics and arrangement. The tune was recorded, but it was never issued out. Soussan then introduced Osbourne to the song and the pair of them fashioned a new version of the tune and it was recorded for Ozzy's album. However, the only writing credits cited were for Soussan and Osbourne. The Overland's received no credit. The Overland's most likely could have brought a suit for royalties, but since their main contribution was lyrics which mostly got replaced, it probably wouldn't have gone far (and I don't see any online evidence that they filed a suit). However, Soussan did file a suit against Ozzy concerning royalties on the song. Although the story goes that Osbourne helped Soussan refashion the song, there is also a different story where in exchange for recording the song, Osbourne wanted new lyrics written, which Soussan did, and also wanted 50% of credit and royalties. It seems a deal was struck, but apparently Soussan didn't get what was due to him and he later filed suit. Oddly, years later in 2012, Steve Overland recorded the Wildlife version of the song with his rock band FM for their EP Only Foolin'. Guess there were no hard feelings there.


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