Today in metal: Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘The Ultimate Sin’ turns 30

Posted by on February 22, 2016

ultimatesinToday in 1986, Ozzy Osbourne’s fourth album, The Ultimate Sin, was released. While many, including Ozzy, view it as one of his worst, we disagree. And even though it’s currently out of print physically, you can still listen to it online. It was, in many ways, a transitional album for Ozzy. With him having been checked into the Betty Ford Clinic for a while, guitarist Jake E. Lee and bassist Bob Daisley worked on material while he was away, presenting him with a lot of music upon his release. And in the time between Bark at the Moon and 1986, hair metal had gotten much more popular, so Ozzy adjusted by making this more mainstream than his first three solo albums.

Lee’s second album with Ozzy, he was said to have refused to contribute until he had a contract in front of him. This was because Osbourne had sole writing credit on all of Bark at the Moon, even though Lee and Daisley had written on the album. And Daisley left in the middle of recording the album, resulting in Phil Soussan being hired. In fact, it might have been Soussan being hired that led to the album being out of print. He co-wrote the top ten rock single “Shot in the Dark,” and while there’s been no official reason as to why the album hasn’t been re-released, arguments over royalties might have something to do with it.

Ozzy Osbourne – Shot in the Dark by Houser

“Shot in the Dark,” by the way, is easily the best song on the album. It’s one of the more commercial songs in his catalog, which may be why it was his first top ten hit. And the accompanying music video, in which a girl at an Ozzy concert transforms into the girl on the Boris Vallejo-illustrated album cover, is cheesy fun. Off the strength of the single, the album quickly went platinum, going double platinum eight years later.

There’s more on the album than just that single. The title track is a good way to start off the album, but “Killer of Giants” is a monster song. Starting off with an acoustic intro and building from there, it’s Jake E. Lee’s finest work on an Ozzy album. Other songs, like “Lightning Strikes” and “Never Know Why” are pretty solid, but if you had to pick three songs, definitely start with “Shot in the Dark,” “Killer of Giants” and the title track. It is a product of the time? Sure. Ozzy, who was chunky from rehab, tried to adjust to the hair metal craze, and looked like a fat bumblebee, and yes, the production, by Ron Nevison, leaves a lot to be desired. It was Ozzy’s last album with  Lee playing guitar, and Daisley returned on bass for The Ultimate Sin. But while it’s not looked at as one of the best albums in Ozzy’s catalog, it’s certainly far from his worst.

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