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Ozzy Osbourne - Live at Budokan

On June 25, 2002, Ozzy Osbourne released "Live at Budokan" album.

The album was recorded during Ozzy Osbourne's performance at the legendary "Nippon" Budokan Hall on February 15, 2002, during his "Down to Earth" Tour, this album showcases Ozzy and his formidable band—longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde, bassist Robert Trujillo (soon to join "Metallica"), drummer Mike Bordin ("Faith No More"), and keyboardist John Sinclair. However, despite its high-energy performance, the crazy Japanese crowd and solid production, "Live at Budokan" feels like an unnecessary addition to Ozzy’s discography.

The album kicks off with "I Don’t Know", a classic from his debut album "Blizzard Of Ozz" that immediately sets the stage for the live Ozzy experience. Although Zakk Wylde’s is out of this world he is not always sticking to Randy Rhoads’ original composition, which sometimes feels like an overkill.

The setlist continues with "That I Never Had" from "Down to Earth" failing to leave a lasting impression with Ozzy's voice sounding a bit strained and out of tune, while Zakk’s backing is more solid. "Believer" on the other hand, stands out as a highlight, with Wylde capturing the essence of Randy Rhoads’ original style, making it one of the better tracks on the album.

The setlist continues as a mix of old and new songs with another track from "Down to Earth" - "Junkie. Zakks playing is as amazing as the studio album's version, but Robert Trujillo's bass playing is pure perfection. Then comes "Mr. Crowley" letting John Sinclair to step into the spotlight with the classic intro.

The album includes four tracks from the "No More Tears" album, with the title track and "Road to Nowhere" faring particularly well. "Mama I’m Coming Home" and "I Don’t Want to Change the World" receive enthusiastic responses from the crowd, though the latter remains a less exciting part of the setlist. "Crazy Train" and "Bark at the Moon" staples of Ozzy’s live shows, don’t sound quite right with the down-tuned arrangements, and their energy seems diminished as a result, despite Mike Bordin’s drumming that usually brings a fresh, energetic style.

The album ends up with a "Black Sabbath" classic "Paranoid" which in our opinion got a weak version. Zakk, again, is trying to push the boundaries of this classic track with too much improvisations, in our opinion. More than that, the double-tracked Ozzy vocals sound very artificial.

The Japanese crowd at Budokan adds an interesting dynamic to the recording. Known for their respect and attentiveness, they provide a loud and enthusiastic backdrop not seen in a typical Western concert. Production-wise, the album is decent, and the rhythm section of Mike Bordin and Robert Trujillo positively impacts the sound. Trujillo's bass is prominent in the mix, and Bordin’s drumming is consistently engaging. Despite this, Wylde's guitar work, characterized by excessive pinch harmonics and flashy solos, sometimes overshadows the rest of the band.

It is interesting to note that a DVD of the concert was also released along with the album, including the song "Suicide Solution" and Zakk Wylde's guitar solo, which spanned over 13 minutes. These sections were cut from the CD version due to time limitations. For those interested, you can watch the full performance here:

Despite its moments, "Live at Budokan" feels like an unessential of Ozzy’s live releases. The setlist, lacks the depth and variety that might have made this recording stand out, with the absence of tracks from albums like "The Ultimate Sin", "No Rest for the Wicked" and "Ozzmosis". Except of the addition of the unique Japanese crowd and the "Superstars" lineup, this album fails to overshadow live albums like "Tribute" and "Live & Loud".

For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music

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