Under The Radar: Ozzy Osbourne: The Ultimate Sin (1986)
Ozzy Osbourne – vocals
Jake E. Lee – guitar
Phil Soussan – bass
Randy Castillo – drums
01. The Ultimate Sin 02. Secret Loser 03. Never Know Why 04. Thank God For The Bomb 05. Never 06. Lightning Strikes 07. Killer Of Giants 08. Fool Like You 09. Shot In The Dark
The Ultimate Sin is the fourth studio album by Ozzy Osbourne. The album was released on February 22nd 1986, and was produced by Ron Nevison( Led Zeppelin, Bad Company ,Kiss, Heart, Damn Yankees, Chicago).
The Ultimate Sin has always been a point of contention amongst fans. On the one side you have fans that think that Ozzy’s’ fourth album is a solid rock record with some great hooks and melodies. While others believe that Ozzy committed the “ultimate sin” by turning his back on his rock roots and releasing his most commercially accessible album of his career.
In my opinion The Ultimate Sin is a solid, albeit flawed record. But in all fairness, it was the record that Ozzy had to make. It took three years for Ozzy to release the follow-up to Bark At The Moon, and by 1986 the rock scene had definitely changed. Hard rock had reached its commercial zenith and had finally been accepted into the mainstream by radio and video stations. Rock had become more poppy with less bass more keyboards and the songs became much more palatable to the masses. Ozzy had to prove that he could not only adapt to the new musical landscape, but keep up with new boys (Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, Ratt, Dokken) who had taken over the rock scene.
At first listen The Ultimate Sin does come off as a sell out. As commercially accessible as this album is, it does explore a fair number of different and darker lyrical themes such as depression (Secret Loser), betrayal (The Ultimate Sin) and nuclear disarmament (Thank God For The Bomb, Killer Of Giants).That is the beauty of this record, it is accessible, but it stays clear from formulaic party, sex songs that had become the norm by the mid-eighties, making the Ultimate Sin a cut above its contemporaries and worthy of a second chance to be heard.
In my opinion what really hurt The Ultimate Sins ability to resonate with Ozzy’s fan base is the albums production. Ron Nevisons’ production technique during the 80’s had a cold, mechanical feel to it. Nevison really embraced the digital recording process which in my opinion took away the infinite detail, or natural sounds of the recordings.
Another overlooked aspect of The Ultimate Sin is the phenomenal guitar playing of Jake E Lee. Jake really shines on this record offering a refreshing blues-based playing style that has been sorely missed on Ozzy’s solo records. Take a listen to the acoustic/electric into to Killer Of Giants and see how Jake’s playing brought this record to a whole other level. Unfortunately, his peak work often gets discounted because Jake E Lee is the guitarist who played in Ozzy between the tenures of Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde.
The bottom line is that The Ultimate Sin is a solid melodic rock record, that has been overlooked for far too long. Yes, the production is a little too slick and glossy for Ozzy’s style of rock n’ roll, but the album still has a lot to offer. If you can past some of the poor production, The Ultimate Sin is an album that deserves to be in your record collection.