Tribute albums are usually good for a little fun, maybe even surprising you with a couple of bands you wouldn't expect to be covering a classic song by a classic band/artist. In my case, I typically check out the album, appreciate it for the handful of cool covers, and never again take it off the shelf. I would imagine that will be the case with "Flying High Again: The World's Greatest Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne", even though on this one I did find myself enjoying it more than most tribute albums I've heard.
Covering songs (including previously released ones) from "Blizzard of Ozz" (five), "Diary of a Madman" (two), "Bark at the Moon" (one) "The Ultimate Sin" (one), "No More Tears" (two), and the Ozzy-Lita Ford duet "Close My Eyes Forever", the album includes a wide variety of musicians from yesterday and today. Most stick closely to the original, the versions of "S.A.T.O" (ICARUS WITCH w/ George Lynch), "Bark at the Moon" (FOREVER SAY DIE), "Over the Mountain" (Mark Slaughter, Brad Gillis), and "I Don't Know" (Jack Blades, Reb Beach) mostly by the numbers, but enjoyable nonetheless. While the version of "Mr. Crowley", featuring Yngwie Malmsteen, Tim "Ripper" Owens, and Derek Sherinian, sticks closely to the original arrangement, the trio of heavyweights make the song their own. The same goes for the covers of "Hellraiser" (Joe Lynn Turner, Steve Lukather). The guitar work of Doug Aldrich on "Crazy Train" is warm and inviting, but Dee Snider's vocals vacillate between uniquely charming and ill fitting. Tony Levin's bass work does add a unique touch though (Jason Bonham handles drum duties). Lemmy Kilmister's (MOTÖRHEAD) convincing vocal performance and Ritchie Kotzen's warm and sleazy licks make "Hellraiser" a keeper (of course, Lemmy has a co-writing credit on the original).
The remaining songs fall into two categories: (1) forgettable and (2) excellent. I typically enjoy a CHILDREN OF BODOM cover song, but the version of "Shot in the Dark" is middling at best. Granted, it is an extreme metal version of a very melodic rock tune, but it comes off a little too awkward. I wouldn't call it a stinker; it's just kind of "there." LITA FORD'S live solo rendition of "Close My Eyes Forever" is a waste of space. The tepid original never rang my bell in the first place. I would have rather heard something from "No Rest for the Wicked" (perhaps the most underrated album in the Ozzy catalogue and a personal favorite).
The versions of "Revelation (Mother Earth)" by NOVEMBERS DOOM and "Goodbye to Romance" by the ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO are far and away the album highlights. The alternating growl and TYPE O NEGATIVE-style spoken parts, as well as the dark and beautiful acoustic playing (that shifts dramatically to the electric parts) prove "Revelation (Mother Earth)" to be a perfect fit for the Chicago act's doom treatment. The ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO's instrumental jazz version of "Goodbye to Romance" is exceedingly well done and makes me want to finally get off my ass and check out the band's original work.
Critical ramblings aside (and with the exception of "Close My Eyes Forever"), "Flying High Again" is a pretty good listen from start to finish, even if it may gather a few inches of dust before I check it out again. If we're looking at only tribute albums, this one is an easy 8. Considering it in the context of all the albums of original material out there, a rating of 6.5 is probably about right.