OZZY OSBOURNE recently spoke to Metal Edge magazine about his upcoming four-disc box set, "Prince of Darkness". An excerpt from the interview follows:
Metal Edge: The box set is obviously a career retrospective, but how long has the cover album been in the making?
Ozzy Osbourne: "Over the years, I've always wanted to do an album of other people's stuff, like some [John] Lennon. I've always wanted to do 'Whiter Shade of Pale', but I didn't do it, because everybody who does a cover album, the first track is always 'Whiter Shade of Pale'. I've had a long list, and Sharon comes up to me on the Ozzfest last year and tells me that Sony's putting together a box set of rarities and live recordings — stuff with Dweezil Zappa, the BEE GEES, WAS NOT WAS, 'Born to be Wild' with Miss Piggy, stuff like that — and she says, 'Why don't you do an album of cover songs?' I didn't know what it was going to sound like, but it's something different instead of another version of 'I Don't Know' done underwater in fuckin' Paris in '78! I must be the only artist with six or seven solo records, and eighty fuckin' spin-offs of the best of, in different running orders, in Chinese, whatever."
Metal Edge: "The Ozzman Cometh" and he cometh again and again and again…
Ozzy Osbourne: "And when is he going to stop comething? [Laughs] We promise you this is the last cometh! It hasn't been me, though. So I built a studio in the back of the house and I said to Sharon, 'Let me just have a go at doing the covers. If it turns into a pile of shit, nothing ventured, nothing gained.' A friend of mine, Mark Hudson, who I've known for many years and wrote some of 'Ozzmosis' with, produced it. We originally did like eight or ten songs, and they said, 'Fuckin' A, this is great, keep on going!' So we're going to do an album on the box set, then another album called 'Ozzy Undercover' or something. So there's 14 or 15 for that album, and eight or 10 for the box set. I've got to confess, it's come out a lot better than I ever expected it to. It's got balls. It's got meat."
Metal Edge: Who played on them with you?
Ozzy Osbourne: "Mark Hudson, Leslie West did 'Mississippi Queen', Jerry Cantrell, Ian Hunter did 'All the Young Dudes', and a bunch of musicians and arrangers. I was doing it on the road. We had portable ProTools and a 32-track. This album has been all over the world! I was doing it down in Florida, on tour, where they were nailing up the fucking hotel because of Hurricane Charlie, and I'm singing with a big gold bowl of Red Bulls to keep me going. It was one of those albums that started, and it just got better as we went along. If it was up to me, I'd have kept going. I wasn't going to sing 'Good Times' by THE ANIMALS — [singing] 'I remember all the good times' — but Sharon thought it kind of summed up my life, so I did it for her. I did JEFF BECK's 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'. I thought, if it's good enough for JEFF BECK, it's good enough for me,' but once I started doing it, I thought, 'Who the fuck wrote these lyrics?' [Laughing] 'Flies are in your pea soup, baby, and they're looking at me.' That's really an earth-shattering lyric! I mean, when I started out, we used to talk to each other and go, 'Hey man, how you doing?' Then we went from 'man' to 'dude,' and I thought, 'Who the fuck thought of 'dude'?' And I thought it must have been DAVID BOWIE in 'All the Young Dudes', and I recorded that… But then when I recorded 'Mississippi Queen', there was a line that went, 'While the rest of those dudes…' And I'm going, 'I must have really been fucking stoned, because I'd never heard 'dude' before!' [Laughing] And I did 'Fire' by ARTHUR BROWN, 'Working Class Hero' on an acoustic guitar without a big production, just a few 'oohs' and 'aahs' in the background. I did 'Rocky Mountain Way' by JOE WALSH, which is fabulous, and 'Woman' by JOHN LENNON, which is fucking beautiful… it's so much fun, because the songs have already been established, and I just fuck with them and rearrange them. I've heard cover albums before where they fuck with the songs to the point where the only thing that sounds like 'Jingle Bells' is the fucking title! It wasn't like that, but they're still me. It was some of the easiest work I ever did. So that was that…"