You have to give Ozzy Osbourne oodles of credit — he could have rode off into the sunset years ago, and would have still been considered a music icon (both as frontman of the legendary Black Sabbath and as a mega-successful solo singer). It would’ve been entirely understandable if he eased off his workload in recent years, especially after a series of health setbacks, including a recent major neck surgery and an ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease. Yet, while his health and the pandemic put his farewell tour on hold, he has been as prolific as ever in the studio, releasing Ordinary Man in 2020 and returning just two years later with his new album, Patient Number 9.
Following the same game plan as its predecessor, Patient Number 9 sees Ozzy working once more with producer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Andrew Watt. And like Ordinary Man, Ozzy and Watt have recruited an impressive A-list assortment of renowned rockers to contribute to the album. Included are guitar icons Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, plus longtime collaborator Zakk Wylde, along with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, and late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.
Despite entering this advanced stage of his career (the singer is 73 years old at the time of the album’s release), Ozzy’s vocals are surprisingly strong — particularly on the tunes “One of Those Days” and “A Thousand Shades.” It’s also refreshing to hear heartfelt, non-speed demon guitar solos from Clapton (the aforementioned “One of These Days”), Beck (“A Thousand Shades” and the title track), and McCready (“Immortal”). Even the guitarist that you’d expect to help fulfill the “shred quota” — Zakk Wylde — keeps it mostly restrained on such tunes as “Mr. Darkness” and “Nothing Feels Right” (although admittedly he does let his fingers fly on “Parasite”).
Still, the album’s top standouts would have to be the pair of selections that see Ozzy united once more with the supreme riff master, Tony Iommi: “Degradation Rules” (which contains some “The Wizard”-like harmonica work from Oz) and “No Escape from Now.” On each song, the pair recapture the magic they made for so many years with Black Sabbath.
From start to finish, Patient Number 9 is an inspired and consistent Ozzy studio offering. It certainly appears that team Ozzy has found a producer who gets the best out of the veteran singer and his all-star cast of backing musicians.
Essential Tracks: “Degradation Rules,” “Patient Number 9,” “One of Those Days,” “No Escape from Now”
Patient Number 9 Artwork:
Patient Number 9 Tracklist:
01. Patient Number 9 (feat. Jeff Beck)
02. Immortal (feat. Mike McCready)
03. Parasite (feat. Zakk Wylde)
04. Mr. Darkness (feat. Zakk Wylde)
05. One of Those Days (feat. Eric Clapton)
06. A Thousand Shades (feat. Jeff Beck)
07. No Escape From Now (feat. Tony Iommi)
08. Nothing Feels Right (feat. Zakk Wylde)
09. Evil Shuffle (feat. Zakk Wylde)
10. Degradation Rules (feat. Tony Iommi)
11. Dead and Gone
12. God Only Knows
13. Darkside Blues