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Christmas gift ideas for your headbanger

Everyone loves music…but what do you get for the person who owns CDs, cassette tapes, vinyl records, and MP3s of all their favorite songs already? You could take a chance on new bands such as Greta Van Fleet or Red Dragon Cartel, but you run the risk of getting something that doesn’t quite tickle their ears. Music appreciation is, after all, highly subjective.

Fortunately, there are other ways to enjoy music besides listening to it. Weird, right? But thanks to companies like Funko and McFarlane, you can get collectible figurines of rock stars and band mascots. Here are a few helpful links.
Alice Cooper POP Funko
Funko POP

Ozzy Osbourne McFarlane
McFarlane Figures

Bif Bang Pow! KISS Unmasked

Iron Maiden Super 7 Figures
Various Other Figures and Statues

Playing Cards

Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe by Mick Wall (2015)

Black Sabbath Symptom of the Universe by Mick Wall

Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe
by Mick Wall
St. Martin’s Press, 2015
400 pages

The most legendary of all heavy metal bands, Black Sabbath has a long history with and without singer Ozzy Osbourne. Noted rock author and former publicist to the band Mick Wall gives fans a rundown of the band’s ups and downs in Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe, how they evolved from the Earth Blues Band to the pioneering heavy metal masters, and the revolving door of singers, bass players, and drummers. The book not only holds the original lineup as the most authentic, but gives due respect to the Ronnie James Dio era as well.

The first post-Dio era, featuring singers Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, and Tony Martin, was a dark time for Black Sabbath, and Wall does not hold back when addressing the dynamics of their relationships with the band. The return of Dio in the 1990s, and his subsequent departure when he refused to participate in Ozzy’s “No More Tours” farewell tour, paved the way for Martin to return to the group before the ultimate reunion with Osbourne.

Solo projects are not altogether ignored, though the focus is on Osbourne and Dio. From Randy Rhoads’ death to biting a dove’s head off to Osbourne’s relationship with Sharon, Ozzy is given more than his fair share of non-Sabbath ink in Symptom. Likewise, Wall delves into Dio’s solo recordings, though not quite as deeply.

The soap opera that is Black Sabbath makes for an interesting subject, as well as the ascension of Osbourne as a solo artist to heights that the band never imagined in the 1970s. Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and the various other members of the band are recognized for the parts they played in creating and perpetuating the heavy metal genre.

While Wall’s opinions of various albums and performers are not hidden, they help to make the players more real to the reader. As with most rock biographies, foul language is an issue here. That said, Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe is highly recommended for mature fans of classic rock and heavy metal.

Learn more about St. Martin’s Press.

Purchase Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe by Mick Wall.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Black Sabbath edition

Black Sabbath

A couple of weeks ago, I unveiled the tracklist of JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Ozzy Osbourne edition, and planned to follow up with the Black Sabbath edition fairly quickly. But then I realized that it had been so long since I listened to the non-Ozzy and non-Dio Sabbath albums, it would take me a while to sort through them and pick out my favorites. So I revisited the entire Black Sabbath catalog, including Ozzy’s and Dio’s years, and finally came up with what I believe is the Ultimate Mixtape for the classic heavy metal band.

A quick reminder about the rules of this project…

  • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song. Which means either “Iron Man” or “Paranoid” will be omitted. Yikes.
  • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the artist to promote said album.
  • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
  • Live albums are a waste of time. This is a general rule that applies to most, but when you need to find a way to sneak a classic song onto the list because the studio version didn’t make it, this is a good way to do that.

Alright, with those rules in mind, are you ready to do this?

Here’s something to listen to as you read through my list…

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Black Sabbath edition…
“Black Sabbath” (Black Sabbath, 1970)
“Iron Man” (Paranoid, 1970)
“Into The Void” (Master of Reality, 1971)
“Tomorrow’s Dream” (Black Sabbath, Vol.4, 1972)
“Sabbra Cadabra” (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, 1973)
“Megalomania” (Sabotage, 1975)
“All Moving Parts (Stand Still)” (Technical Ecstasy, 1976)
“Never Say Die” (Never Say Die!, 1978)
“Heaven And Hell” (Heaven and Hell, 1980)
“Voodoo” (Mob Rules, 1981)
“Zero The Hero” (Born Again, 1983)
“Turn To Stone” (Seventh Star, 1986)
“Hard Life To Love” (The Eternal Idol, 1987)
“Kill In The Spirit World” (Headless Cross, 1989)
“Valhalla” (Tyr, 1990)
“After All (The Dead)” (Dehumanizer, 1992)
“Virtual Death” (Cross Purposes, 1994)
“Rusty Angels” (Forbidden, 1995)
“Psycho Man” (Reunion, 1998)
“Paranoid” (Past Lives, 2002)
“Shadow Of The Wind” (The Dio Years, 2007)
“Zeitgeist” (13, 2013)

The bonus tracks for the Black Sabbath edition are a little all over the place. I used alternate versions of a couple of songs from movie soundtracks, but the rest are a mixed bag. There are a couple of former singers that did not have a long tenure with the band (White Tiger’s David Donato and Badlands’ Ray Gillen), there are a couple of former singers doing new versions of songs they had originally performed with Sabbath (Tony Martin, Ian Gillan), and there are the classic Black Sabbath members doing side projects (Bullring Brummies, Tony Iommi’s solo project, and a live Dio recording). Finally, I decided to include a song from Heaven and Hell’s The Devil You Know here instead of the main tracklist, even though I still personally consider that band Black Sabbath.

Bonus tracks:
Black Sabbath “The Mob Rules” (alternate version from Heavy Metal, 1981)
White Tiger “Stand And Deliver” (White Tiger, 1985)
Badlands “Dreams In The Dark” (Badlands, 1989)
Black Sabbath “Time Machine” (alternate version from Wayne’s World, 1992)
Tony Martin “Jerusalem” (Back Where I Belong, 1992)
Bullring Brummies featuring Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, Rob Halford, Scott Weinrich, Brian Tilse, and Jimmy Wood “The Wizard” (Nativity in Black, 1994)
Tony Iommi featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward, and Laurence Cottle “Who’s Fooling Who” (Iommi, 2000)
Primus featuring Ozzy Osbourne “N.I.B.” (Nativity in Black II, 2000)
Dio “Egypt (The Chains Are On)/Children Of The Sea” (Evil Or Divine, 2005)
Ian Gillan featuring Tony Iommi, Roger Glover, and Ian Paice “Trashed” (Gillan’s Inn, 2006)
Heaven And Hell “Eating The Cannibals” (The Devil You Know, 2009)

Is that enough Black Sabbath for you? Tell me what’s on your Ultimate Mixtape…what songs do you pick over my choices?

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Ozzy Osbourne edition

Ultimate Ozzy Osbourne

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a big fan of the 1980s hard rock scene. Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, and Poison were some of the biggest bands back then. When it comes to solo artists, there was none bigger than Ozzy Osbourne. He always picked great guitarists to play on his records: Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde. If anyone is deserving of the JT’s Ultimate Mixtape treatment, it is Ozzy Osbourne.

The rules are simple:

  • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
  • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the artist to promote said album.
  • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
  • Live albums are a waste of time. This is a general rule that applies to most, but Ozzy’s Tribute album is obviously exempt.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Ozzy Osbourne edition…

Ten very solid studio albums, three live albums, a compilation and a covers album are all represented on JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Ozzy Osbourne edition. But, as always, we’ve got to have some bonus tracks. It was hard to whittle this list down, and I didn’t even include any Black Sabbath material (that will come later…oooh, foreshadowing).

Bonus tracks:

Offbeat cover songs

Cover songs are a dime a dozen, and most of them can be thrown away pretty easily. Either they are so poorly performed, pale in comparison to the original, or are so faithful to the original to make them unnecessary. But when done well, cover songs can be thrilling. Think about Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.” Completely different arrangement and delivery, making it almost unrecognizable but still unforgettable.

A good recent example is this Krokus song from the new album, Dirty Dynamite. Listen to it carefully…do you recognize it at all?

So who did Krokus cover? Who was the original artist for this song?

That’s the Beatles, folks. They took that classic pop song and turned it into a sticky sweet 1980s ballad, complete with a crying guitar solo. I absolutely love Krokus’ version of this song.

How about Reggie Watts’ version of “Panama”…which is really nothing like the Van Halen song at all, but still pretty interesting.

Have you ever thought, “I wonder what ‘Stairway To Heaven’ would sound like if it had been performed by the Doors instead of Led Zeppelin?” Wonder no more, my friends…

Alex Skolnick, guitarist for metal band Testament, also has a jazz band that covers heavy metal songs. Check out “War Pigs” below:

If jazz isn’t your thing, how about flamenco guitar? Benjamin Woods did an album called Flametal of cover songs, like Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon”…

One more for this post, and then we’ll turn it over to the comments section…The Byrds singing “Friday,” a song originally written and recorded but never released by Bob Dylan. The song was made popular a few years ago by Rebecca Black.

So now it’s up to you…tell me some of your favorite offbeat cover songs in the comments, with a YouTube link if you can find one!

Top 50 Hair Metal Songs: #13 – Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne “Close My Eyes Forever”

Both Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne got their big breaks with other bands (The Runaways and Black Sabbath, respectively), but had solid solo careers going by the time this song hit the airwaves. From the 1988 album, Lita, “Close My Eyes Forever” was certified Gold and peaked at #8 on the Billboard charts.

This song is included because of Lita, not Ozzy. He falls more on the hard rock/heavy metal side than the pop side of things, which is what we are trying to focus on here.

Other songs considered: “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Falling In And Out Of Love,” “Hungry”

Purchase Lita Ford music.

Purchase Ozzy Osbourne music.

R.I.P. Randy Rhoads

(December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982)

Thirty years ago today, guitar legend Randy Rhoads was killed in an airplane crash. He was on tour with Ozzy Osbourne at the time. He had previously played with Quiet Riot. There are two studio albums by Quiet Riot featuring Randy Rhoads released only in Japan, as well as a collection that Kevin Dubrow released in the USA in the 1990s. With Ozzy, Randy recorded two studio albums; there is also a live Ozzy album featuring the guitarist.

Celebrate Halloween early!

Tomorrow night on Hard Rock Nights, we’ll be going through some of the most mortifying hard rock ever recorded! Of course there will be some KISS, Ozzy and Alice, but we don’t stop there! We’re going to rock out with some seldom heard Fastway, Dangerous Toys, and Armored Saint, and we’re even throwing in a couple of new tracks from Randy Piper’s Animal and Stone Gods!

So mark your calendars, tie a string around your finger, whatever you need to do to remember: Halloween is coming early to Hard Rock Nights! Saturday, October 25, 9-11 pm eastern time. Listen on-line at!!!

New HRN promotional video

Hard Rock Nights…tonight

The show will be on again tonight from 9-11 pm eastern time. Log on to and follow the links to listen live. I’ll have some Ozzy, KISS, Faster Pussycat, Skid Row, Aerosmith…and new stuff from Lynam and Endeverafter. Tune in! And be sure to stop by the Hard Rock Nights blog after the show for the full playlist!

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