Ozzy Osbourne – “The Ultimate Sin” (1986)

Ozzy!  I’m not sure what to think of Ozzy Osbourne the man, but Ozzy Osbourne the band?  Well that’s just some kick-ass shiznit!  There were several key figures that had a hand in making the Ozzy Osbourne band so great (guys like Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde, and Ozzy himself).  The Ozzy Osbourne discography of the ’80s stands as one of the best of the decade.

The Ultimate Sin has often been cited as Ozzy Osbourne’s worst album of the ’80s.  Though I agree it is not a perfect album, I still have a very favorable opinion of The Ultimate Sin.  As for flaws, it does seem (at least to these ears) that Ozzy’s performance on this album was less inspired than in previous years, and the glossy production by Ron Nevison (same guy who did KISS’ Crazy Nights in ’87) did not totally suit Ozzy Osbourne’s style.  I often skip two tracks when I listen to The Ultimate Sin, Killer Of Giants and Thank God For The Bomb, leaving seven tracks that I would rate as good or great.  Bassist Phil Soussan was responsible for writing the album’s best song (and biggest hit) Shot In The Dark, a truly memorable tune.  I also really like Lightning Strikes, Secret Loser and Fool Like You.  At the end of the day, Ozzy could always be counted on to deliver a great melody and have a top-notch guitarist by his side (Jake E. Lee on this one).

Sadly, The Ultimate Sin has been unceremoniously “deleted” from the Ozzy catalog.  The last time it was released on CD was in 1995.  Subsequent re-releases and re-packaging of Ozzy music have always omitted this album.  I remember reading somewhere Ozzy thinks this album sucks, but a more realistic reason is that Ozzy doesn’t want to share royalties with Soussan or (lyricist) Bob Daisley.  The parties have been embroiled in litigation over royalties in the past.  Douche move by Ozzy and crew.  Good tunes, though.  You can still find used copies of the 1995 remaster out there.  Scoop it up.  My score: A-

UPDATE: My hypothesis that Ozzy deleted The Ultimate Sin due to royalty battles with Phil Soussan has been proven FALSE by Phil Soussan himself!  Here’s what he wrote me:

Hi and thanks for reviewing The Ultimate Sin!

Needless to say I am very proud of this album, but to address your comment on why it has been deleted I wanted to offer a few of my thoughts – 
The idea that the album was deleted due to royalty arguments is frankly not true and cannot be the reason; my own legal problems with the Osbournes was confined to accounting issues – they were not issuing royalty payments on time.  Since 1993 that issue was resolved and those payments have been timely.  The last issue of The Ultimate Sin was in 1995, two years after this was resolved.  Another interesting point – Ozzy regularly performs “Shot In The Dark” live with Gus G at his concerts.  On the other note, I am not aware of any claim going on between Daisley and the Osbournes for this album, only the first 2 Blizzard albums. 
I do think that it has to do with the fact that Ozzy changed so much along with the emergence of the grunge era.  He almost rejected the whole glam appearance that he had before.  It might have seemed silly or not as hard of an image as he was trying to portray going forward, despite the success of probably his most successful album and tour period.  It seems that recently a lot of people have been giving the Sin album another listen and are appreciating it for its merits.  I get a lot of mail complimenting us on these forgotten tracks which feature some really high energy performances by the late great Randy Castillo (RIP) and Jake E Lee, in spite of the dreadful production engineering of Ron Nevison; The album sounds so thin and overpowering in high-end treble frequencies – it always bugged me.
Perhaps we will see it re-issued sometime in the near future 🙂
Rock On!
Phil Soussan
Btw – do check out my own re-record of “Shot in the Dark”, which sounds more as I would have liked it to sound on the original!

2 thoughts on “Ozzy Osbourne – “The Ultimate Sin” (1986)

  1. I like this album, ok, it may not have been Ozzy’s best, but it’s still a good album. The memory it holds for me is I saw him on this tour and that concert was the first one I had to contend with all the Jesus freaks coming and preaching that we’re all going to hell for seeing an Ozzy concert. Fun memories!

  2. …Poor Jake E Lee. A ex-member of Ratt, Rough Cutt and Dio ( but no recordings, widely available)…but he does lay down a couple of cool albums, for Ozzy Osbourne.

    I do want to see a Jake E Lee album of this early years with Ratt, Rough Cutt and Dio…

    At first I shyed away for this era, because I began heavy metal with Tygers Of Pan Tang, Iron Maiden and Blizzard Of Ozz. So I will never forget where I was when I heard the news of the air plane Crash.

    Cool record review, with a killer update !!!!!!!!

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