“Is the reissued release of an album ALWAYS superior to the original?” Such a question is valid – particularly when one takes the recent proliferation of reissues from both major and indie labels into account. In nearly every case, a “new” re-examination of an old title comes with many sound and production renovations courtesy of the possibilities that both new technology and imagination affords. The Beatles reissues released on CD in 2009 by EMI and then on vinyl in 2014 by Universal Music glistened with the benefit of new digital production techniques and ideas which were applied to them. Similarly, the reissues of the Jimi Hendrix catalogue which began to appear most recently in 2010 really shone thanks to the care which was put into them.
In both of those cases, the technology employed to spruce up the recordings yielded results significant enough that they offered some new insight into the music and enriched the listening experience but, conversely, reissues like Iggy Pop’s artist-endorsed reissue of The Stooges’ Raw Power (which came out in 1997) and The Doors’ LA Woman reissue (2012) both yielded diminished returns because the production methods and the presentation decisions made either did not meet the expectations that fans had, or they challenged the popular perceptions of the music too much and fans recoiled from the results. Even now, some of those reissues are spoken of in bitter tones by fans.
While it wasn’t as plainly disliked as some of the greater rogues in the music industry reissues gallery have been (including the 2002 reissue of Blizzard Of Ozz, which saw the songs being more aggressively changed and parts by Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake replaced by Ozzy band members Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin after a legal dispute over royalties), the 2011 reissue of Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard Of Ozz simply proved not to be of the same caliber or quality as its 1980-pressed, Jet/CBS counterpart when one listens closely – but close listening is definitely required to get a sense of the difference.
With careful attention, the added nuance that listeners can find in the grooves of a well-kept and cared-for original vinyl copy of Blizzard Of Ozz easily trumps the reissued article from 2011. The plainest and most obvious examples of the difference between the releases can be found in “Crazy Train,” “Suicide Solution” and “Dee” on the album’s A-side and in “Mr. Crowley” and “Revelation (Mother Earth)” on the B-side: in each of those cases, it’s not that the new versions of the songs are poorer exactly, just that the remixing/remastering job done for the reissue steals some of the detail and nuance from them. During the solo break in “Crazy Train,” for example, those who listen closely may get the impression that Randy Rhoads’ performance isn’t doubled as was done elsewhere on the album but, rather, it sounds as though the guitarist actually performed his part twice and then overlaid them on top of each other; the differences are subtle but, on the original vinyl pressing of Blizzard Of Ozz, they amount to a different presentation that fans will find fantastic – if they can find a copy.
Other differences like that manifest in other songs throughout the Blizzard Of Ozz LP as well. The original presentation of “Suicide Solution” offers a larger and more genuinely sinister sensation truly worthy of the criticism it generated back in the day (the bridge – which features the “Shoot, shoot, shoot” passage – sounds genuinely frayed and frenetic as the mix swirls between the left and right channels), while “Mr. Crowley” sounds epic and truly evil compared to the just-a-hair-too-refined rendition found on the “new and improved” remaster. The sense that the performance is a little rawer (and so just a little more metal) surfaces in the leaner experience of “Revelation (Mother Earth)” too.
With all of the above discussion and criticism collected together here and now on the proverbial record, the differences between the “old” and “new” versions of Blizzard Of Ozz will likely seem just that much greater to readers, and they may find that they too would like to go back to the beginning and experience the original album as it actually once was – not as it was marketed in 2011 [the 2011 version was touted as ‘the original recording reissued’ – but that’s far from accurate], but that is no easy feat. After thirty-four years on the open market, finding a vinyl copy of the original presentation of Blizzard Of Ozz in good condition isn’t easy [this writer’s copy came from a really lucky break at a garage sale] and it is for that reason only a comparative few will have the chance to appreciate the delicacy of this metal monster.
Those who have the opportunity to grab an original copy of Blizzard Of Ozz are advised to take it – they will not regret the purchase – and those who don’t have the opportunity but do have the interest should begin petitioning Legacy Recordings for a real, genuine reissue of the original Blizzard Of Ozz; there is simply no substitute for the original.
Ground Control Magazine – Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz (2011 reissue) – [Review]
The original version of Blizzard of Ozz was released on September 20, 1980 on Jet Records/CBS. Finding a good copy is a gamble, but scour yard sales, used record stores, Amazon and kijiji to find your copy.