Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute

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All-star tribute albums to classic metal acts produced by guitarist Bob Kulick are not a new phenomenon, he's been doing them for decades now and always seems to be able to call on a pool of first class talent to help him. Most of the time the albums feature different lead guitarists and singers on every song, with a rotating cast of bassists, drummers, and rhythm guitarists, but this one, for deceased guitarist Randy Rhoads, is slightly different. On paper it should have been a good release, but in practice it's rife with problems. Rhoads was most famous for playing guitar on Ozzy Osbourne's first two solo albums after the singer left Black Sabbath at the beginning of the 1980s, and as such nine of the eleven tracks here are from those two records, with two from his time in a fledgling Quiet Riot for good measure. Before even getting to the specific performances here, the contrast in the quality of the songs themselves is very stark, and as nice as it may be to cover more of Randy's tragically short career than just the Ozzy material, those songs with Quiet Riot just weren't very good. The album is also a lot lighter on the guest singers front as well, with Tim "Ripper" Owens being drafted in to sing eight of the 11 songs, which actually ends up making the other singers feels like interruptions, rather than guests, and only Testament's Chuck Billy really doing himself proud. System of A Down's Serj Tankian isn't a good match for Crazy Train (and Tom Morello's guitar playing is surprisingly poor too), and Randy's brother Kelle simply isn't a very good singer (not aided by the song Back To The Coast, which the brothers co-wrote for the Quiet Riot album, being a weak track in the first place). On the rest, for some reason Ripper's vocals are double-tracked, making them sound like they're being performed several feet from the microphone, with heavy echo, and even his actual performances aren't up to his usual standards. He nails S.A.T.O., but his Goodbye To Romance and Suicide Solution sound tired compared to his excellent vocals on a version of Mr. Crowley from the 2000 Ozzy tribute album Bat Head Soup, although in the case of Suicide Solution it might be down to Brad Gillis slowing down the riffs so much. In fact, of the guitar players, very few seem to be able to do Randy's classically-influenced flourishes justice at all, and some, like George Lynch on I Don't Know, don't even manage to pull of the riffs very well, most taking a chunkier approach without any of Rhoads' original subtlety. Dweezil Zappa on S.A.T.O. is by far the stand-out performer. These all-star tributes can often be a lot of fun, but this is one to miss.

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2015, Heavy Metal, Quick.Play Reviews, Tribute Albums, ,

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