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Classic Album Reviews | The Clash / Ozzy Osbourne | The Essential

Comparing & contrasting compilations from the punk kings & the prince of darkness.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Much like beauty, essentialness is in the eye of the beholder. Or the ear, in the case of two compilations from punk legends The Clash and bat-chomping metal god Ozzy Osbourne.

Let’s weigh the evidence: Both sets are two-disc affairs. Both cut a wide swath through their subjects’ careers. Both come with the usual pictures, liner notes and yadda yadda. But while the 40-track Essential Clash comes off as a sadly incomplete (if well-intended) biography of The Only Band That Matters, the 29-song Essential Ozzy feels as bloated and pointless as … well, Ozzy himself.

How come? Well, partly it’s a matter of consistency. Nearly every song on the first three Clash albums was a classic, which leaves every missing cut (like, say, All The Young Punks, Hateful and Wrong ’Em Boyo) conspicuous by its absence. Ozzy? Not so much. Frankly, many of his finest moments came during his Black Sabbath days, which aren’t represented here (save for a live version of Paranoid).

Another difference? Longevity. The Clash have been gone for nearly 20 years, imbuing songs like White Riot, Tommy Gun, London Calling and even Train In Vain with the legitimacy and dignity of age. Ozzy’s still around — and while oldies like Crazy Train, Mr. Crowley, I Don’t Know and Bark At The Moon are keepers, I doubt even he recalls recent material like No Easy Way Out and Thunder Underground.

Finally, there’s the dignity factor. The Clash were never media whores (well, at least not until the very end). Ozzy? He love you long time — and sing No More Tears while he do it. Not a very pretty picture.