Various Artists
Flying High Again: The World's Greatest Tribute

Let’s put aside the pretentious subtitle of this record because it’s almost to easy to take shots at it. (And considering the quality of most tribute albums, how hard is it really to be the world’s greatest?) In fact, it may live up to its billing. It’s certainly the best of the several Ozzy tributes that I’ve heard over the years, which is to say that it’s a bunch of musicians having fun doing their favorite Ozzy songs karaoke-style.And this is definitely one of those karaoke tribute albums. Only the Alex Skolnick Trio breaks the mold to do something different with a song, turning “Goodbye to Romance” into a jazz number. Everyone else plays it straight, nearly note for note like the original.

There were a couple of pairings that immediately intrigued me, the first being Tim “Ripper” Owens and Yngwie Malmsteen on “Mr. Crowley,” and as expected, it’s one of the strongest outings on the record. The other was a strange mix of Lemmy Kilmister, Ritchie Kotzen and Jeff Pilson on “Desire,” a song originally penned by Lemmy and a song later recorded by Motorhead. It seems strange that Lemmy would do a song for a tribute that Motorhead’s done, but it’s a solid version.

The one that really left me scratching my head here was Lita Ford doing “Close My Eyes Forever.” For one thing, it was her song to begin with. Ozzy just guested on it. It seems a little self-important to record a live version of your own song for a tribute to someone else (and the “close my thighs forever” joke at the beginning doesn’t help.) It’s easily the weakest track here.

Aside from “Mr. Crowley,” the other top performances are George Lynch and Icarus Witch on “S.A.T.O.” and Dee Snider’s slightly demented delivery on “Crazy Train,” with Doug Aldrich and Jason Bonham backing him. Then there are a lot of middle of the road numbers like Forever Say Die’s “Bark at the Moon,” Mark Slaughter and former Ozzy guitarist Brad Gillis’ version of “Over the Mountain,” Jack Blades and Reb Beach’s “I Don’t Know” and Joe Lynn Turner and Steve Lukather’s “Hellraiser.” None are bad, but none are really great either.

There are a couple of good bands here that get sidetracked by strange song choices. Children of Bodom take on “Shot in the Dark,” and like most of the cover songs they do, they play it just like the original. Musically it’s not bad, but Alexi Laiho’s vocals just don’t work at all with the song. A faster song might have worked better for them. Likewise, November’s Doom takes on “Revelation (Mother Earth),” and while you hear jokes about Cookie Monster vocals, Paul Kuhr actually does sound exactly like Cookie Monster here. I know. I watch “Sesame Street” with my kid just about every day.

In the end, Flying High Again is a decent tribute album (though it is a bit odd that no one recorded the title track.) There are no really surprising song choices here, and everyone pretty much plays it straight. If you like some of these artists and want to hear them doing Ozzy karaoke, you’ll probably enjoy it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
April 15th, 2005

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