Various Artists

Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute
Various Artists

Randy RhoadsYou can thank Randy Rhoads for rescuing Ozzy Osborne from obscurity to become a wealthy reality television star and household name. Recruiting the indispensible songwriting skills of bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake, the musically inept Osborne surrounded himself with a crack team of professionals who authored Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman. Having been fired from Black Sabbath for being perpetually inebriated, these two seminal metal albums kickstarted a music empire making Osborne the luckiest front man in history.

The songs were strong, the rhythm section killed, but it was the guitar playing that sent every hard rock and metal guitarist sprinting to the woodshed. Like Edward Van Halen and Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Rhoads sent shock waves through the hard rock and metal community. His discipline, finesse, compositional approach to soloing, and a love of classical music influenced millions of metal guitarists. Today, 33 years after his tragic death in an airplane accident at the age of 25, Rhoads’ playing is still a benchmark. Not only is he the template for every guitarist to emulate in Osborne’s current band, he remains a huge influence to contemporary metal guitarists.

Produced by Grammy-winning guitarist Bob Kulick, this tribute is a collection of 11 songs that reminds us that despite the plethora of guitar talent that came after his death, Rhoads still reigns supreme. The rhythm section consisting of Rudy Sarzo, Frankie Banali, Vinny Appice, and Brett Chassen, support a who’s who of high-profile guitarists. Performing material from the aforementioned albums and Rhoads’ previous band Quiet Riot, vocal duties are handled by Serj Tankian, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Chuck Billy, and bother Kelle Rhoads.

Tom Morello revisits his roots on “Crazy Train,” staying true to the original vibe of the composition, but overdubs his signature freak-out shrieks and ray-gun noises. Jon Donais of Shadows Fall nails “Over The Mountain” note-for-note, while Alexi Laiho and Doug Aldrich unleash incendiary decimation on “Mr. Crowley” and “Believer” respectively.

George Lynch rips on “I Don’t Know,” Dweezil Zappa earns a high-five on “SATO,” and Ozzy alumnus Brad Gillis goes ballistic on “Suicide Solution.” It’s a reverential recording with Owens expertly handling most of the vocals, matching Ozzy’s high–pitched whine and then some. The additional talents of Bruce Kulick, Joel Hoekstra, Gus G, and Bernie Torme keep Rhoads’ spirit alive, but one can’t help but feel compelled to spin Ozzy’s Tribute album to hear the real deal in all his glory.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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