Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Flying High Again"

Friday, September 13, 2013
Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Flying High Again"

It cemented Randy Rhoads's reputation and made me like Ozzy Osbourne all at the same time. Yes, I'm one of those naysayers who doesn't really care that much for the Prince of Darkness in his original band Black Sabbath, I prefer the solo act. But just like that band in its present incarnation is sans its drummer, the band that cut "Flying High Again" can never reunite, because Bob Daisey and Lee Kerslake have been excommunicated and Randy Rhoads is dead.

Randy Rhoads... He played in an L.A. band with a Japanese deal that could never break outside the Basin. Yes, by time Quiet Riot banged its head all over America, getting everybody to feel the noise, Randy was long gone. You can't keep a superstar down. And the best players always leave, unless they're the band, and if they're not the lead singer, they're not.

So Black Sabbath comes from left field with its debut, out-heavying everybody out there, and then starts fading not long thereafter, still making records, but soon losing quality, certainly after "Paranoid." Then Ozzy gets kicked out and goes solo, like we care. But suddenly, people did.

You've got to understand, L.A. was the king of rock radio. We had so many FM rock stations, it was almost like SiriusXM. We had the soft rock of KNX at 93.1 all the way up to KWST, aka "the Led Zeppelin station," up at 105.9 and KROQ, the home of alternative, even further up the dial. And right smack dab in the middle were the reigning champions. The hip KMET 94.7 and the conservative me-too outlet KLOS at 95.5. And when you hit the weekend, KMET, KLOS and KWST turned it up, in a war for rock supremacy. This is when you heard Foghat, when if it was slow and easy, they didn't play it. And suddenly I started to hear this song again and again. I soon realized it was Ozzy, I recognized the vocal sound, but I could never figure out its name. There was no Internet. You'd comb the albums in the store, but how was I to know it was entitled "Flying High Again"? You just couldn't make out the words through the car speaker. But the hypnotic groove and Randy Rhoads snaking his way up and down the fretboard starting at 2:20, ultimately peeling off the notes so fast and so right, made it so you could never forget this track. Time passed, I started to look forward to the weekend, when I could hear this song once again.

It's the blistering guitar work. But it's also Ozzy saying "Here we go now..."

Oh no, it's loud guitars and Marshall amps and a sound so deafening half the audience dismisses it on principle. That's why people love metal. Hell, it got faster and noisier as the years passed by, but you can't find a single tattooed gunslinger who will not admit to positively loving Ozzy Osbourne and his work with Randy Rhoads.

Oh, according to Daisy and Kerslake, the former wrote a bunch of the music and most of the lyrics on "Diary Of A Madman," and the latter was mostly responsible for "Flying High Again." And eventually their dissatisfaction with credit and compensation had Sharon wiping their work from the album, but now it's been restored, so it's the same as it ever was.

But it's completely unlike the sound of that band that uttered those lyrics. Yes, while Talking Heads were leading an alternative/new wave revolution, Ozzy was heading further into the hard rock wilderness, and the funny thing is it's his music that's remembered most.

What you want at the show is to be totally enraptured, to become one with the music. And the performance counts, but it starts with the material. "Flying High Again" has got more twists and turns than a roller coaster, it's a ride for only the hearty, who enjoy it so much they don't get off, they keep riding. When you hear "Flying High Again" at the show, you raise your arms in the air, you bang your head, you feel like someone finally gets you!

"Daddy thinks I'm crazy he don't understand
Never saw inside my head
People think I'm crazy but I'm in demand
Never heard a thing I said"

Exactly. They never understand, they stop listening, meanwhile their progeny sneaks out at night, following the Pied Pipers of the new sound, which cannot be denied.

Yes, once upon a time, before MTV, before the facelift, Ozzy Osbourne was dangerous. And we loved him for it.

But even more, we loved his music.