They weren’t short of extra hands to help out. From Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Guns N’ Roses’ legendary bassist Duff McKagan to Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and Pearl Jam six-stringer Mike McCready, the staff ooze class. The lack of old favourites on Ordinary Man is rectified, too, with the return of Ozzy veteran (and current Metallica man) Robert Trujillo on bass with Ozzy acolyte / incoming Pantera guitarist Zakk Wylde shredding on a majority of tracks. “Wherever Ozzy Osbourne is,” the mainman grins, “Zakk Wylde ain’t going to be far away.”
The real “cream” on the record, though, Ozzy insists, chuckling at his accidental pun, are iconic guitarists Eric Clapton (One Of Those Days) and Jeff Beck (A Thousand Shades). Aged 77 and 78 respectively, their headline-grabbing presence here, as opposed to, say, Post Malone and Travis Scott last time out, feels indicative of PN9’s more old-school, stately feel. Although he can’t hide his disappointment at not being able to complete The Yardbirds’ Holy Trinity by getting Jimmy Page involved, Ozzy presses that there’s no hard feelings, explaining that, “I texted Jimmy, but I presume that he may have changed his phone,” with the frank tone of someone who suspects that may genuinely have been the case.
Then there’s Tony Iommi, appearing on an Ozzy solo record for the very first time. After all these decades, what had been stopping him getting together with one of his oldest friends?
“It was just that I never asked him,” comes the straight-shot reply. “There was a time when we were at war and I sang on one of his albums [Who’s Fooling Who from 2000’s Iommi LP] but I’d never given it a thought [that he might] play on one of mine, to be honest. It was actually Andrew who said, ‘Why don’t you ask Tony Iommi if he wants to do something?’ I was like, ‘I know he’s going to tell me to go fuck myself.’ But you don’t know until you ask. When he sent [his parts] over, I heard them and was just like, ‘Fuck me!’”
Tantalisingly, there’s even the suggestion that the duo could work together on a full album again. There’s a wariness, however, about the baggage that would come with such a grand collaboration.
“If Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi do an album together, it’s going to sound like a Sabbath album. Tony was the sound of Sabbath. There’s no getting away from the fact that, when he plays with me, it’ll be some kind of a reflection of that. Maybe the tracks he did on my album was like what Sabbath should have been had we stayed together, but I want to take it away from Sabbath. We put that band to bed. And if he wants to [make it another] Sabbath album, I’m not doing it!”