Supergroups can be incredibly hit or miss. For every Hollywood Vampires there’s a bunch of Contrabands and Damnocracys. Clashing egos is the number two reason for these ventures breaking up. The number one reason is that they just aren’t that super. Thankfully, Living Loud is both super and amicable, and just really enjoying themselves.
This particular little-known supergroup was formed in 2003 And consisted of Steve Morse, Lee Kerslake, Bob Daisley and Jimmy Barnes. Certainly not your usual suspects for a group like this. I know Steve and Jimmy had met before, Barnes guesting for Deep Purple in Newcastle a few years prior, but I’m not sure of the link between these two and Daisley and Kerslake. But whatever the reason, I’m glad they got together because this album rocks much harder than anything made by some “supergroups” of more well-known musicians. This album consists of six original songs, and five Ozzy Osbourne covers sourced from his first two albums (While the liner notes specifically state in the negatory, one cannot help but wonder how much of this album was influenced by Sharon Osbourne replacing Daisley and Kerslake’s bass and drum parts on those albums). The covers and originals are almost exclusively alternated in the running order, ensuring those who only bought this for the Ozzy never have to wait too long for the next one. This also helps the album feel cohesive and not like two different albums sandwiched together.
The covers (if you can really call them that- more than half the original band play on some of them!) on the album are “I Don’t Know”, “Crazy Train”, “Flying High Again”, “Mr Crowley” and “Over the Mountain”. The covers are unsurprisingly very well-done. Daisley and Kerslake still bring the goods. Steve Morse is an excellent guitarist and brings a lot to the table, even with his trademark disregard for the solos of the source material. Jimmy Barnes is also very well equipped for Ozzy covers. His voice really suits the songs, while also keeping them fresh and unique. The covers aren’t just straight copies, there’s some nice tweaks done by the guys, including a new fade-out ending to “Crazy Train”. There are also some cool vocal effects on Barnes on “Mr Crowley” and, while I usually disapprove of the use of such effects, it fits the song incredibly well (Keyboards, if you were wondering, are expertly handled by Don Airey). The slight increase in tempo of “Mr Crowley” is also good in my book.
The originals, despite not being the selling point to the casual fan, still pull their weight incredibly well. Opener “Last Chance” is a really solid rocker and my favorite of the originals. The remaining ones, though not as up-front rocking as “Last Chance”, are still great. Songs like “Every Moment a Lifetime”, “In the Name of God” and “Pushed Me Too Hard” are quite similar to the blues-rock style Barnes uses often on his solo albums, but still rock with great guitar-playing from Morse and some great choruses. “In the Name of God” in particular features some great and easily noticeable eastern influence that add flavor to the song and album, but it’s “Pushed Me Too Hard” that takes the top spot after “Last Chance” for me. The pre-chorus is great, and the chorus combines head-banging riffs with some powerful vocals by Barnes. A wining combo.
The next two originals, the only two originals to be played back to back, are “Tonight” and “Walk Away”. The former is a bit likely to fade into the background among the other songs, but it gets the job done and isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. Just a little dull. The latter is a bit more interesting but is very similar in quality to “Tonight”, which is a shame as the two original songs on the album that would be your last pick to be back-to-back are these two. Luckily things are rounded out with some top-notch Ozzy to end the album on a high note. “Over the Mountain” is one of my favorite Ozzy songs and I’m pleased to report that Living Loud have done it justice. This song rocks, and Morse absolutely nails his variations on the original solos (not that his other interpretations of other solos were bad)
Now this particular version of the album also includes a bonus track on disc one and a DVD of their debut live performance (we might get to that one at a later date). The bonus track though, is a live performance of “I Don’t Know” from that very concert. While this is appreciated, the iTunes version got live versions of “Crazy Train” and “Good Times” (an Easybeats cover that Barnes has included in his live sets for a long time). “Good Times” would definitely be the best pick for a bonus track as it’s not on the main album. But it’s on the DVD so at least I have it there. Now whether you’re a Barnes fan, an Ozzy fan, a Morse fan, a Daisley or Kerslake fan, or just want to support the lads, this album will not disappoint you. Although it definitely helps to be a Barnes fan.
The verdict- 4.25/5
Definitely one of the best supergroups to record an album.
(There’s also quite a story about how I discovered this band, but we’ll leave that for a later date)