In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, inspired by Jack White’s new solo effort, we’re picking songs by solo acts that split from our favorite bands.
I like Black Sabbath a lot—a whole lot. I could probably sing Paranoid backward and forward. And yet I still think my favorite Ozzy Osbourne song is “Crazy Train,” the first single off Osbourne’s 1980 solo album Blizzard Of Ozz. I guess that makes sense, considering Osbourne’s vocals don’t exactly account for the bulk of Black Sabbath’s strengths. Still, in 1980—when he was probably coked out of his mind and flailing around musically—Osbourne still managed to make a pretty good solo record in Blizzard. Perhaps that’s due in part to the influence of guitarist Randy Rhoads, who certainly had something to do with the song’s minor-scale riffs, but let’s give Osbourne the benefit of the doubt. Maybe “Crazy Train” was a song he’d been working on for years, honing in his mind, and he somehow birthed it into the world fully formed as one of the best metal cuts—rock cuts, even—of all time. Or maybe it was a total fluke: a song that Osbourne just happens to appear on, and have a writing credit on, but that he didn’t have all that much to do with. Either way, who cares? It’s still pretty fucking good.