photo & text by nacrowe
i am aware that the previous album NO REST FOR THE WICKED (EPIC, 1988) was his debut on an OZZY OSBOURNE record, but for me NO MORE TEARS (EPIC, 1991) is the real coming-out party for the squealing riffage and pinch-harmonic madness that is the virtuosic yet tasteful guitar playing of ZAKK WYLDE. i start out saying this because OZZY has been blessed in his career to collaborate with some singular guitar players: namely TONY IOMMI and RANDY RHOADS (R.I.P). to say that WYLDE was successful in establishing his own sonic legacy within such a storied lineage is pretty remarkable.
tracks like "MR. TINKERTRAIN," "DESIRE," "I DON'T WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD," "HELLRAISER" and "ZOMBIE STOMP" are ripping, propulsive examples that showcase his paradoxically flashy yet tastefully restrained style. he is equal parts JIMI HENDRIX, ALBERT LEE and ROBIN TROWER. i read years ago in an interview that he was very deliberate when joining OZZY's band about not stepping on the toes of his predecessors (TONY IOMMI, RANDY RHOADS, JAKE E. LEE) and this strayed away from TRIADS, DIVE BOMBS (and WHAMMY BAR TRICKS in general) and anything sounding NEOCLASSICAL. this meant that he relied on NATURAL and PINCH HARMONICS and PENTATONICS to derive and inform his expressive style. and in my opinion it worked.
as for OZZY, this record found him in a reflective mood as he was at a stage where he had a second chance at fatherhood with a growing young family. famously the tour for this record was the ingeniously (and in retrospect laughably incorrect) monikered NO MORE TOURS tour where he played with the idea of retirement. he beat JAY-Z to that punch by a decade. given that introspective sentiment, the notable track "MAMA, I'M COMING HOME" finds him pledging to his wife SHARON that he is ready to finally settle down. it was co-written with the legendary MOTORHEAD frontman LEMMY KILMISTER (along with"HELLRAISER"). that song also showcases some tasteful DICKY BETTS-esque acoustic chicken-picking by the likes of WYLDE, again making his range very apparent.
outside of the classic RANDY RHOADS albums of the early 1980s, NO MORE TEARS is the OZZY solo record i return to most often. arguably the best produced record, it just sounds huge with a hungry young guitarist at the peak of his powers. it still holds up and most definitely worth reinvestigation.