Steal Away The Night (Book Review)
Released: 2014, Backbeat Books
I need a bigger house. I need more rooms with more coffee tables so I can have all these cool, Metal-themed, coffee-table books lying about. As it stands I have to have them standing in a bookcase, or lying about in conspicuous places like the bathroom. The explosion of the Metal coffee-table book industry (if there is such a thing) is pretty massive. I must have about three dozen of these big, bold beautiful books and I’d guess at least a third of them are written by Martin Popoff, including his newest, one, STEAL AWAY THE NIGHT.
Teaming up again with Backbeat books, STEAL AWEAY THE NIGHT is sub-tilted AN Ozzy Osbourne Day By Day. It follows the same style as the recent Iron Maiden day by Day, which is essentially a calendar with key points in the history of one Mr. John Osbourne. The thing I like is that this book focuses on the Ozzy solo years, namely 1980 onward. There is a chapter that briefly brings us up to speed on his early years and Black Sabbath but those stories have been told countless times elsewhere. If you think about it, this really is the first comprehensive look at Ozzy’s solo career.
The hard cover is very appealing to look at, 252 pages with loads of gorgeous visuals including some nice occult-ish watermarks on each page. The format is very readable with lots of photos , quotes, panels and boxed side-bars adding comments and trivia. Martin pens a fine introduction and includes a bibliography and discography. Martin has interviewed Ozzy and members of Ozzy’s solo acts, countless times so much of this info is first hand stuff. There are tons and tons of photos and sots of rare Ozzy memorabilia courtesy of Mitch Vanbeekum, who by the looks of it has everything that Ozzy has ever had his smiling mug slapped on from the Ozzy silver coin, the Osbournes lunchbox, the Ozzy wall clock, the Ozzy Bark At The Moon doll (ahem, I mean ‘action figure’) and the bottle of Ozzy Holy Water. I mean I knew Ozzy had a lot of crap out there but he might be even getting up there into Maiden and Kiss territory for merchandise.
I really enjoyed reading highlights of Ozzy’s career and even more so the last four albums, representing the past two-decades, because as a fan I lost that excitement for Ozzy solo albums right around Ozzmosis. The rest of them I have permanently fused to my frontal lobe but those last four albums, not so much. In fact, I viewed this as an opportunity to re-enjoy the last few Ozzy solo albums, and as Martin suggests, they aren’t that bad and worth re-visiting. But let’s face it, Ozzy is not really all that productive with only 10 solo albums in almost 35 years, compared to Saxon, a band of similar vintage, that have 20 albums in 35 years. Some of the years in STEAL AWAY THE NIGHT are pretty thin on info, especially the late part of the last decade, 2007-2009 and most of 2010-2013 Ozzy was just…dormant. Sure there was always something going on with the Osbourne (aka Sharon) corporate machine; reissues, compilations, documentaries, books, lawsuits, etc… but in terms of making new music, not so much.
STEAL AWAY THE NIGHT is a fantastic work and Popoff’s love for the Ozzman shines through and helped rekindle my appreciation for post 1991 Ozzy. Popoff doesn’t skimp on excellent info on any number of members of Ozzy’s solo band over the years. Popoff reinforces that, next to Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Ozzy is probably the greatest star-breaker & career maker in all of Metaldom. The book is great to sit and read straight through, or perhaps more logically, leave lying about on your coffee and dip into it periodically to see what the madman was up to on any given day at that point in history and time. The funny thing is I don’t even drink coffee, so my one lonely little coffee table will have to stay piled up with awesome books like STEAL AWAY THE NIGHT.