Back in the 80’s, I remember when songs of the 60’s and early 70’s used to come on the radio and I used to say, “really, play something more current.”
They sounded old. Fast forward to today and all I play is old tunes. Actually 70 percent of the music I listen to is pre 1995. More specifically; 1980 to 1992.
It’s hard to believe that “Diary Of A Madman” is 36 years old.
Like the “Blizzard” album before it, “Diary” is a listening experience from start to end. And because of my addiction to the “Tribute” album, I was blown away by the depth of material on “Diary” that didn’t appear on the live album, like “Over The Mountain”, “SATO”, “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”, “Tonight” and the unbelievable title track.
To top it off, it clocks in at 43 minutes which meant back in the 80’s I could dub it one side of a 45 cassette tape and the other side I could devote to the “Blizzard” album. Those other 80s cassette dubbers will know how cool it was to dub.
Over The Mountain
The underrated drumming of Lee Kerslake kicks off the album, before Randy kicks in with the G#m pedal point riff. At a high level, the song is the evolution of RR covering Sabbath songs. The main riff is inspired by “Children Of The Grave”.
When it morphs into the instrumental interlude, the key moves to D#m and it’s a standard harmonic movement in baroque music. This time however, pull offs and hammer-ons are added to the 16th note pulse.
Did anyone pick up on the “Black Sabbath” riff used before the solo break?
The bridge is very Rush sounding, which is simple power chords played over a shimmering and ringing of the open E and B strings.
The melody is pop all the way.
It is infectious and did anyone pick up Daisley’s reference to songs from the past like “Ticket To Ride” from Beatles, “Magic Carpet Ride” from Steppenwolf and “Shooting Star” from Bad Company. Maybe it was coincidental.
“Over the mountain, take me across the sky”
“Don’t need no astrology; it’s inside of you and me”
“You don’t need a ticket to fly with me, I’m free, yeah”
And that solo. It’s a masterpiece of Randy’s guitar style, combining Vivaldi inspired lines with tremolo bar dives, open string pull offs like in “The Lemon Song” from Led Zeppelin or like “Jeff’s Boogie” from Jeff Beck and combining it all with chromatics.
Flying High Again
The AC/DC style groove allows Randy to colour the spaces. I also do recall reading that Lee Kerslake came up with the vocal melody for “Flying High Again”. I am sure if I Google it, I would be able to find the link.
When Grunge came out, a lot of the reporters wrote articles that expressed how the Grunge players played with feel. And they generally compared these grunge players to all of the guitar players in the 80’s. What the reporters should have done is compared the “Grunge” feel players to the guitar players they wanted to compare them too, instead of generalising because Randy Rhoads played with feel and melodicism.
This song is a beautiful example of “compositional” guitar work. The solo is constructed and performed in the tradition of a classical piece.
“Got a crazy feeling I don’t understand
‘Gotta get away from here
Feelin’ like I should have kept my feet on the ground
Waitin’ for the sun to appear”
You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll
Daisley wrote the lyrics over an Ozzy hummed melody. Lyrically, it deals about record companies being greedy and trying to tell the artist what to do.
“Leave me alone; don’t want your promises no more
‘Cos rock and roll is my religion and my law”
The bass line is hypnotic and sets the tone for RR to colour and decorate a song about moving mountains with the power of belief. And there are some good lyrical lines from Daisley.
“Watching time go and feeling belief grow, Rise above the obstacles”
“You’ve got to believe in yourself, Or no one will believe in you”
“Their disbelief suppresses them, But they’re not blind, It’s just that they won’t see”
It’s a track that belongs on an Alice Cooper album of the seventies, like “Billion Dollar Babies”.
Musically, it’s a derivative version of “Suicide Solution” in the main riff, a pre-chorus that sounds the same from “Over The Mountain”, a chorus section that sounds like it belongs on an ELO album and a bridge section ripped from “I Don’t Know”.
Randy Rhoads did say in an interview that this song felt rush or the solo felt rushed (like he had to do it in one take). Whatever the case, this is probably the least known songs from the Randy era with Ozzy.
“The pins and needles prick the skin of little dolls”
This song has two killer leads; the usual middle solo section and the outro solo.
“I hear the questions surface in my mind, of my mistakes that I have made
Times and places I have left behind and am I ever gonna make the grade?”
Daisley’s bass playing is also unique. It’s like a lead instrument over the arpeggios and piano lines.
Is the song, the initials of Ozzy’s two love interests at the time?
As good as the song is it’s the solo section that takes the song out of the stratosphere.
First, it’s over a 12/8 shuffle used more in the Blues genre (which Zakk Wyle used again in “Perry Mason” and it’s got all of Randy’s trademarks, from how he starts it off in the E Major Pentatonic scale and then he shifts into the C#m Aeolian scale which allows the listener to still believe it’s in E major, however RR has shifted diatonically to C#m.
It’s well known RR was no stranger to music theory, but he was one of those few individuals that put much of what he studied into practice.
Wind is high, so am I, as the shore sinks in the distance
Dreams unfold, seek the gold, gold that’s brighter than the sunlight
Diary Of A Madman
It’s a prog metal tune before prog metal became a term and a giant leap forward in composition and technicality.
“Diary of a madman, walk the line again today
Entries of confusion, dear diary, I’m here to stay”
At a high level, it is experimental music. The whole song is like a Randy Rhoads master class. Stand out sections is the whole intro section up to the first verse, and the heavy distorted riff before the dissonant solo break.
Bob Daisley wrote lyrics that referenced his own life.
“Enemies fill up the pages, are they me”
Daisley and Kerslake did not get any credit for having played on the album. On the sleeve, Rudy Sarzo is credited as playing bass and Tommy Aldridge is credited as drummer, however both people have come out and said that they didn’t play a note on the album.
13 years after its release it crossed the 3 million sale mark in the U.S. It took its time but all great things do take time to rise.
“A sickened mind and spirit, The mirror tells me lies, Could I mistake myself for someone, Who lives behind my eyes?”