Ozzy Osbourne “No More Tears” Power Comes In Layers

Should we call it a talent, the ability to attract exceptional collaborators?
I think we should.
Ozzy Osbourne has a knack of attracting high-caliber collaborators. They go on to establish themselves as top-tier talent in the rock/metal domain. The major reason must be Ozzy’s status as the vocalist of Black Sabbath. But that alone can’t be the reason why he is able to create such an illustrious career as a solo act as well. He is doing something right in terms of surrounding himself with the right people.
The synergy of his collaborators is evident on “No More Tears,” the title track from the album of same name from 1991. Let’s dig in to see what makes this song so special.

The Bass Is The Star

The riff being the foundation of a hard rock song is no surprise. There are a couple of uncommon approaches with the main riff. First, it’s played by bass, and second, it’s played only by bass.
Guitar players tend to do much of the writing in metal / hard rock. But likes of Steve Harris, Glenn Hughes, and Lemmy Kilmister prove it doesn’t have to be the case. Having a distinct, memorable riff in the rhythm section (bass and drums) is a best practice in my book. Having catchy, memorable parts in the foundation of a song contributes much toward making the whole song interesting.

Don’t Double It

On top of that, the fact that the guitar never joins the bass in playing the main riff is rather unusual. Many times in rock the guitar and bass end up playing the main riff together. While this convention works, artists should challenge and deviate from this formula more often. Having different instruments play different parts creates a bigger, richer sound. When guitar and bass don’t double all the time, it becomes more meaningful when they finally do.

Contrasting Middle Section

After going through the verse and chorus twice, the song gets to the bridge section. Except, this bridge is not what you’d expect in a rock vocalist solo project. First, it goes into Beatles-esque psychedelic detour. From there it builds to a climactic guitar solo which is a great showcase for his (at the time) new protégé, Zakk Wylde. The whole bridge is entirely instrumental, and is a major departure from what came before.
When the song expertly returns to the 3rd verse, it sounds welcome and fresh again. It’s because the middle section created a dramatic contrast. It gave your ears a break from the main material. If the middle section was any less of a departure, the main riff may have sounded more tired by this point.

Ending with a Twist

Speaking of the main riff becoming tiring, the production / arranging team may have sensed that danger. Because the ending doesn’t return to the main riff. Instead it dwells on a variation of the riff that concludes the choruses. The rhythmic twists changes where the strong and weak beats fall, creating a disorienting feel.

Instruments Like Characters

The bass gets to be the song’s most catchy part. And it delivers the hook with relatively clean presentation. It could have made more of a statement with fuzzed up or flanged tone, but it seems content being understated. I can picture it as the foot soldiers guarding the gates to a castle.
Then the majestic keyboards are like mages and wizards. It conjures heroism to rally the troops in the main section. But in the bridge it goes cheekily orchestral, revealing that we are really listening to a melodrama.
Which leaves the guitar to be the muscle. It’s like a mighty warrior that brings down the war hammer at the most opportune moments.
With all that thick layering going all over the place, the drums stick to being a spare container for the rest. It sticks to basics and leaves plenty of space between notes for other layers to fill in.

Delivering the Ozzy Experience

Ozzy’s vocal melody leisurely floats above all the complexity beneath. He is someone who has a distinct persona and doesn’t deviate far from it. The melodies here may not necessarily knock your socks off if, say, you played it on violin.
The lyrics are not particularly strong, either. Lyrics doesn’t have to make cohesive sense, but good ones still intrigue or express something. This hints at the lunacy and psychedelia that sort of matches the drama in the music. But the words are carried, rather than carry, by the band.
But what it does in spades is to act as the delivery vehicle for Ozzy the psychedelic. He specializes in long lines that gently arch, where he can slowly deliver his unsophisticated words with snide grin. His persona is so well defined that no one else can really deliver Ozzy like Ozzy can. That may sound obvious but is not at all common. Only select few frontmen and women have stage persona so distinct that it’s unduplicatable.
Extended middle section notwithstanding, the song functions perfectly as the Ozzy’s throne.

What I Get Out of This Song

I didn’t grow up a Black Sabbath or Ozzy Osbourne fan. Ozzy isn’t someone I particularly relate to. If this was a song I was involved in writing, I’d go a different direction with the lyrics. The phrase “No More Tears” have potential to really say something, even if it’s not to be an overtly uplifting or dark song.
The mix is of its time as well, though it’s aging fairly well. I would reduce the reverb in some parts, particularly the guitar. So that it can be more of a gut punch. Having some parts drier and others drenched in reverb create more three-dimensional mix. Some parts can be in-your-face close while others beckon from far away.
All that said, this song works very well for me on a couple of levels. The combination of keyboards’ valiant chords and guitars brutal slashing hit my sweet spot. I also look forward to the journey that is the bridge. And don’t even get me started on the guitar solo. It goes from slow and epic to savage and wild, building to a brilliant climax.


I don’t know what his extent of involvement is in the arranging and production. Hands-on or not, he assembled a stellar supporting cast and cooked up a dense but lavishly tasty soup. Off-stage he can come across as irrelevant and incoherent, even. But no team can deliver anything of quality without a capable leader leading the charge. Perhaps Ozzy’s talent is in assembling a powerful supporting cast, give them big room to do what they do, and somehow still make them all serve who he is.
Photo Credit: Albert Cabello