It's Only Rock 'n' Roll

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Sept. 25, 2002 at 5:09 PM
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Picture Ozzy Osbourne's songs done by a finger-snapping hipster crooning "Iron Man" and "Sweet Leaf" to the backing of bongo drums, a walking bass line and bluesy organ and vibes fills. Got it? You're looking at comic lounge singer Bud E. Luv with his new act, "Diary of a Loungeman," taking Ozzy's catalog into the realm of Frankie Laine.

To hear Bud caress the line "People think I'm insane because I am frowning all the time," is a real lesson in postmodernism.

The joke is not new -- we've already had Pat Boone's groundbreaking "In a Metal Mood" a few years ago, and sometimes deliberately Bud oversells the humor only to be re-inspired by a chorus like "flying high again."

"I love what (Ozzy's) trying to do with the rock beat," said Bud, "Sure, he's a little dark at times but, let's face it, the cat swings the most."

It's apparent that Luv's tongue is firmly in cheek when you check out his book, "You Oughta Be Me, How To Be A Lounge Singer and Live Like One," and his usual targets are the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones. But in the newly-popular TV dad of "The Osbournes" Luv found his ultimate subject.

"To be honest, I wasn't familiar with his work as I now know I should have been," said Luv, who will be doing the act Oct. 4 at Bimbo's in San Francisco.

Luv's interpretations of Ozzy lyrics are particularly innovative.

"Obviously, Ozzy's affinity for working out has led him down the path to robust health," Luv said of "Iron Man," "but I'm not sure about the 'grave' reference. Shouldn't healthy exercise and good nutrition lead to longevity in terms of both career and life in general? I think he's made the right choices and the swing-bossa nova treatment really serves the tune beautifully."

As for "Paranoid," the title track of the 1971 Black Sabbath classic, Luv noted "Thanks to modern medicine, this is, nowadays, a treatable condition. I'm glad it wasn't back then or we wouldn't have this gorgeous song, would we?"

Another Sabbath selection, "War Pigs," reminded Luv of a Rat Pack reference.

"Despite what you may have heard, Sammy Davis Jr. didn't keep kosher," Luv revealed. "More than once, we enjoyed a fine honey baked ham together at my ranch. I don't see why we should begrudge Ozzy a chance to consume 'the other white meat.' I don't even think he's Jewish."

Luv selected "Flying High Again" from the 1981 Ozzy solo release, "Diary of a Madman."

"This is the waltz that Richard Strauss, were he alive today, would have written," said Luv. And of "Over The Mountain" from the same album, Luv mused: "Jack Jones said it best when we were at my lodge in Aspen, 'What the hell is this about?'

"Hey, I've always been down with the beatnik thing," added Luv by way of explanation for the cover of "Bark at the Moon" from the album of the same name.

"It's a little known fact that I'm a veteran of the coffee house circuit. I can wear a beret and a turtleneck if the existential spirit moves me. Like, dig, daddy-o."

Luv found his greatest wellspring of inspiration from the 1990 Ozzy solo release "Blizzard of Oz," choosing four songs from that set to cover.

"The lounge has a place for all musical genres and my open mindedness about country and western made this a natural," he said of "Blizzard's" "Goodbye to Romance." "I can't believe that my buddy Merle Haggard hasn't covered it by now."

Another "Blizzard" cut is a piece called "Mr. Crowley," who, according to Luv, was "a misunderstood man. As I heard it, he was actually a wonderful humanitarian and philanthropist."

"Crazy Train," "Blizzard's" best-known tune, needed a special arrangement.

"If any song ever lent itself to a cha-cha arrangement," said Luv, "it's this one. I dare you not to dance."

The controversial "Suicide Solution" is the other "Blizzard" track on the album.

"This one is kind of a paradox," Luv admitted. "Sure, the topic is kind of depressing but our groovy disco treatment is very life affirming and very, very now."

Another controversial tune, "Sweet Leaf," came from Black Sabbath's 1971 album "Master of Reality."

"Hey, I once had a pack a day Chesterfield habit but I kicked it," Luv boasted. "Ozzy, man, I know what you're going through. We did the song polka-style to suggest that if he's gonna smoke anything, why not a tasty kielbasa?"

Luv got philosophical with his ruminations on "Gets Me Through" from the 2001 "Down To Earth" album, the most recent Ozzy work he covers.

"I think Ozzy is really speaking for the entire industry and the important work we do in this business we know and love, called 'show,' when he says 'I try to entertain you the best I can ...' If you think about it, that's all any of us can do."

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