Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Ozzy and Elton together, oh my

Ozzy Osbourne (R) and Sir Elton John (L) attend the 23rd annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party on Feb. 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif. Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAF

The release schedule is still light on albums, so we’ll once again dig into some singles that are setting up new releases in the coming weeks.

Here’s what we’re listening to this week — and we’ll start with a doozy.

1. Ozzy Osbourne feat. Elton John, Ordinary Man

No, that’s not a typo nor are you hallucinating. The Prince of Darkness — who, by the way, is a pop fan at heart (he’ll talk about The Beatles for hours) — rang up Sir Elton John and asked him if he wouldn’t mind contributing to a new song. He loved the idea and ended up singing the second verse. The track, apparently autobiographical, also features two solos from Slash. Meanwhile, Sharon Osbourne says she can’t make it through the track without crying. This is the title track for Ozzy’s next album, due Feb. 21.

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2. Alicia Keys, Underdog

Not only is a new album entitled ALICIA (her seventh) coming later this year, but she’s also finished up her autobiography, More Myself: A Journey which is due in the spring. She worked on both projects at the same time, calling it “the best therapy I ever had.” Watch for her on the Grammys on Jan. 26.

3. Stone Temple Pilots, Three Wishes

This is the second taste of an all-acoustic album entitled Perdida (“loss” in Spanish) that’s due Feb. 7. Why would a grunge-era band go lite? Because, the band says, “[these are]10 deeply personal songs that weave introspective lyrics together with unexpected instruments to take listeners on an emotional and musical journey through letting go and starting over.” Gotcha. Perdida will be supported by a North American tour through February and March.
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4. Grey Daze, What’s in the Eye

There was a two-year period when Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington fronted Stone Temple Pilots. But if we rewind back to the 90s, he was the singer for an Arizona band called Grey Daze, a semi-grunge album which released two albums. The group fell apart after Chester bolted for LA but reunited in 2017 before he died. Now Grey Daze has a new album coming later this year and our amuse bouche is a revamped and re-recorded version — its third iteration — of What’s in the Eye which features a 17-year-old Chester on lead vocals.

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5. Kaleo, I Want More/Break My Baby

It’s been almost four years since this Icelandic band released A/B, an album that broke them worldwide. Album number three will appear sometime this year, but not before we get what we’d have called a “double-A” side back in the day. Both appeared with lyric videos, but we’re told that a couple of special animated films are coming between now and Feb. 7.

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Bonus Tracks:

London Calling: Bombay Bicycle Club, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

Several years ago, the BBC decided to pack it in, selling off all their equipment. All the members went on to do other things. For example, guitarist Jamie MacColl got degrees in both war studios and international relations. He then went on to work as an intelligence analyst in Washington DC before getting involved in the whole Brexit thing. Now, though, the band is back together. Must’ve been expensive finding new gear to make it happen.

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Undiscovered Gem: Neon Bloom, It’s a Crime

Part garage-rock, part synth-pop, Neon Bloom is anchored by singer Jen Simpson. She’s been very upfront about her battles with epilepsy, something that once saw her slip into up to six seizures a day. But thanks to the right meds, those seizures have been cut by 90%, This is a sort-of-new single, which first appeared on a 2018 EP entitled First Fever. It’s now been remixed into this form.

Throwback Track: U2, Numb

Twenty-three years ago this week, Bono and his family borrowed Jimmy Buffet’s seaplane for a quick trip to Jamaica. Upon landing, Jamaican police mistook the plane as one belonging to a drug smuggler and opened fire with live ammunition. No one was hurt, but Bono and his crew quickly bailed for Miami. This was around the time the Zooropa tour wrapped up, which featured this single. It’s one of only three songs in the entire U2 catalogue with The Edge on lead vocals.

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Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.

Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing History of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play

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