The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/24/2008
Billy Idol's Idolize Yourself is an 18 track hits package that encapsulates not just the highly successful career of an innovative songster, but of a big chunk of the eclectic 80s. Billy found a unique niche with his hard-hitting, punk-flavored new wave. He rocked hard enough on tracks like "White Wedding" and "Rebel Yell" to attract the rockers on one hand, largely thanks to right-hand man and guitarist Steve Stevens. On the other hand, his more mercurial, synth-based songs like “Eyes Without A Face” and “Catch My Fall” appealed to the new wave fans. So, Billy tried to give a little something for everyone, and was rewarded with about a decade of incredible success.
I was pretty pleased when the upcoming hits package from the snarling one came across my desk. I was never an outright fan, I own none of his albums, but his singles had always appealed to me, and I've been known to crank up his songs when they come on the radio. Billy has great instincts as a singer, and a pretty decent voice as well. The attitude and charisma that were such a big part of his appeal come through in his music as well as they did from his omnipresent MTV videos (more on those shortly).
The disc is chronological (as most compilations of this kind should be) and I had a blast listening to the string of really excellent songs he cranked out during the first 10 years of his career. I was especially pleased to rediscover a couple of largely overlooked tracks, “Forgot To Be A Lover” with its honky tonk piano and Motown-style hot girl chorus was a nice blast from the past. “Don't Need A Gun,” and “Sweet Sixteen” are two other gems I had all but forgotten about.
Billy's ride sadly didn't last forever. The collapse of the Idol Empire begins just after his clunky cover of The Doors’ "L.A. Woman." From this point on Idol is just trying to fight the current of fickle popular appeal and never quite manages to make it to shore. Fortunately the early three-fourths of his career provide enough worthy songs for this collection.
The Deluxe Edition of this album includes a DVD of 13 of Billy's videos. The DVD is a nice addition to the package, as a huge part of Idol's success was his massive exposure on MTV, so it's natural to compile the videos that were in part responsible for his success. His videos were way ahead of most of the competition both technically and stylistically, largely in part because of the forward-seeing eye of director David Mallet, who was responsible for many seminal music videos including David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" and Queen's "
I love this disc. It delivers exactly what I expect from a greatest hits package.