Billy Idol

Billy Idol

Chrysalis, 1982

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Shedding his Generation X skin (not to mention the longwinded name of William Michael Albert Broad) for a dazzling solo career, Billy Idol wastes no time in making an impression. As the song goes, “It’s a nice day, to start again.” From a visual standpoint, the first thing you notice is the Elvis snarl. Then you notice the platinum blond spiky hair and the fact that he has a penchant for leather. This is danger in its purest form, which undoubtedly set many a parent’s teeth on edge when he was unleashed on the public in 1982. Keep your teenage daughters safe at home and don’t let them out of your sight, because this bad boy’s clearly coming for ‘em!

Taking a tip from his fellow punk co-patriots from Britain, the Sex Pistols, adding a bit of Vegas pomposity and Presley swagger to the mix and what you have is a man on the prowl for stardom. He’s one of the 80’s greats you remember, owing a huge debt to MTV’s image factory. George Michael may have had the voice and Michael Jackson the billion selling albums, but only Billy Idol had the devil-may-care, rock ‘n roll attitude. Prince would arguably equal Idol’s intensity level, especially when it came to live performance. But Billy Idol never had to change his name, did he? my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Throughout his long career, he has stayed true to his own formula and his self-titled debut is the gold-standard blueprint. Kicking the walls down is the defiant first cut, “Come On Come On,” a sonic temper tantrum, if there ever was one. Then there are the hit singles, the Steve Stevens guitar stab of “White Wedding” and the ever-seductive “Hot In The City.” There’s also the familiar tribal-inspired “Love Calling” that would feature on the Vital Idol compilation, as well as the Generation X staple “Dancing With Myself,” which will have you doing exactly that in every room in your house.

Only later would Idol take himself less seriously, all but spoofing himself in the 1997 film The Wedding Singer. He always was like a cartoon character, when you really stop and think about it. That’s the fun thing about looking back at rock ‘n’ roll and the over-the-top theatrics of acts like the Ramones, KISS and Alice Cooper, or the endless array of hair metal bands from the ‘80s such as Poison or Guns ‘N Roses. Gene Simmons himself has even stated that rock ‘n roll is dead recently, referring to the fact that only hardcore fans revere that type of music anymore. There was a time and place for all the gimmickry and it sure ain’t now. We’ll just have to wait until that wave cycles back again, as it always does eventually.

And wouldn’t you know, there’s even a theme song on Billy Idol to dedicate to the end of rock and roll as we once knew it, “Dead On Arrival.” There really aren’t any bum notes on this debut, though “Nobody’s Business” is fairly lacking in the lyrical department. For the prurient set, there’s “Hole In The Wall” and the curiously percolating ode to heroin “Shooting Stars.” Slowing it down nicely is “It’s So Cruel,” which paves the way for future ballads “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Eyes Without A Face.” All in all, not a bad way to make a mark as a real bad boy.

Rating: A-

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© 2014 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Chrysalis, and is used for informational purposes only.