Billy Idol – ‘Vital Idol’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

Mid-way through the tour for Whiplash Smile, there was a new head at Chrysalis Records named Mike Bone.  He wanted to immediately make his mark with Billy and suggested putting a compilation together of Remixed songs along with a live version of “Mony Mony”.  Billy was on board and while on tour, they recorded the live version, slapped a bunch of remixes together and bam…you had an album.

All this above was from Billy’s book, ‘Dancing With Myself’, but doesn’t make sense to me.  As the time in the book was around 86/87 and this compilation had already been released in 1985 in the UK.  In September 1987, ‘Vital Idol’ was released in the US.  Plus, my version doesn’t have a “Live” version of “Mony Mony”.  At least it doesn’t sound live.  Not sure Billy’s memory was correct in the order of things as the book doesn’t mention the UK version and the live take of “Mony, Mony” was on the greatest hits collection that came out in 1988 not the 1987 version of Vital Idol.  Sorry, not completely true as a 1988 Japanese version of Vital Idol does have the live version.  Confusing.

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The UK and US version also differed ever so slightly.  The UK version had one less song and the track order was different.  The US version had a remix of a track off Whiplash Smile which the UK version was out before that album was even released so it wouldn’t have it.

UK Track Listing (1985):

  1. White Wedding (Parts I & II) – Shotgun Mix
  2. Dancing With Myself – Uptown Mix
  3. Flesh for Fantasy – Below the Belt Mix
  4. Catch My Fall – Remix Fix
  5. Mony Mony – Downtown Mix
  6. Love Calling – Rub a Dub Dub Mix
  7. Hot in the City – Exterminator Mix

US Track Listing (1987):

  1. White Wedding (Parts I & II) – Shotgun Mix
  2. Mony Mony – Downtown Mix
  3. Hot in the City – Exterminator Mix
  4. Dancing With Myself – Uptown Mix
  5. Flesh for Fantasy – Below the Belt Mix
  6. To Be A Love – Mother of Mercy Mix
  7. Love Calling – Rub A Dub Dub Mix
  8. Catch My Fall – Remix Fix

As a compilation album, it isn’t really a greatest hits album as it is missing a few key classic Idol songs, but it does make for a fun dance album and it gives you some interesting take on some already great songs.

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SIDE A

The album kicks off with “White Wedding” (Parts I & II).  Part I was on the debut album, Billy Idol, but up until this point you haven’t heard Part II.  Part I is mostly the same version of the original, but Part II is quite different.  It is a little long and drawn out and doesn’t really add much to the song, but time as the song is over 8 minutes.  The song still kicks ass, just too long.

“Mony Mony” (Downtown Mix) really beefs up the song and adds more color and production and really gives the song a boost that was missing on the ‘Don’t Stop’ E.P.  This is one of the few on the album that might be better than the original. However, it is not a LIVE VERSION!!

This version is my album version…

This is the live version often credited with Vital Idol…not on my album though…

“Hot in the City” (Exterminator Mix) is a fun, remix.  For me, it isn’t as good as the original as it leaves a couple things out, most notably the “New York” scream by Billy.  However, it is still worth having and fits nicely in this context.  One of the better ones on the album.

Lastly on Side A is “Dancing With Myself” (Uptown Mix).  This is one of my favorite Idol songs to begin with and this mix finally takes the song to a level where the public takes notice and the song finally becomes a hit for Billy.

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SIDE B

“Flesh For Fantasy” (Below the Belt Mix) kicks off Side B and kicks it off with a band.  I truly love this version of the song.  I don’t know if I like it better or equally as much.  It really emphasizes the guitar and definitely makes the bass line notable.  A solid all around remix.

“To Be A Lover” (Mother of Mercy Mix) is up next and this should be called the Sex Mix with the woman practically orgasming with her sultry, seductive voice throughout.  Damn!!  I dig this mix as well.  A total blast.

Then you get to  “Love Calling” (Rub a Dub Dub Mix) and you don’t get much on the vocals, but a lot of Rub a Dub Dub’s.  Where the other versions enhanced the original, this one didn’t add anything for me.  This one has its moments, but is lacking a lot for me.

And to finish off the set you have “Catch My Fall” (Remix Fix).  This one really changes up the original and not in a bad way.  Very techno and a lot of fun.  I swear part of sounded like Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” towards the beginning when the electronic drum beats come in.  To completely change up a song and still make it good and the original song noticeable is a hard thing to do, but they nailed it.

Since I originally wrote this review, I came across the 1985 version when I was in Paris.  It was from 1985 and had the one less song from the US version in 1987.  The cover is definitely different and the copy I have is the German/French edition.  Here are the pictures…

And there you have it.  I would say the Track Listing Score is a 7 out 8 or 87.5% as “Love Calling” was the only one I couldn’t get completely in to.  Now the overall album score for production and enjoyment is a 3.9 out of 5.0 Stars.  Not all the songs are perfect, but the album is a lot of fun, very creative and I still enjoy it today as much as I did when I had this on CD back in 1987.  Definitely worth having since it is not your typical compilation album.

If you want to check out the other reviews I have done so far for the Billy Idol Series, click the links below:

  1. Generation X – ‘Generation X’
  2. Generation X – ‘Valley of the Dolls’
  3. Gen X – ‘Kiss Me Deadly’
  4. Generation X – ‘The BBC Transcription Disc Series No. 126 1978’
  5. Billy Idol – Don’t Stop E.P.
  6. Billy Idol – Billy Idol
  7. Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
  8. Billy Idol – Whiplash Smile
  9. Billy Idol – Vital Idol
  10. Billy Idol – Charmed Life
  11. Billy Idol – Cyberpunk
  12. Billy Idol – “Speed” (song from the Speed Soundtrack)
  13. Generation X – K.M.D. Sweet Revenge
  14. Billy Idol – VH1 Storytellers (Live)
  15. Billy Idol – Devil’s Playground
  16. Billy Idol – Happy Holidays
  17. Billy Idol – The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself
  18. Billy Idol – Kings & Queens of the Underground
  19. Billy Idol – BFI Live (#RSD 2019)
  20. Billy Idol – Revitalized
  21. Generation X – Your Generation (7″ Record Store Day Release)
  22. Billy Idol – The Albums Ranked From Worst to First

Up next will be Billy Idol’s ‘Charmed Life’.

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24 thoughts on “Billy Idol – ‘Vital Idol’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

  1. You know its the 80’s when you get the Rub a Dub Dub Mix haha
    Cool stuff John. Smart marketing move at the time. Cash it in but make it a crossover comp into the dance market!

    Liked by 1 person

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