At the record show here in Charlotte back in May of 2022, I found a Generation X album on vinyl I didn’t know existed. It is ‘Demos 1977’ and was actually only released back in 2020 and with Covid going on, probably the reason I missed it. It is also a German release which adds to why I didn’t see it. It says these demos were recorded back in 1977 on February 16th presumable for Chiswick Records. The band at the time was Billy Idol, Tony James, Bob ‘Derwood’ Andrews and John Towe and the demos were recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in Wembley, North London.
Here’s the problem I have with this saying these are the demos for Chiswick Records. They actually only recorded 5 songs for Chiswick and there are 13 songs here. Plus only 4 of those 5 are on this recording. The other 9 songs are from other recording sessions between 1977 and 1980 I believe based on the songs.
The first four songs on the album appear to be the Chiswick demos, but it is missing “Kleenex” which is a shame as that is a great one to have as it has different lyrics than the final product for the debut album. It kicks off with “Your Generation” which would’ve been their first single they released independently with the original pressing only 250 copies and later they would go back and do another 500. The B-Side of that single was “Listen” also from these sessions. “Listen” would wind up on the debut album, however, it was omitted from the U.S. release of the album and “Your Generation” take its place as it did not make it on the UK debut.
The next Chiswick demo was “Save My Life” which was also not on the debut album. In fact, I don’t have that on any of their releases so this is the main reason this set is in my collection. When you listen to this one, it sounds like a demo. It is rough, raw and not great production quality which leads me to believe the first two songs “Your Generation” and “Listen” aren’t the actual demos as they are so perfect and clean. “Save My Life” has some great guitar playing on here by Andrews and has a great punk energy.
“Ready Steady Go” is the final demo from the Chiswick sessions and the song had some great melodies and that Billy Idol style we would soon come to know with his solo work was in full effect. A great little guitar solo and drums hammering home their punk roots. The song was a huge shout-out to the 60’s rock scene and even the title is a call out to an old British TV show from that time period. The final version is of course cleaner and a few lyrics changes but the essence is the same.
“Day By Day” is off the debut and although a little repetitive at times for me, it still packs all the attitude. The one thing going for this song is Derwood’s guitar work which seems to be something I focus on more and more when listening to Generation X. This demo sounds pretty good even if a little rough around the edges at times. The final track on Side 1 is “Wild Youth” which this version doesn’t really have any verses only a chorus. Musically it is fantastic and all ready to go, just needs some lyrics to it. Again, more great guitar work!!
Side 2 kicks off with “No No No” which was the B-Side to “Ready Steady Go” on the debut (but not on the album). Derwood’s guitar riffs kick off the song. It is 2 minutes full of speed and youth angst. The cool thing with the final version is it ends with a little Elvis shout out and I am sure Billy had the snear going. But here, the demo has an abrupt ending and no Elvis shout out.
“Untouchables” is a big jump in years. This song was originally on their third album ‘Kiss Me Deadly’. It has a great little chorus and a cool groove as well as some nice guitar work. The song is about daydreaming about being a rock star and who hasn’t done that before. The song definitely isn’t fully flushed out here as lyrics aren’t quite done, but musically it is there.
“What Do You Want” reminds of the band’s earlier work and I really dig it. Again, this is from ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and has some great guitar riff and solo which sounds super weird on this demo (final is great). The demo is a little soft as the final song is full of attitude and smokes. Still cool as a demo.
Then we get “Rock On” which is one of my favorites on here. This isn’t on any album and it is a rocking song that seems to be unbridled and out of control. Really cool stuff. On the deluxe box set of the debut, there is a Dub Mix of this song, but this ain’t it. This is an earlier version I believe and totally awesome.
Then we get “New Order” which is one I don’t have in any version on any release (so far). It isn’t as rowdy as some as the tempo is a little toned down. Again, more great guitar work and Billy sounds really young so not sure when this was recorded. Another reason you need this in the collection.
Then we get an early version of “Dancing with Myself” which became one of Billy’s biggest hits when he released it as a solo song. This was on Gen X’s third album ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and I have a lot of versions of this one. You know, you love it and this demo version is really cool and almost complete.
Lastly, we get “Triumph” which is also from ‘Kiss Me Deadly’. This demo is only missing a few of the finer production qualities of the final version. This one is little less on production value. The energy isn’t as revved up, but still a great track and nice to have a demo of it.
I have to say, despite it not being all the 1977 demos for Chiswick, it is still great to have all these demos from the first and third albums. Not sure why no demos from ‘Valley of the Dolls’ maybe some day we will get those. It is also great because I don’t have all these versions in my collection and now I do. Overall, the sound is fantastic for what it is and I thoroughly enjoyed every listen. It is like a mini greatest hits album but in demo form. You gotta love that. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as I have to ding it a little for not including “Kleenex”.
THE BILLY IDOL SERIES:
- Generation X – ‘Generation X’
- Generation X – ‘Valley of the Dolls’
- Gen X – ‘Kiss Me Deadly’
- Gen X – “Dancing With Myself” 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Generation X – ‘The BBC Transcription Disc Series No. 126 1978’ (Bootleg)
- Billy Idol – Don’t Stop E.P.
- Billy Idol – Billy Idol
- Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
- Billy Idol – “Eyes Without A Face” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
- Billy Idol – “Eyes Without A Face” – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Billy Idol – Whiplash Smile
- Billy Idol – “Sweet Sixteen” – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Billy Idol – To Be A Lover – Single Review
- Billy Idol – Vital Idol
- Billy Idol – “Hot In the City” – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Billy Idol – “Mony Mony Live” – 12″ Maxi-Single (Bonus Edition)
- Billy Idol – Charmed Life
- Billy Idol – “Cradle of Love” – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Billy Idol – Cyberpunk
- Billy Idol – “Speed” (song from the Speed Soundtrack)
- Generation X – K.M.D. Sweet Revenge
- Billy Idol – VH1 Storytellers (Live)
- Billy Idol – Devil’s Playground
- Billy Idol – Happy Holidays
- Billy Idol – The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself
- Billy Idol – Kings & Queens of the Underground
- Billy Idol – BFI Live (#RSD 2019)
- Billy Idol – Revitalized
- Generation X – Your Generation (7″ Record Store Day Release)
- Generation X – Generation X Deluxe Edition
- Billy Idol – Rebel Waltz: Live (Bootleg)
- Billy Idol – Rebel Calling: Live (Bootleg)
- Generation X – ‘Demos 1977’ (Bootleg)
- Billy Idol – The Roadside E.P.
- Billy Idol – The Albums Ranked From Worst to First