Billy Idol – The Albums Ranked Worst to First (The Billy Idol Series)

For the past 8 to 9 months, I have been reviewing the entire Billy Idol catalog from Generation X back in 1978 through his solo years and even a Generation X single released in 2019 on Record Store Day.  It has been such a fun journey and I hate it has come to an end.  To wrap it up, we are going to rank all the studio albums from his very worst (and it is bad) to his very best (which is sensational).

 

THE WORST – HAPPY HOLIDAYS (2006):

 

 

I am not sure what Billy was thinking, but this should have never been released and probably never recorded.  Hell, it is so bad that even Steve Stevens wasn’t involved with recording it.  That should tell you something right there!!  It is a rehash of classic Christmas songs that we are better off listening to the originals as these do not spark any Christmas cheer.

The original songs Billy wrote throw every cliche in the book out as lyrics and they are sappy, crappy songs.  The best thing about “Happy Holidays” is that it is only 2 minutes.  The only good thing about “Christmas Love” is that it does eventually end. My Christmas gift to you is to avoid this at any cost.

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Generation X – “Your Generation” 7″ Record Store Day Release – Single Review (The Billy Idol Series)

This is the last in the Billy Idol Series.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have in writing it.  There could be one more in the series if I get the Generation X Deluxe Set that was just released, but I have not grabbed a hold of yet.  When I get it, I will do a review of it, but for now, we will end the series with this beauty right here.  I started with a Generation X release and I will end with one as well.

For Record Store Day 2019, Generation X released a special 7″ Single of the band’s debut song “Your Generation”.  The song is not the original version, but the Winstanley Mix which is done in conjunction with the release of a Deluxe Edition of the band’s debut album.  This remix is not on the box set, but in addition to and a must grab for Generation X fans.

The original song was released as a single in 1977, however, it did not show up on the debut album.  It wasn’t until the 2002 re-issue of the debut that this song saw new light.  The B-Side of this single  is “Trying for Kicks” which was also on the 2002 re-issue and not used for the original album.

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The 7″ Single release was on red vinyl and is absolutely beautiful and a nice add to the collection.

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

We are to the final studio album released in our Billy Idol Series which means we are really close to the end of the series which makes me a little sad as I have enjoyed doing this series.  The next album up for review is a  remix album of Billy’s hits called ‘Revitalized’ which was released in September 2018 and is 31 years after the release of his first remix album called ‘Vital Idol’.

Billy’s songs are brought into the 21st century with remixes coming from some of the best EDM artist of 2018 including Paul Oakenfold, Moby, The Crystal Method, CRAY and many more.  The original album has 11 tracks where the digital version gives you an additional 4 tracks for 15 songs total.

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I guess I will preface this by saying the album is full of hits songs and the remixes are all worth a listen, but nothing beats the original songs and actually nothing is better than Vital Idol.  These songs are good and give us a look at them in a new, modern light.  For fans it is fun and a must have for the collection; however, nothing groundbreaking here like Vital Idol was.

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Billy Idol – “BFI Live” – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

On November 25th, 2016, Black Friday or another Record Store Day, Billy Idol released a special edition 3 LP vinyl Live Album!!  The release were highlights from his 2014-2015 Kings & Queens of the Underground Tour.  I say it is highlights because the songs are from various different shows from around the world and not one full show.  I am sure he went and grabbed the best versions of each song.

The album was limited to only 2000 copies, each hand-numbered and exclusively on vinyl as the only physical release. The album is available digitally as well (which also comes with the Vinyl version.  It is a beautiful set and the sound is amazing.  Here’s the only problem.  I was unable to snag a copy during its initial release.  I am keeping a watchful eye on eBay and Discogs to find a reasonably priced one for sell and then I will grab it.  So, this review is really just a review of the digital release.

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BFI?  What does that stand for?  I think it is Billy “Fucking” Idol.  I also think BFI is the name of his label as well.  Whatever it stands for, BFI Live is fantastic.  The sound quality of each recording is crisp, clear and loud!  Was it cleaned up in the studio…probably, but who cares.  It is still live for the most part and that is all that matters.  It captures the essence fo a Billy performance and that is all you really want anyway.  Okay, I guess it is missing a little of the roughness that happens during live shows so that might be the only negative.

The release has 16 tracks from 10 different cities including Houston, Vienna, Munich, Atlanta and even Council Bluffs (wherever that is).  The setlist is greatest hits set live basically.  It is everything you would want to hear and expect to hear at a Billy show.

He does 3 songs off the latest album and they are “Postcards from the Past”, “Can’t Break Me Down” and “Save Me Now”.  Two of the first three songs are off the new album which is smart as people tend to go to the bathroom or get a beer (or both) when a song comes on they don’t really know.  When the show opens up, the crowd is so energized, that isn’t going to happen.

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It is a high energy show and Billy and Steve Steven show no signs of slowing down.  The songs are kept pretty much to their original format with the exception of a few lyric changes such as “LA Woman” (the Doors cover) being changed to “Portland Woman” and Billy asking “Nashville to Dance” on “Dancing With Myself”.  Billy and the crowd seem to be having a wonderful time.

Steve Stevens sounds really great with his guitar work especially on Flesh for Fantasy and the one song I didn’t know when looking at the track listing. It was “Dementia” which turned out to be a wonderful Steve Stevens guitar solo.  I didn’t know guitar solos actually had names other than “Guitar Solo”. Seriously though, the song is actually off Steve’s solo album “Flamenco a Go-Go” from 2000.  Kinda nice Billy let him highlight one of his own songs.

The songs cover most of Billy’s career with even a song from his Generation X days, “Ready Steady Go” which Billy seems to love to still play and Steve adds a whole new magic to it with his playing.  You also get the story behind the song “Sweet Sixteen” which Billy tells with such enthusiasm.  Before that story, a woman screams “I Love You!!!” and immediately Billy responds back “I Love Me Too!  That makes two of us”…it was a very funny moment I am glad they left in.

And let’s talk about how he ends this album.  The album ends with 3 of his most iconic songs and I could imagine the crowd going nuts and loving everything about it.  He ends with “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding” and “Mony, Mony”…what an amazing way to go out.

All-in-all, this is a hell of a live set and since Billy has only released one other live album (VH1 Storytellers), I will take what I can get.  I loved this set and I am eager to go out and find the physical copy after listening to this.  With 16 songs and 1 hour and 40 minutes of music…it is simply wonderful.  I will give this a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars and only deducting because it is too clean…I mean I don’t think Billy misses too many notes and I don’t think that is possible (I have never seen him live so can’t say for sure).  If you are out and about and come across it (somehow), grab it.  You won’t be disappointed.

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 ‘Revitalized’.

Billy Idol – ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

After Billy’s last greatest hits album “Idolize Yourself”, things went quiet.  From 2010 – 2014, Billy worked on the next project.  Along that same timeframe, he was also working on a book that chronicle his life called “Dancing with MySelf”.  The album and book were both released in October 2014 and I guess you could say the album was a soundtrack to that new book.

For me, the album, called ‘King & Queens of the Underground’, should have been called ‘Postcards from the Past’ as the songs seem to have that retrospective feel and were snapshots of his life and career.  There is a lot of soul-searching going and it feels like a cathartic exercise in releasing his demons.  It was the perfect companion piece for the book.

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For the recording of the album, Billy worked mostly with Trevor Horn of the famed band, The Buggles.  Keith Forsey, who produced most of Billy’s album was not back for this one.  I don’t think there were any issues, I believe Billy was wanting to explore new ground.  Trevor brought Billy back to 80’s sound more so than the ‘Devil’s Playground’ did.  There were a little more synthesizers/keyboards than in the past and it was utilized perfectly.

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Billy Idol – ‘The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

I wasn’t going to do any greatest hits, but with this one I changed my mind.  Billy has only had a handful of official greatest hits packages and although they cover the hits, none are really that great.  So, I thought I would help your search and give you what I think might the best of the greatest hits albums he has released.

The one I think is the best is the 2008 release, ‘The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself’.  It isn’t that much different than the 2001 release simply titled ‘Greatest Hits’. In fact, there are 14 songs that are the same and almost the exact track list order.  With the “Greatest Hits’ package from 2001, you get a live version of “Rebel Yell” and the Simple Minds cover of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” which is a really good cover.  Those two are great to have, no doubt.  However, I do prefer the ‘Idolize Yourself’ version better.

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Why do I like this version better than the prior release?  There are actually 5 reasons.

First: It is the most current, so you get a song from “Devil’s Playground called “World Comin’ Down”.  The song is an uptempo rocker about the troubles in the world and the pressures you feel as a result.  It is a song that gets you moving and with Steve Stephen’s speedy guitar riffs and Brian Tichy’s heart-pounding drums you never catch your breath.

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Billy Idol – ‘Happy Holidays’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

A short time after Billy’s comeback release, ‘Devil’s Playground’, he thought (or somebody thought), we should release a Christmas Album.  I don’t know if it was because of the positive feedback for the Christmas song on the last album “Yellin’ at the Xmas Tree” or drugs, but they decided to do it.

Now, “Yellin’ at the Xmas Tree” is absolutely fantastic. It is a rocking Idol song and I love the twist on the song that it is not all happy and joyful at Christmas. Some people don’t have the stereotypical Yuletide joy.

This album is nothing like that.  It is Billy putting on his dinner jacket, pouring himself a drink and playing traditional Christmas songs in both a traditional or even a smoke-filled room jazz style.

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The album is full of songs you know and love (well, the original versions you love) and it even has two brand new songs written by Billy…oh joy!!  I know…you can feel my excitement.  I am sorry…I will be completely honest with you.  I HATE CHRISTMAS ALBUMS!!!  That isn’t entirely true.  If you want to do a compilation Christmas albums with different artists singing the best versions of Christmas songs…I am all for it.  If it s one Singer or one Band doing a whole entire 40 minute album of them doing Christmas Songs..,please count me out!!!

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Billy Idol – ‘Devil’s Playground’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

On March 22, 2005, Billy Idol returns to music with his first album of new material in over 12 years.  Way too long in my book.  While on tour prior to the album, Billy was approached by Sanctuary Records to record an album.  The trick was that they wanted it in the old Billy style and sound.

As a result, Billy, Steve Stevens and producer Keith Forsey re-teamed to record the album. Yep, the gang was back together and I couldn’t be more happy.  Along for the ride was Stephen McGrath on bass, Derek Sherinian on keyboards and Brian Tichy on drums.  Not a bad line-up.

Of course, Steve and Billy had some songs together.  However, it was only 3 songs for Steve.  Billy did most of his writing with drummer Brian Tichy who had 8 writing credits on the album.  Of course, Billy had to have a cover song and the album checks that bucket as well.  All was now in place.

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Billy Idol – ‘VH1 Storytellers’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

For the last half of the 90’s, Billy didn’t release anything.  After the failure of the ‘Cyberpunk’ album (which was awesome) and the issues with the label, Billy sort of vanished from the music scene.  He did have the single for the movie “Speed”, he made a memorable cameo in the movie ‘The Wedding Singer’, but outside of that, there wasn’t much else.

In 2001, that started to change.  VH1 aired a ‘Behind the Music’ on Billy and a greatest hits compilation was released that had a cover of Simple Mind’s song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” which had moderate success.  Heck, the greatest hits album sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. alone.  VH1 also decided to film a VH1 Storytellers with Billy and along for ride was Steve Stevens which was a reunion that was long overdue.

I am not going to critique the VH1 Storytellers show, but the CD that was released.  The CD came out on February 22, 2002 and is only the songs that were played and not any of the stories.  For that, you need the DVD.

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Generation X – ‘K.M.D. Sweet Revenge’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

After the release of Generation X’s second album, “Valley of the Dolls”, the band started recording the follow-up release.  However, during the recording the band started having some creative issues with each other. The album was demoed, but never finished before the band broke-up.  Billy Idol and Tony James decided to continue on and they rebranded themselves as Gen X.  They released ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ in 1980 to little or moderate success.  So, the 3rd Generation X album never saw the light of day.

Well, it never saw the light of day until 1998 when former Generation X guitarist Derwood Andrews released it due to some contract obligations without the consent of Billy Idol and Tony James.  Billy & Tony were able to block the release in the U.S., but not anywhere else.  The songs were in demo form and not fully realized tracks.

Now in 2003, Billy finally did release the songs (from a different audio source) on a Generation X Anthology that he did approve.  The songs I have that I will discuss are for the Anthology and not the actual Sweet Revenge release as I am still trying to get my hands on it.  When I do, I will update the post.

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