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.
In my crate digging back in June, I found this beauty. It is a Gen X 12″ single of the song “Dancing with Myself”. This was off the band’s third album called “Kiss Me Deadly” and was a little before the song became famous by the Gen X singer, Billy Idol, on his first solo outing. Since I have all the band’s stuff (with minor exceptions), I look for the Singles and oddball items now and this fit the bill nicely.
For me it is both a Single and an oddball, because what is the deal with the frightening little girl on the cover. She’s scary, right? The album is still wrapped in the original plastic wrap which has seen better days, but this has kept the album in pretty dang good shape.
“Dancing with Myself” failed to chart upon its release and didn’t really do much. It wasn’t until Billy released it as one of his solo songs, but that is for another discussion. The song was inspired by what the band saw while on tour in Tokyo. They noticed that at the dance clubs, the people were dancing more with their own reflections in the mirrored walls than they were with other people. That somehow inspired the song.
The song has has always been one of my favorite songs by the band and Billy’s solo work. The song is pure New Wave dance music with a slight punk edge…classic Billy Idol solo. It is so melodic, catchy and so much energy you can’t help but move. The guitars are a little louder on this version and the bass toned down ever so slightly, but other than that it is the song you know. Being the 12″ Single, it is extended out to just over 4 minutes which is about 20 seconds longer than the album version and 20 more seconds to be on the dance floor.
The prize on this is not just “Dancing With Myself” as I have several versions on other releases, but it is the B-Sides. Okay, I have the other two songs as well, but only digitally, not physically. Now that has changed. The two tracks are called “Loopy Dub” and “Ugly Dub” and honestly, they aren’t that great. So the prize really is “Dancing With Myself”.
“Loopy Dub” doesn’t really go fast enough for a dance track. It is kinda slow and drags on with no real purpose. I would’ve liked something more upbeat that you could dance too because this just depresses me. “Ugly Dub” isn’t any better. There is a strong case to be made why these didn’t end up on the album. Honestly, not sure there was ever any reason to release them period.
And there you have it. Another nugget in the world of Billy Idol. The collection is coming along nicely and I love adding new stuff especially when it comes to the Gen X era of his career.
Now, if you want to check out the full reviews and the entire Billy Idol Series, click on any and all of the links below…
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.
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.
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.
Billy Idol was loving his time in New York and it showed in his writing as the album seemed to be inspired by what he was doing in the city. After the mild success of his 1981 E.P., Don’t Stop, he and the band went to work on the debut album simply titled ‘Billy Idol’. It is his album and he is the main focal point so why not call it ‘Billy Idol’.
Released in 1982, Billy was discovering who he was as an artist and what it was like to now be the main focal point. His meeting of Steve Stevens seemed to be a match made in Heaven…well rock & roll heaven anyway. Steven even contributed a couple writing credits on this release. The two together would become one of the great teams in music. You have McCartney & Lennon, Elton John & Bernie Taupin and now you have Idol & Stevens…okay, that is stretching it too far, but you know what I mean.
When the album was originally released in 1982, the album cover looked like this…
I don’t have this cover, yet, but I will find it one day and get a hold of it. I don’t like this one as much as the alternate cover I have. It is a little too feminine compared to the toughness of the one I have with the black leather jacket (not that there is anything wrong with that). The new cover fits the attitude and the snarl so much better.
After the demise of Generation X and Gen X, Billy would follow Bill Aucoin, his manager and Kiss’ former manager, to New York City to start a solo career. When Billy signed on with Gen X as their manager, he quickly learned that the star of this band was not the band, but its lead singer, Billy Idol.
When Billy got to New York, he met a lot of interesting people and really loved the club scene…and of course, the drug scene was something he enjoyed as well. If you read his book, “Dancing With Myself“ you can find out all about it so I won’t spoil the details here.
Billy was introduced to a guitarists at this time that would become just as big a part of Billy’s solo career as he was. He met Steve Stevens. There is no Billy Idol sound without Steve and his guitar playing is what makes Idol’s solo songs that much better.
With Steve Stevens in tow along with Phil Feit on bass and Gregg Gerson on drums, the band set out to record Billy’s first solo album. As a teaser and build up to his career, it was decided an E.P. would be put out, I guess to whet everyone’s whistle and draw up buzz on the singer. ‘Don’t Stop’ was the result. It was more of a dance album than the former punk sound Billy had and you could see the magic being developed on what would become an amazing run of albums in the 80’s.
After touring the band’s second album, ‘Valley of the Dolls’, the band was in shambles. During the recording of their third album, Derwood Andrews decided to leave the band. And shortly thereafter, Billy asked drummer, Mark Laff, to leave…well, he fired him as he didn’t feel his style was appropriate for the new sound. Generation X was done. That third album would not be released for another 20 years.
Remaining players, Billy Idol and Tony James, decided to keep going, but now they were called Gen X. First the band needed a new manager, Tony found a guy by the name of Bill Aucoin. If you are a Kiss fan, that name should ring some bells pretty loudly. The band then got drummer Terry Chimes and they auditioned several guitarists while recording the new album.
The band’s style was no longer punk. They were going to ride the New Wave sound that was starting to sweep across England. That sound would be what carried Billy into his solo career. Speaking of solo career, Bill Aucoin wasn’t overly impressed with Gen X. His real interest was Billy Idol and what he could with him in America, but that would come just a little later down the line.
I have been a fan of Billy Idol since the day I heard (and saw) “White Wedding” on MTV back in the very early years of the station. The music and his image with that Elvis curling of his lip had me from day one. So, when Amazon had the book for the Kindle for $2.99 I had to get it and finally sat down and read it. The book came out in October 2014 by Simon & Schuster and obviously tells the story of his life. It is an autobiography which is why I wanted to really read it. It is straight from the man himself not someone taking stories from various sources who might have even been there.
The book covers his life from a child when they moved to the U.S. and then back to the U.K. all the way up to his last album (and my favorite Billy Idol album) released in 2014, ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’. I am actually playing it as I am writing and I will do a review of that one someday. The book covers all the bands, the sex, the drugs, the albums, the sex, the drugs, the ups & downs, the sex, the drugs and so much more. Did I mention it covers the sex and the drugs?
He freely talks about his sexual escapades and what rock & roll biography doesn’t which is why that is really the least interesting thing about the book. The drugs are typical for a rock & roll biography as well, but for this part, it is important in his life story. It was interesting to hear how messed up he was during the recording of the albums, the tours and his life in general. At times, his commentary about being high painted this very vivid image and he takes you on this stranger journey momentarily and you realize just how fucked up he really was. It is amazing he is still alive.