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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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.
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After the success of his self-titled debut album, Billy Idol, teamed back up with producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Stevens. And in late 1983, we were treated to his second album, ‘Rebel Yell’. The collaboration with Steve Stevens grew immensely with this album. On the first, Steve only had his hand in writing two songs. On ‘Rebel Yell’, he contributed to all but one song that was only written by Idol. The bond had grown so much, that Steve even made the back cover of the album.
The duo of Billy and Steve was complete and you couldn’t have one without the other, at least for a long while anyway. If you notice on the back cover, the songs are broken out into Sides 3 and Sides 4. This was because the debut was 1 and 2, so these naturally would be 3 and 4, he would do this at least one more time for the next studio album. I liked the concept.
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