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 – ‘Charmed Life’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

Billy Idol’s world was different now after ‘Whiplash Smile’ and ‘Vital Idol’.  Steve Stevens was gone, his manager Bill Aucoin was gone and he needed a fresh start.  After reconciling with his girlfriend, Perri Lister, they moved from New York City to Los Angeles to give things a go.

Billy and Perri had a baby boy, Billy bought himself a motorcycle, Billy got the acting bug and Billy couldn’t stay faithful to Perri.  A lot was going on.  Oh yeah, and he continued to use drugs.  So, where to begin.  I will give a Cliff Notes version as it would be a rather long synopsis if I didn’t.

I guess we will go with the fact that he had a baby and was now a dad, but it didn’t seem to stop his infidelity. He continually cheated on Perri and even fell for a girl 13 years younger than him.  Well, he knocked her up and she gave Billy a beautiful baby girl.  This of course was the end of Billy & Perri when she found out.

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Billy also met a lot of people in the movie business and actually got a big role in the Oliver Stone movie ‘The Doors’ about Jim Morrison and the band.   But before he could do that role, Billy went and had himself a little motorcycle accident which nearly cost him one of his legs.  As a result, he couldn’t do the role and had to settle for a much lesser role in the movie.  In fact, it was so bad he wasn’t able to promote his new album he had been working on called ‘Charmed Life’.  He did appear in the video for the first single (more on that later), but not much else.

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Billy Idol – ‘Whiplash Smile’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

After the tour for Rebel Yell, Billy Idol continued to live like he was on tour.  The drug use was getting worse, his relationship with Perri Lister was over and even his manager, Bill Aucoin was absent due to his own drug issues.  Billy’s world was slowly spiraling out of control.  And so was his ego.

When work was started on his next album ‘Whiplash Smile’, Billy’s ego started to get in the way.  He wanted control.  He wanted to write all the songs.  He wanted to add more synthesizers, more sounds, more stuff that wasn’t Steve Stevens.  And it is noticeable in the music.

What is also noticeable, is that with everyone leaving his life, the loneliness found its way into the music.  And an album that found about as much success as its predecessor, it wasn’t not quite the Billy Idol album people wanted or critics even liked.  It was an album that would lead to the end of a relationship between musicians that really needed each other.

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Billy Idol – ‘Rebel Yell’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

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.

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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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Gen X – ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

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.

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