Billy Idol has taken a cover song and made it his own. “Mony Mony” is the song that I think more people related to Billy Idol rather than the original singer Tommy James and the Shondells who had a hit with it back in 1968. Billy first released it on his E.P. ‘Don’t Stop’ back in 1981. But it was the live recording of the song that became a hit while he was promoting his album ‘Vital Idol’ in 1987. The song was massive and live gave rise to the additional chant of “Get Laid..Get Fucked” following the line… “Hey, say what…”. It became such a popular chant, that high schools at the time banned the song from school dances.
When I was out crate digging, I came across this 12″ Maxi-Single a couple years ago, but it was in such bad shape, I passed as I knew I could find a better copy. And a couple months ago, I did. So, I grabbed it this time around. I keep saying I am not a fan of 12″ Maxi-Singles because you usually get several unnecessary re-mixes of the same song over and over again and this one is no different. But, I am a collector and I find something from an artist I like and I collect it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. This 12″ Single is the U.S. version from 1987 and has 4 versions of “Mony Mony” so let’s get to it, shall we.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.