Merry Christmas!! And today is a Special Edition of My Sunday Song as it will be a Christmas song and one I enjoy a lot. The song today is “Yellin’ at the Xmas Tree” by Billy Idol. Nothing says Christmas like a drunk father yellin’ at the Christmas tree and then end up falling asleep in the same tree. The song was written by Billy Idol and Brian Tichy and was released on the US and EU promo copies of Billy’s 2005 album ‘Devil’s Playground.
Now, my Christmas’ were nothing like the one pictured in the song. My dad was only yelling at the Christmas tree if we were doing something to it. Plus, he was never drunk. But I am sure a lot of people out there that this has happened to them. Gather around the tree to decorate it, but Dad’s out at the pub getting drunk. Carolers are outside singing and all is well while Santa comes down the chimney and is making it with your Mom while Dad stands there and yells at the Christmas Tree. It sounds like such a Happy Christmas!! And it sounds like a dirty Santa as you can tell from this line…”Santa’s balls are jingling / Mommy’s hips a-wiggling” You go Santa!!
We would all need some therapy after that sight I am sure. The song opens with sleigh bells and then turns straight up rocker. That Steve Stevens guitar sound races through the riffs and Brian Tichy is banging on those drums. Billy’s lip curls as he spits out the lyrics. We get some great Idol screams, some church bells. It is a kick ass song that will put you in the Christmas spirit the minute you hear it!!
Give the song a listen and tell me it doesn’t just brighten your day that your families Christmas was better than this. It makes you appreciate what you have for sure!! Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Day!!
When I was out to Noble Records 3rd Anniversary Record Drop, I found some great pieces for the collection. One that I had been wanting is the 12″ Single for Billy Idol’s classic, “White Wedding”. And sure enough, he had it and I bought it. One of the most recognizable Billy Idol songs ever is from his debut 1982 self titled album. “White Wedding” is on that album but it is listed as “Part 1”. Which means there must be a “Part 2”. What is cool about this 1982 release is that it includes both Part 1 and Part 2 of the song “White Wedding”. Side 1 actually has both Part 1 & Part 2 together as one song at over 8 minutes in length. Side 2 is exclusively Part 2.
“White Wedding (part 1)” became a massive hit for Billy thanks to MTV. With few videos to play in the early days, this one got on heavy rotation. The song was written by Billy Idol and is a song that is not about a happy wedding. I have read different stories about what the song means. One, it is not actually about his sister. It is either about a “shotgun” wedding or about a woman he is in love with then she marries someone else.
It has that classic Steve Stevens opening riff and the bass line by Phil Feit is powerful and chugs along driving the song forward. Keith Forsey on drums is amazing as his fills are perfectly placed and the beats give the song a frantically charged feel to the song. Billy calmly sings at first with an almost eerie yet sinister tone. He gets more aggressive as the song goes and when it builds to a climax he starts screaming and his “woahs” are perfect. The song never made you look at weddings the same way again.
After a seven year absence with new material, Billy has popped back and in a big way. His last album was 2014’s King & Queen of the Underground (which absolutely stellar) and then in 2021, he released an E.P. called ‘The Roadside’ which has one of his best songs ever called “Bitter Taste”. Almost exactly one year later in 2022, Billy released another E.P. and this one was called “The Cage” and is another 4 song set. This leads me to think that Billy might not be up for doing a full album, but if he wants to put out 4 new songs every year and with the caliber of these songs, count me in.
Billy Idol and his longtime partner, Steve Stevens have crafted another batch of great songs with the help of famed producer, Butch Walker along with Tommy English and Zakk Cervini. In an interview recently, I heard Billy talk about the fact that he was happy he somehow survived his drug induced rock & roll lifestyle because it has all been worth it. That worth it he is talk about is his granddaughter. He has seem to have found a new appreciation for life and that is reflected in his music and writing and I’m starting to think Billy is a fine wine because he keeps getting better with age!
The opening track, “The Cage”, is basically about all the pent up energy everyone was feeling coming out of the Covid Lockdown. It felt like we were all in a cage and it was time to bust out. Written by Billy, Steven, Tommy and Joe Janiak. It is a high energy, punk rock song and Billy feels right at home on this track. If there is a Billy Idol sound…this is it and with Steve Stevens on guitar, there is no mistaken that sound. A perfect song to catch your attention and reel you in.
And if you think “The Cage” is the best song on the E.P., you’d be wrong. That belongs to the introspective “Running from the Ghost”. Lyrically, the song seems to be about Billy running from his demons all his life. He has seen some dark things in this life and his alcohol and drug addiction are a battle every day. The song starts off slow and then it explodes and the guitar work by Stevens is some of his best ever. That drum beat with it are powerful and engaging. It is a beast of a track and has such a mature and serious tone. You will be surprised by this one.
Then we get to “Rebel Like You” with its fun motorcycle revving at the start. The electronic drum beat comes blaring in and Billy sings with umph and you can feel that snarl. The song has Billy on stage looking out in the audience and sees another woman dressed like him, but I’m not sure that is the gist of the story. I think the song is a shout out to his grand daughter and that she is a rebel just like him. The lines…
Ain’t nobody gonna love you more Except your mommy and your daddy, maybe Looking like you’re on the go, go, go Guess I’ve got company
I think he just loves her so much he wants to show her the world. She has the wild spirit like he had and he loves her to death. That is what I think. I could be wrong…known to happen.
The last track is called “Miss Nobody” and it is an electronic, dance song. This one was produced by Butch Walker and co-written by Sam Hollander. It is a slick pop track about a down & out woman who still is kicking ass. It is not my favorite track on the album, but it has its merits as it is catchy and contagious and will get you moving. A little less on the guitars, but still feels like a Billy track.
Let’s get this out of the way quick…I love this E.P. and have been playing it non-stop and now these songs are old friends. That is two E.P.s in two years and both are amazing. I hope this continues because I could get spoiled. If you think Billy’s heyday is behind him, you’d be seriously incorrect. This is Billy at his best. My Overall Score is a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars. A must have!!
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…
In my quest for great picture sleeve singles, here is yet another great one I found at Mad Jack’s in Matthews, NC. This time around it is Billy Idol’s single for “Rebel Yell” and yes, I am surprised I didn’t already have this one, but I didn’t. It was released on October 24, 1983 and the song was a smash for Billy Idol and Steve Steven especially on MTV. On the radio, it didn’t even break the Top 40 reaching only #46. It did go to #9 on the Rock Charts, but MTV is where it was in constant rotation and helped make Billy a star. He was made for MTV.
“Rebel Yell” was written by Billy Idol and Steve Stevens and was actually inspired by the Rolling Stones according to Billy on VH1 Storytellers. Billy was at a party thrown by the Stones and everyone was drinking Rebel Yell Bourbon Whiskey. I guess he loved that whiskey (along with a lot of drugs at the time). He took the name and turned it in to a rocking track.
My copy is a standard U.S. Release and nothing special. You can pick it up cheap if you find it. The B-Side is “Crank Call” also from the album ‘Rebel Yell’.
Like a lot of musicians during the pandemic, Billy Idol kept himself busy recording his first new music in 7 years with ‘The Roadside’ E.P. Sadly, it is only four songs, but as a fan I will take what I can get. One of my favorite albums of Billy’s was his last album ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’ so I have been waiting to see where he goes next and now we know. And I am excited as I can add a new post to the fantastic Billy Idol Series we did here on the site. I don’t know if this series will ever come to an end and I sure hope it doesn’t as I love having new Billy Idol music to hear.
The album was produced by producer Butch Walker (He’s worked with Matt Nathanson who I love) and Billy had his partner-in-crime, Steve Stevens, at his side to help him co-write and create new music. The three together were able to craft a great little nugget of music that will hopefully be the first of many from Billy in the future. The most recent thing we’ve had prior to this was a song Billy did with Miley Cyrus called “Night Crawling” which was fantastic. You know, that makes me think I need to review that song for the series as well. I will get on that.
I have a copy of the E.P. that should be arriving today, but I couldn’t wait to review it so I went ahead and did that thanks to streaming. My version that is in the mail is the standard black edition with one big difference. Mine will be autographed by the man himself! Yep, Billy Idol autographed my copy just for me…plus anyone else’s copy that ordered one.
If you remember a couple months back, I bought about 21 7″ Singles and in that were a couple of Billy Idol Singles. The first one is for the single, “Cradle of Love”, which was the first single off his 1990 album, ‘Charmed Life’. The second one was “Eyes Without a Face” which was off the 1983 album ‘Rebel Yell’ and was one we did not too long ago with the 12″ Picture Disc. This time around it is the 7″ Single. The song “Eyes Without A Face” was released in 1984 and went all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 giving Billy one of his highest charting songs. It also helped boost the album to over 2,000,000 sold giving it a double platinum certification.
My Copy isn’t in the best of shape as someone scribbled a little over Billy’s face and there is the “30” written in on the back cover which explains why this one was so cheap. I went with it anyway until I can find a better copy down the road.
When I head David Hasselhoff (or The Hoff) was putting out a new album of cover songs, I told myself that I have to listen to this for the train wreck that it is going to be. I mean The Hoff has never been popular in the States for his vocal talent and yet, I was intrigued.
David has put together an eclectic list of covers and the most interesting part is the line-up of musicians he was able to get to assist with these covers. Let’s look at the cover songs and those individuals who helped out.
Open Your Eyes (Feat. James Williamson of The Stooges) – Lords of the New Church Cover
Head On (Feat. Elliot Easton of The Cars) – The Jesus & Mary Chain Cover
I Melt With You (Feat. Steve Stevens) – Modern English Cover
Lips Like Sugar (Feat. A Flock of Seagulls) – Echo & The Bunnymen Cover
Heroes (Feat. Composer Tyler Bates) – David Bowie Cover
Here I Go Again (Feat. Tracii Guns) – Whitesnake Cover
Jump in My Car (Feat. Todd Rundgren) – Ted Murley Gang Cover
Rhinestone Cowboy (Feat. Charlie Daniels) – Glen Campbell Cover
If You Could Read My Mind (Feat. Ava Cherry) – Gordon Lightfoot Cover
Sugar Sugar (Feat. Steve Cropper) – The Archies Cover
Mit 66 Jahren (Feat. Patrick Moraz of Yes and the Moody Blues) – Udo Jurgens Cover
Sweet Caroline (Feat. Ministry’s Al Jourgensen) – Neil Diamond Cover
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.
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: