Billy Idol – ‘Vital Idol’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

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.

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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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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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