If you remember my discussions last week, while at a record show here in Charlotte, I came across that Billy Idol Picture Disc for “Eyes Without A Face”, but that wasn’t all I found. I also found a couple 7″ Singles from Billy Idol as well. First up was “Hot in the City” with the B-Side “Catch My Fall”. The other 7″ Single I found from Billy was for the song “Sweet Sixteen” off the album ‘Whiplash Smile’. The B-Side for the song was also from the album, a song called “Beyond Belief”.
The US release of this single was in April 1987 and this single is from that release. The song did great as it went to #20 on the Top 40 charts helping drive the album to sells of over 1 million copies in the US alone making it go Platinum for Billy. Both songs on the single are strictly the album versions. There are no single mixes or remixes, only the normal released songs. As a result, this is nothing new I don’t already have, but I didn’t have it in single form so I will take it to grow my Billy Idol collection.
The third single from the album was an acoustic guitar heavy ballad called “Sweet Sixteen” with a very nice bass groove added in. It might just be the best song on the album. A nice change of pace and gave you a softer side of Billy. The story behind the song is based on a true story about Edward Leedskalnin who was dumped by his fiancée Agnes Scuffs the day before their wedding. To try and win her back, he built a monument complete with furniture made of coral, in Homestead, Florida called Coral Castle. Sadly, she still didn’t want him. Oh well, it is now a little tourist attraction…although quite weird. Edward’s nickname for Agnes was “Sweet Sixteen”.
Back in April 2019, the family took a trip to Paris and I found a lot of records while shopping in a few really cool French Record Shops. This particular one, which I am not sure why I didn’t include in the Billy Idol series in the timeline it belongs, was nothing really special. It didn’t have any thing I didn’t already have, but I didn’t have it. That was the only reason I bought it. I guess the really cool thing it has is this French price sticker in the upper right corner of the back cover.
The single is a 12″ Max-Single of the single “To Be A Lover” off the album ‘Whiplash Smile’. Now this also has two other songs. A remix of the single as well as another song off the album called “All Summer Long”. Let us get in to the music.
“To Be A Lover” (Mother of Mercy Mix) opens it up and this should really be called the Sex Mix with the woman practically orgasming with her sultry, seductive voice throughout. Damn!! A total blast. This is the version you can find on the 1987 album ‘Vital Idol’ along with 7 other re-mixes of Idol’s hits up to that point. This was not on the UK version released 2 years earlier as ‘Whiplash Smile’ album was not out yet.
This was the first single of the album ‘Whiplash Smile’ and it was a cover of William Bell’s “To Be A Lover” which was co-written by Booker T. Jones back in 1968. Billy completely modernized the song and turned it in to a dance track. It has some great soulful female backing vocals and fancy piano riffs and an all around fantastic track. The song is actually quite poignant in that with his longtime girlfriend leaving him since he “forgot to be a lover” with his drug use and sexcapades with other women. It felt like he was confessing that he screwed up.
Then comes “All Summer Single” which has too many effects and no substance. It is plain and dull for me and I never connected to this one. It feels lonely like Billy was without his girlfriend Perri…so sad.
And there you have it…a little bonus edition of the Billy Idol Series. We have one more coming up soon on the Deluxe Edition of the Generation X the band’s debut album.
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…
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.
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.