We shine this week’s spotlight on Billy Idol. Idol started his solo career right as MTV was starting to take off. My absolute favorite Idol song is also the first hit he scored in the US, “Dancing With Myself” from his debut album. It was originally recorded by his former band, the British punk band Generation X, and released as a single but didn’t see any success in the US. It was remixed, included on his debut album re-issue and released as a single. There’s is NOTHING better than dancing rock and roll zombies being destroyed by the power of Billy Idol!
The video is also a testament to how lo-fi and generally bad music videos were in the early days of MTV. This song is seriously my favorite Idol song, though. The bass line at the end of the song is perfection. Also from that album was one of his biggest hits, “White Wedding”. A great song but a totally weird video. When I was a kid, I remember it freaking me out when I first saw it.
His followup album, Rebel Yell, produced three seriously good singles and videos: “Rebel Yell”, “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Eyes Without A Face”. Steven Stevens, Billy’s long time guitar player, is seriously underrated as a guitarist. At the end of the guitar solo for “Rebel Yell”, he actually employees a toy ray gun held up to his guitar pick-ups to achieve that laser gun sound. When I was a teenager, I bought one of those same toy guns so I could play the solo at home. His guitar tone and some of the parts he creates in the last two songs – parts that are sometimes lost in the mix – are some of my favorites.
One of Idol’s songs and videos that I never really connected with was “To Be A Lover” off of his album Whiplash Smile. Apparently I was in the minority, though, because the song reached #6 on the Billboard chart. One item of note, the dancer in the white dress is Bunty Bailey, star of a-ha’s video “Take On Me”.
One last video of note for Mr. Idol is “Rock The Cradle of Love”. At the time of it’s release, the effects in the video were considered state of the art. It even won “Best Special Effects” at the MTV Video Awards in 1990. It became his highest charting song, reaching #2 on the chart. Billy Idol, ladies and gentlemen.