“The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself” by Billy Idol

Artist: Billy Idol
Title: “The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself”
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 6/24/2008
Genre: New Wave/Punk Rock
Rating: 5/5

Yes I like Billy Idol, and now that I have said that I definitely feel no less the rocker for the admission and this is mainly because the singer was always able to appeal to a wide scope of listeners no matter what their favorite genre of choice might have been. Idol’s climb up the musical ladder of success began when he was the singer for a UK Punk band called Generation X and it was with songs like “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Ready Steady Go” that they made a bit of a name for themselves in a growing scene. As a matter of fact when Idol decided it was time that he move on from the band he brought one of their singles with him. While it was a popular song for the band it failed to make them a household name and was thus deemed a failure. Idol would alter it slightly and give it a tad more of a commercially acceptable feel and after the re-working the song would become his signature track and since that time “Dancing With Myself” has become one of the most revered tunes in his catalog. “White Wedding” was another track that killed when you first heard it and it came up during the growing stages of MTV; one could actually find the video clip for the tune locked into an almost hourly rotation on the network back in the day. It was promotional tools like this that found Idol’s rise to solo superstardom easier than many others who would try but it was not only in the appeal of his clips and how often they played but in the strength of his material. Musically there was a solid beat but often heavy rock guitar work and sex soaked lyrical content for the most part that made him seem the ultimate bad boy rocker. Billy Idol was known for being brash and rude but the women all loved him and the guys wanted to pal around with him and his entourage. “The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself” is a fantastic collection of the singers body of work and covers the span of all of his releases (from the “Don’t Stop” EP (1981) through “Devil’s Playground” (2005). Many of these hits also feature the talented Steve Stephens who was Idol’s guitarist for most of his albums.

The rocking on the collection continues with “Rebel Yell”, a song which has long been a personal favorite of mine and it seems as though his early quest to “make Punk music sexier” was definitely achieved when one hears songs like “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Cradle Of Love”. The Dance and Rock club mega hit “Mony Mony” is here in all its glory along with his very electronic redo of The Doors classic “LA Woman”. I wonder if Tommy James could have ever thought that his song would reach such a level of popularity under the command of the singer because you could not go into a bar anywhere without hearing “Mony Mony” at one point during the evening. To be honest there is hardly a dull moment on this best of and that’s the way I like them to be presented. Many collections are guilty of having more than a dull moment or two about them and of course while the hits of any artist is often a personal thing outside of the mainstays, I was happy to find that I couldn’t think of any real issue with the selections presented. I would have liked to hear the extended “White Wedding” on this, and perhaps even one or two Generation X numbers, but that would have necessitated a second CD. There are also two new tracks included and while I generally dislike the practice based on these songs often being “throwaway” numbers this was not to be the case in terms of Billy Idol. The first track is “John Wayne” and this is a dark number that finds the singer at his brooding best. It’s also on the heavier side which affirms that he has not slowed down much in all of his years of making music. The CD closes out with another new number and this is also a winner entitled “New Future Weapon”. The track is a quick moving rocker that calls to mind the vibe of both “Dancing With Myself” and perhaps even some attitude of “Rebel Yell”. Once it’s done, you cannot help but replay the entire thing, or load it on your music player and get yourself moving. The deluxe edition comes with a DVD of his videos which we shall examine further.

DVD: Dancing With Myself, Hot In The City, White Wedding (Pt. 1), Rebel Yell, Eyes Without A Face, Flesh For Fantasy, Catch My Fall, To Be A Lover, Don’t Need A Gun, Sweet Sixteen, Mony, Mony (live), Cradle Of Love, L.A. Woman.

*** As referenced earlier, the early years of MTV knew the music videos of Billy Idol very well and it was an amazing idea to include these films on the deluxe edition of the greatest hits collection. I grew up during the time of this MTV infancy and it’s without any question that I saw some of these videos hundreds of times. There are thirteen of them in all and while I am not certain if these are the only ones he had ever done I am positive of the fact that their original VHS releases had never been converted to DVD so if you want them in one nice little package, I could think of no place better to feature them for his diehard fans. Thanks to the magic of this collection we go back in time to Billy’s first video of them all which was his former bands song, “Dancing With Myself”. The interesting film finds the singer performing in what appears to be some sort of nuclear ravaged world. It’s got some creepy visuals to say the least. There is the uncensored version of “Hot In The City” and this has never been released before anywhere. The very Gothic for its time film for “White Wedding” is still magic and like the song of the same name, I always also enjoyed the performance footage type video for “Rebel Yell”. I loved “To Be A Lover” which found the singer in a boxing ring armed only with his microphone while Steve Stephens played an electric piano. We get a live version of “Mony Mony” since a video was never done for the song when he first gave it to us as a studio track and while this segment closes with “LA Woman”, the other highlight is the extended version of “Cradle Of Love”. This was one of those videos that pushed the taboo levels to new heights for its time and while nothing bad actually happens, it does tend to have a steamy feel that is very suggestive and open about being so without any question. The viewer will not be speeding through these videos at all and instead watch them from beginning to end.

The singer will be supporting the release with a tour in 2008 and if only half of this material is how is set list is compiled I would say it’s going to be one rocking night wherever he sets down.

Track Listing:
1. Dancing With Myself
2. Hot In The City
3. White Wedding (Part 1)
4. Rebel Yell
5. Eyes Without A Face
6. Flesh For Fantasy
7. Catch My Fall
8. To Be A Lover
9. Don’t Need A Gun
10. Sweet Sixteen
11. Mony, Mony
12. Cradle Of Love
13. L.A. Woman
14. Shock To The System
15. Speed
16. World Comin’ Down
17. John Wayne
18. New Frontier Weapon

Official Website: www.billyidol.net

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