Updated version includes a remix in Dolby Atmos and live bonus disc
Billy Idol advanced to his solo career with a respectable reputation that he had already accrued by the time he unleashed his self-titled solo debut.
As lead singer for the proto-punk band Generation X, he shaped the image that would forever inscribe his image exchanging eyeglasses for contact lenses, chopping off his hair and dying it blonde to effect a faux ‘50s look, and abandoning guitar to assume to role of a decidedly defiant frontman.
In fact, once Generation X broke up, Idol was already in an ideal position to go out on his own, simply by retaining the identity he had already adapted for his former outfit. Consequently the release on his eponymous debut in 1982 proved a major success, spawning several stand-out singles, chief among them his longstanding anthem of sorts “White Wedding.” Other successes would follow — including his iconic remake of the song he originally recorded with Generation X, “Dancing With Myself.”
While the permanency of punk is debatable, Idol has managed to survive and thrive, retaining his indelible image more than 40 years on, complete with the cropped bleached blonde hair and his ever-snarling stance. In recent years he’s released two EPs — The Cage and The Roadside — and this year, he received a star on Hollywood’s famed Walk of Fame and performed the first-ever concert at the Hoover Dam. He’s currently involved in an extensive European tour with Generation Sex, a supergroup of sorts that also includes his former colleague Tony James from Generation X, as well as Steve Jones and Paul Cook, both ex of the Sex Pistols.
It all provides further proof that Idol is hardly idle.
Consequently, the re-release of that iconic eponymous debut offers opportunity to affirm Idol’s durability. The double album boasts a superb Dolby Atmos sonic upgrade courtesy of Grammy-winning engineer Paul Hicks, another in a line of notable remixed recordings he’s done for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, among the many.
A major incentive for re-purchase comes in the form of a previously unreleased concert that took place on August 12, 1982 at the venerable Roxy in Los Angeles. The 15 song track list is certainly impressive, given the inclusion of seminal songs such as “Come On, Come On,” “Hot In the City” and “Kiss Me Deadly,” the aforementioned hit “White Wedding,” an early preview of “Dancing With Myself,” and indelible covers of “Mony Mony” and “Ready Steady Go.” It also provides proof that even early on, Idol was a confident and credible live performer whose image was fully fleshed out in concert courtesy of a driving and dynamic stage show.
To further sweeten the pot, the album features a special extended remix of “White Wedding,” not to mention extensive and insightful liner notes from Rock & Roll Globe’s own Tim Sommer.
Unlike many artists of his era, Idol never adhered to the strict nihilistic tenets that governed punk precepts early on. His allegiance to pop was as solid as it was to punk, and when he rocked, he displayed both aptitude and attitude. Granted, Idol’s image these days may not be in keeping with an individual who now nearing the age of 70, but he certainly deserves credit for maintaining his energy and enthusiasm.
In that regard, this new version of Billy Idol becomes a timely connection of past to present.