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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
BILLY IDOL - KINGS AND QUEENS OF THE UNDERGROUND review

 

BILLY IDOL - KINGS AND QUEENS OF THE UNDERGROUND

BFI RECORDS

OCTOBER 21 2014

 

 

After a great time in the eighties that fizzled out into 1993’s ‘Cyberpunk’ Billy Idol had been away just about long enough for a generation to forget him before releasing the rather decent return to form in 2005’s ‘Devil’s playground’. The year after, he followed it up with a Christmas themed ‘Happy Holidays’ album; and then promptly disappeared again. Now some might say it was the Christmas album that did it, but we would never suggest that was the case…


Every time Idol resurfaced of course, he did so with sidekick Steve Stevens (who we last saw playing with Kings of Chaos last year) with whom he co-wrote some of his finest material. It’s the same here Stevens is very much back. Musically the album is pretty varied sonically, part looking back to those early glory days and part trying to sound up-to-date; largely it fails at both but at times that certain spark is still there.


Opener ‘Bitter Pill’ is certainly a good pointer to the best the album has to offer, with a decent enough pop meets rock take on the Idol sound… but first single ‘Can’t Break Me Down’ is a different proposition entirely - modern radio-pop that sounds both derivative and rather unimaginative. And that really is the crux of the album – a mix of watered-down Idol of old and a wide open eye looking at potential radio play.


Like we said though there are moments and thankfully its 50:50. Songs like ‘Save Me Now’ hint at, and the rather splendid ‘Postcards From the Past’, screams of better things to come. Equally though ‘Save Me Now’ is R&B (NOT real Rhythm and Blues) nonsense and rather tepid.


By the time we get to the title track the album seems to get rockier and the guitar more to the fore.  ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ at first seems out of place with its rather more refined acoustic meanderings, but it’s a heck of a song that seems to distil the best of Idol’s past. And with ‘Ghosts in My Guitar’ perhaps obviously Stevens’ guitar is back to the fore, if still understated. The closing three numbers are also up there with the best: both ‘Nothing to Fear’ and ‘Love and Glory’ rock along nicely before the final word and only real rocker ‘Whiskey and Pills’ closes out in style.


Overall where Idol looks back he succeeds; though in looking to capture a more ‘modern’ sound he falls. We just know what we want him to play live when he gets down-under in 2015.

 

by Jo Rockpit

 

BILLY IDOL - KINGS AND QUEENS OF THE UNDERGROUND - HARD ROCK ALBUM REVIEW 2014