Back in 2015, I interviewed Alfie just before he went off to Broadway to do Les Miz and just after he had created the role of Jimmy in the world premiere of Classic Quadrophenia. Naturally, we spoke about the highlights of that concert at the Royal Albert Hall and I told Alfie that I was surprised by how good Billy Idol was. I had to admit that aside from the obvious few hits, I didn’t really know much about Billy Idol and his music, to which the answer from Alfie was unequivocally, “well, you should – you should definitely listen more, especially to Rebel Yell“. That was over two years ago and although I had the best intentions, I still had not researched and listened to Billy Idol! Now, however, looking around for a new year resolution that might actually stick, I came up with the idea of listening to more music, especially music that I would not normally choose to listen to and has been introduced to me by Alfie. Of course, my first subject for this monthly post is Billy Idol!
Growing up in the 1980’s, I couldn’t help being aware of Billy Idol, particularly White Wedding, Hot in the City, Mony Mony and Rebel Yell but I would never seek out his music to listen to; rather, it was part of the music culture of that time. So, embarking on project Billy Idol, what did I actually know about his music? If you had asked me a month ago I would have said his music was punk but I came to realise that although the music is definitely originated in punk, it has much more of a pop sound and style about it that I wasn’t expecting. Punk Pop, perhaps.
Although, this was the song that Alfie had recommended me to start with, he might have meant the whole album, also entitled Rebel Yell. Regularly cited as Idol’s best album, I’ve now listened to the whole album and I agree, it’s great! It’s catchy, it’s got rocking rhythms and tunes and above all, it’s reminiscent of that whole era. Aside from this song, Eyes Without A Face is my favourite track. Luckily, Idol was making his mark just when MTV started and I can still remember the novelty of watching music videos non stop on the TV…something that we today can scarcely credit, with our non stop on demand music!
From Rebel Yell, I worked my way through his other albums but nothing caught my ear until his 2014 release, Kings and Queens of the Underground. This is the title track:
I’m a sucker for songs that tell a story and the lyrics on this song are fabulous; recalling past glories whilst also moving the story forward. It doesn’t hold back on the highs and lows of the rock and roll life either; it could be subtitled, ‘how the hell am I still here’? The sound is unexpectedly pared down and would be a great song to hear live. Other tracks that appeal are Save Me, Postcard From The Past and Ghosts In My Guitar. They have different styles, from the understated to the classic Idol sound but as a whole, it hangs together perfectly.
Kings and Queens of the Underground is available here:
As I mentioned earlier, my New Year resolution is to listen to more music, especially that inspired by Alfie, so I’m looking for some recommendations for another eleven posts. If you have any recommendations for me, fill in the form and I’ll see what I can do:
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