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Full Throttle Rock

Album Review: Billy Idol - Kings & Queens Of The Underground

Posted on October 26, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Billy Idol – Kings & Queens Of The Underground

Written by The Rock Man


Every journey has a beginning. For me, my musical journey began in 1983 at the age of thirteen. Up until that point I really did not care that much for music, but one man would change that and, as a result, change my life forever. That man was Billy Idol. Released in late 1983, and throughout 1984, one of the hottest records going around was his Rebel Yell album and this was the first album by any artist that I purchased. This amazing record was a light bulb moment for me and opened the doors to how much of an important part music can play in someone’s life. To this day Rebel Yell is still one of my Top 5 favourite albums.

Since then I have been a devoted Billy Idol fan and enjoyed the many great albums he has released over the course of his career, but equally there has been frustration too. The wait for new material can be extremely long and seriously test one’s patience. For example, there was a twelve year gap between his 1993 Cyberpunk record and the 2005 release Devil’s Playground. Further to that an additional nine years between Devils Playground and his new studio album Kings & Queens Of The Underground. But after one listen I am prepared to forgive him because it is worth the wait and then some.

On this record Idol appears to be in a very reflective mood as on several tracks he reminisces about his rebellious youth and glory days. We begin this 11 track/48 minutes nostalgic journey with Bitter Pill. The track is solid and punchy with a great melodic chorus and the undeniable guitar sounds of guitar virtuoso Steve Stevens. Here Idol states “I laughed at all the signs that say ‘speed’ll kill ya’” which really sums up his life in a nutshell. From here we move on to the first single from the album Can’t Break Me Down. This is a defiant driving hybrid of late '70s punk rock and '80s hard rock and is sure to become a highlight on future tours.

Save Me Now is simply awesome, again with Stevens playing a starring part. I wouldn't be surprised if this one made it to radio as well. Postcards From The Past is a full on steam train and just one of many reasons to buy this CD. As Stevens opens up the throttle and puts the foot down Idol wails as he reconciles his past with his future. The title track is, for all intents and purposes, the musical equivalent of his latest autobiography titled Dancing With Myself. I expected this track to be a balls to the wall rock anthem but surprisingly it wasn't. Instead we are treated to a concoction of acoustic and electric guitars, orchestral arrangements and flute. Like I said earlier, Idol is very reflective as he sings “1984 and ‘Rebel Yell’ had the floor/All they said was ‘more, more, more’/Well I touched you with my ‘Eyes Without A Face’/I was ‘Hot In The City’/Yes I thought I was ace”. Nice work Billy.

Eyes Wide Shut is a big mid-tempo piece. Big electric and acoustic guitars, big bass and drums, big rich piano sounds and Idol’s voice make for a very impressive track. At the tail end of the record we find Love And Glory which builds up to become a steady rocker and the flat out Whiskey And Pills which brings the ride to an end very nicely.

Throughout music history there are certain combinations of musicians that when they get together magical things just happen: Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Page and Plant. You get the point. This is what happens every time Idol and Stevens are in the same room; the result is just brilliant and the result at this point of Idol’s careers is Kings & Queens Of The Underground.

Categories: Album Reviews

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