There’s something very satisfying about a veteran artist that releases a new album and just nails it. The planets and stars have aligned for Billy Idol on the occasion of his 7th all-new studio album. Yes, just seven since his debut back in 1982, but on Kings And Queens Of The Underground, Billy takes fans back to the sound of Rebel Yell and Whiplash Smile with long time creative partner, guitarist Steve Stevens.
This is just such a refreshing album.
Looking back Billy’s best material was never about being heavy, it was more about the attitude and mixing technology with hard edged guitar driven rock n roll.
That’s exactly what he does perfectly here again. Some programming, drumbeats, synth and the ever present Stevens adding precision guitar riffs, shreds and fills throughout.
Choosing high-tech producer Trevor Horn was genius as he has helped Billy re-create his past without repeating himself or sounding dated.
I will say the album slows a bit in the second half and the inclusion of the throwaway punk rocker Whiskey And Pills to close the album is a waste, but otherwise this is pretty flawless.
Bitter Pill (co-written with Eric Bazilian) and the pop driven Can’t Break Me Down are two of Billy’s best tunes ever in my opinion, I simply can’t shake them from my head.
Save Me Now is another moody throwback to Whiplash Smile and One Breath Away is a modernized version of the classic Idol sound.
Postcards From The Past is 'Rebel Yell' for a new generation and the autobiographical Kings & Queens Of The Underground is a joy to listen to.
The trio of tracks Eyes Wide Shut, Ghosts In My Guitar and Nothing To Fear all slow the tempo of the album down and kills the energy a little, but the mood and delivery are still very appealing.
Love And Glory is another mid-paced track, but the chorus is the standout for the second half of the album, not to mention a great vocal from Billy.
This album is an absolutely great statement from Billy, who may never make another album like this again. But at least he has now and he and Stevens really capture the energy of the past while never once sounding like they are trying to produce a carbon copy.
Very satisfying for those Idol fans left sometimes frustrated by his releases.