|Billy Idol Devil's Playground||Sanctuary Records|
Billy Idol has never been far removed from the news, so it's hard to believe it's actually been 10 years since his last studio album.|
Sure, there have been the compilations and the odd single, but it really has been that long! And being that his last couple of studio albums were poorly received, it's nearly 20 years since his last great release - Whiplash Smile.
Devil's Playground sees Billy Idol return to being…well, Billy Idol. Long time collaborator Steve Stevens is back and he really delivers the goods with a mix of furious riffing and composed soloing – both in the electric and acoustic department.
Producer Keith Forsey also returns – he was at the helm of Billy's biggest albums Rebel Yell and Whiplash Smile. His knowledge of working with Billy and Steve helps create a return to that classic sound.
This album sees Billy paying tribute to himself, with a mixture of textures from across his diverse career, but a definite emphasis on his classic sound from the late 80's.
Generally speaking, this is a very catchy record and one which I think will please a majority of fans. It isn't an absolute classic, but by sticking to what he knows best, he manages to deliver a very enjoyable record that avoids the unnecessary experimentation of his last album or two.
This is one for patient Idol fans to enjoy. Billy does a career wrap here, covering the pop/punk of his earliest days, the shredding melodic hard rock of his biggest hits, smoldering acoustic tinged rock with a modern edge and thankfully only one experimental track (Summer Running) which would have fit on the very ordinary Cyberpunk album.
All this music is wrapped up in some tongue in cheek lyrics and oozes that feel good vibe.
As stated, there is a little bit of everything here. The more I listen to it (at great volume), the better it gets.
The very catchy World Coming Down and Sherri are a great listen, touching on his anthemic pop/punk roots; Rat Race is a darker and updated take on Flesh For Fantasy; Scream is Billy's Rebel Yell 2005 as Lady Do Or Die is his Sweet Sixteen 2005; and the acoustic driven Plastic Jesus and the darker Romeo's Waiting have a very contemporary style and have every chance at radio success.
Body Snatcher and Evil Eye miss the mark a little bit – trying too hard to adapt to the modern rock format. Far better examples come when Billy sounds more natural.
Yellin' At The Xmas Tree is one track a little hard to pigeon hole. A terrific track with a great hook and laughable lyrics, it's inclusion is a little puzzling seeing the album's release is some 9 months from more seasonably appropriate timing! Still, it's all good fun and could feature as a surprise hit later in the year.
Guitarist Steve Steven's role in making this album should not be under-valued. He is the thread that keeps it all together and his guitar tricks are simply some of the very best by anyone anywhere. Just take in the furious riffing of World Comin' Down. The man is a master of all styles and should receive far more attention! Drummer Brian Tichy also delievrs a powerful performance, with strong contributions in the songwriting dept also.
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