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Bill Idol: VH1 Storytellers

  out of 4 Music Review: Bill Idol: VH1 Storytellers

Artist: Billy Idol
Genre: Rock
Release Date: February 2002

Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
No rating supplied

What do a lot of artists do if they have run out gas in their career? They put out several greatest hits packages, rehashed albums, or do the unplugged thing of course. VH-1 answered the call to MTV's unplugged program with their own version called VH-1 Storytellers. If you think about it there really doesn't have to be a reason to do one of these albums, people like to do them regardless where their careers are at. And besides, it's an awfully cool gig. Billy Idol made some great music back in the 80's, and that is what this collection focuses on. Steve Stevens, his guitar player, has moved on to more interesting and productive projects like "Bozzio, Levin, Stevens" (two releases on prog-rock label Magna Carta). So for him this is actually a step back. He is an awesome guitar player and Idol is fortunate that he came back to create some interest in his work once again. And he does so very successfully I might add.

Three quarters of the show Stevens plays acoustic sets that sound unbelievable, and Idol is in excellent voice, sounding as good as he ever did. By the time they get to the best they ever recorded, "Eyes Without A Face", the crowd is worked up into frenzy and they are ready to hear some electric rock and roll. The boys don't disappoint as Stevens cuts it loose on "Dancing With Myself" and he doesn't let up until the close of the show. The audience element is the most important factor on these types of recordings; they have an intimacy and warmness all their own, even if they are whooping it up and rocking out. It's a blast to listen to and the sound and production is always one step above terrific.

I personally feel the 80's was a vast wasteland for not only music, but society as a whole. Billy Idol was one of the few of that decade that made things a little better than it was despite the attitudes and the overindulgences. I was guilty too, I think I maxed out every credit card I had then, so I was no better than the next guy. For the emotionally bankrupt "Dancing With Myself" was a cold reality for a lot of people during that time. The me generation was in full bloom. Tracks one through thirteen is pure unadulterated Billy Idol, all the way from his "Generation X" days to the meat of his solo career. "Cradle Of Love" and "Need A Gun" is Idol at his sneering best and a precursor to the punk gone rock superstar. "Flesh For Fantasy" reeks of sexual inhibitions and heavy petting, eventually building up to a total musical orgasm. "Rebel Yell" was the anthem of youth worldwide for the first half of the 80's and "White Wedding" remains a staple of rock radio to this day. And how can anyone forget the compelling video of "Eyes Without A Face" on MTV? Not only was it a great song, the video was the clincher. It was one of those historical moments that opened a creative door to artists to find an additional and more effective way of reaching their audience to push it all over the top.

There isn't a dead horse in the entire lot on this collection. If you play it loud you will love this, I did. So get out your "Mony, Mony" and buy this CD. Go ahead; take a ride down the "Blue Highway" for the good old days.

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck February 16, 2002

  1. Cradle of Love
  2. Don't Need a Gun
  3. Flesh for Fantasy
  4. White Wedding
  5. Sweet Sixteen
  6. Got to Be a Lover
  7. Rebel Yell
  8. Kiss Me Deadly
  9. Eyes Without a Face
  10. Dancing With Myself
  11. Ready Steady Go
  12. Blue Highway
  13. Mony, Mony
  14. L.A. Woman


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