Billy Idol - Devil's Playground
Punk-influenced Hard Rock
13 songs (54'25)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month
I got this CD from the label several months ago and I've been wrestling with myself as to whether or not to review this for Metal Reviews. I remember the early to mid 80's only too well when Billy Idol was everywhere. You couldn't turn on the radio, watch MTV or MuchMusic without getting a constant barrage of his music and his snarling face. I respected his punk roots and his Generation X days but the severe over-exposure he got really tainted my view of him and his music. After reading several very positive reviews of this new album Devil's Playground, I decided it was time to give this album a listen. Not being overly optimistic, I was pleasantly surprised at just how solid this album really is.

Billy's career goes back to the late 70's and began with Generation X. He went solo in the 80's, releasing such smash albums as Billy Idol, Rebel Yell, Whiplash Smile, Vital Idol and Charmed Life. Songs like White Wedding, Rebel Yell, Hot In The City, Eyes Without a Face, Flesh For Fantasy, To Be A Lover, Dancing With Myself and the remake of the 60's track Mony, Mony were staples of both radio and TV video channels. Billy had used guitar wizard and collaborator Steve Stevens up until the Charmed Life album and that period was also marred by a serious motorcycle accident that left Billy with a fractured forearm and a broken right leg as well as suffered severe muscle damage that required several operations to repair. In the 90's, he released Cyberpunk which was met with mixed reviews and things came crashing down in 1994 when he suffered a drug overdose that nearly killed him. Taking stock in his life and his new family, he backed away from the music business and made several movie appearances including a role in the Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer. In 2001, a greatest hits CD package was released that went platinum, proving that there is still an audience for Billy Idol. Deciding to go back out on the road, he hooked up again with Steve Stevens as well as bassist Stephen McGrath, drummer Brian Tichy and keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater) to play some shows. While doing a gig in New York, he is approached by Sanctuary Records Group USA CEO Merck Mercuriadis about making another great Billy Idol album. Billy signed a deal and work began on this new album, Devil's Playground.

With the first 4 songs on Devil's Playground, Billy delivers the type of rock that he should've done in the first place many years ago instead of the ultra-commercial slop that was heaped upon us. Superoverdrive and World Comin' Down are both catchy and speedy with a great riff driven punky sound and he actually sings instead of the lip curled snarl that he used to use to belt out his tunes. Rat Race sees a more laid back acoustic intro turning into a pounding heavy metal riff fest with blasting power chords.....Billy never sounded like this before!!. With a great chorus and passionate vocal delivery, it's one of the best tracks I've ever heard from him hands down. With a classic, melodic and punky edge and chiming guitar riffs reminiscent of Dancing With Myself, Sherri reminds me of the mid 60's bubblegum era when bands had huge melodic choruses. With a great sing-a-long chorus and an uplifting, party-like quality, this one again sees Billy reaching new heights of melody and catchiness that surpass anything he's done before. The album is certainly front-heavy with the first 4 tracks packing quite a wallop and things mellow out a bit mid album. Songs like Plastic Jesus and Lady Do Or Die are more laid back acoustic numbers that have a country flavor to them. Scream, the first single from the album is a rather typical Rebel Yell type of track that got some airplay but it really doesn't represent the rest of the album and there's many others that are far better. Yellin' At The Xmas Tree is a comical number about an alcoholic father at Christmas time and its melodic and punky tone as well as comedic sense makes for a great track. Darker and more sinister themes are explored with Body Snatcher and Evil Eye with heavy riffs and more foreboding atmospheric qualities. The album closes with Summer Running, a track that features acoustic guitar and orchestration as well as heavier parts that all come together to create a solid reflective song that gently winds down the pace of the album.

I never thought I would be reviewing a Billy Idol CD for Metal Reviews but most of this album kicks some serious ass!! Devil's Playground is more of a hard rock album than the pop-styled hard rock that he produced in the 80's. This is a more "honest" album that shows the true Billy Idol and not the product of what some record company execs wanted. This is an album full of up tempo party hard rock that has some laid back tracks to break things up as well as some riff driven tracks that border on heavy metal. It's all here...the great soundtrack to a summer party. I've played this CD for several people who were surprised both at the quality and the fact that some of it doesn't even sound like a Billy Idol album. His voice has never sounded better and Steve Stevens provides some great heavy riffs for Billy's tunes. Before anyone starts flaming me for this review, as a prerequisite, you must have heard at least the first four tracks before letting the knives fly at me. Only then will I take any comments seriously. I'm not a big Billy Idol fan but I really like this album a lot. For those of you who like his classic material, this album is a must......the best album of his career.

Killing Songs :
Superoverdrive, Worlds Comin' Down, Rat Race, Sherri, Plastic Jesus, Yellin' At The X-mas Tree and Summer Running
Marty quoted 80 / 100
Jason quoted 50 / 100
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