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Billy Idol - Devil's Playground (Cover Artwork)

Billy Idol

Billy Idol: Devil's PlaygroundDevil's Playground (2005)
Sanctuary Records

Reviewer Rating: 2.5


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Billy Idol. While there isn't much need for an introduction here, it should be iterated that Devil's Playground is his first proper full-length since 1993's ill-received Cyberpunk, Idol's critically panned foray into fields of electronic pop-rock and dialog samples. So while Idol has definitely reel.
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Billy Idol. While there isn't much need for an introduction here, it should be iterated that Devil's Playground is his first proper full-length since 1993's ill-received Cyberpunk, Idol's critically panned foray into fields of electronic pop-rock and dialog samples. So while Idol has definitely reeled in his attempts at far-reaching creativity in the twelve years between (which also includes a re-released version of his sophomore effort Rebel Yell, an "essentials" compilation and a Vh1 Storytellers disc), there's still a few missteps on Devil's Playground that show Idol hasn't completely rediscovered his niche.

The first few songs on the disc are solid and catchy punk-infused rock'n'roll songs that fans of Stiff Little Fingers and latter-era Social Distortion may or may not get some kicks out of due to the the poppy nature. Idol, or his production team at least, has obviously rounded up a competent set of musicians to help back him up. "Scream" is a throwback to his fist-clenched 80's days and the opener "Super Overdrive" shows that Idol can be pretty versatile with his voice when he wants to be. The acoustic-tinged verses and aggressive nature of their following cynical chorus of "Rat Race" makes for a standout, too.

However, Idol starts to slip as the disc reaches its midsection with genre-hopping that just doesn't seem fit for him. The bells-led, holiday-themed "Yellin' At the X-Mas Tree" is a ridiculously untimely, eventually wonderfully-marketable yet silly gaffe of an album track describing a father's Christmastime drunken rage; the song is far better suited as a hidden bonus feature or the like. The laid-back folk-trucker romp of "Lady Do Or Die" seems a bit out of place even if taken as more literal Ness influence. "Evil Eye" contains a chorus and bridge representing the outfit's take on early 90's aggress-grunge that sounds like it was ripped straight from Velvet Revolver's Contraband, complete with inane pop radio club-beat production echo effects usually reserved for bland major label pop-rock acts. The tracks that make up the rest of â?¦Playground are either bad attempts at mainstreaming or halfway-met ballads that'll leave you wondering if and when the album will ever finish.

In his defense, Idol's voice seems stronger than ever all through the disc. His range is astounding considering the wear and tear it's been through; subtle melody stays intact while he retains an abrasiveness even against the very crystal clear production. Granted it might just be the result of loaded clean up work, but he sounds great nonetheless.

Lyrically, Idol isn't necessarily treading the same ground he's walked on, but it isn't drastically different either. He answers doubts about his comeback in a third-person narrative in "Super Overdrive," calls for a homebound return of a barroom gal in one of the disc's sunnier tracks, "Sherri," and lets sins roll ballad-style to a dashboard "Plastic Jesus."

What we're left with is a comeback album about halfway full of fairly inspired, catchy rock songs, and another half with questionable "experimenting." You can't fault Idol for wanting to explore, but it just doesn't fit him. Devil's Playground definitely has the potential to put out a few hits, but it's likely that regardless of the selection, they won't quite be fully representative of the album.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
RoyalWithCheese (February 26, 2009)

Rebel Yell!

punkrockphil (May 19, 2005)

I've been listening to Billy Idol since the Generation X days, and to say that this record is terrible is a total mis statement. Billy Idol was never a 2nd or third generation punk rocker. You can't compare his punk ethos to that of the later punk bands. His contemporaries were the Clash, the Pistols, the Buzzcocks, The Jam. With only the exception of the Pistols, his other contemporaries branched out in new directions. None of them get blasted the way Billy does. Maybe because he had so much success with his solo stuff, he becomes a big target. That being said, this record falls right in place with what he has been doing. Sure Cyberpunk was a misstep ( of sorts). It was really too far ahaed for mainstream consumption. I mean Geez it came with a Multimedia floppy disk. ( no one was doing that ). This Album Rocks!!. Especially track two. World coming down. The review above implies that Mike Ness was the inspiration for Lady Do or Die, but really thats straight out of Johnny Cash's Playbook if anything. ( which is where Mike ness is coming from anyway) The other really country tinged piece is Plastic Jesus. for those that didn't know, this is an old folk tune, that has been covered by the likes of The FlameTrick Subs, The Flaming Lips, and Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon. Its a pretty funny song and Idol makes it his own. Scream is probably my least favorite, but its the one thats most recognizable as an Idol song. Steve Stevens, who can have a tendancy to overplay his guitar parts does a great job here with limiting himself to where the song needs it. Cheers to Keith Foresey for producing a great, and sure to become classic Idol record.

Anonymous (May 15, 2005)

BILLY IDOL IS THE KING OF PUNK so ROCK ON and shut up hater

Anonymous (May 15, 2005)

Billy Idol is BILLY IDOL and that is that !! You are not punker if you don't like the man!! he clean now and looks great for someone I think is fifty BILLY ROCK ON !!!!!

Anonymous (May 15, 2005)

Brian ! Billy cd has I know five songs that are billy way of singing like track 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 ,10 and 11 is funny western song tooooooo funny , I do agre with sound of his voice strong for fifth year old man , not bad !! concert he got the fans going pumpimg the fist , jumping around, all concert have SOLD OUT so big fans base for this fifth year old . Must bands today have one maybe two songs you can sing to I count 6 on this album . The problem is nobody want to play somebody from the 80's so he gets no ear time only fan support , he fits in with today style Billy LIVE on in 2005 and on Rock On!!!!

Anonymous (May 15, 2005)

Billy is back! is back with his style and sound !! I agree with the comment blow this one , give the guy some credit he still going with it, he is not Idol without the pumped fist spike blonde hair . album is great it has everything hard and soft and left field but that Billy . To me Billy was mainstream punk his music made it here and in UK not like others , so he fell on hard times what band hasn't but kept kick out music . Music today has no light to it ,it is all dark yelling make on sence sound but that is what kids are in to has we was in the 80's .Devil's playground is good come back album for him it scores big with me . If you are reading this and are on this site must be some what a fan and that O K just say HELL YE

Anonymous (May 15, 2005)

This cd is great for Billy , the songs on this album has a little of it all from all of his album , the man can sing give him that ,he has his own style and sound . People today can not look or listen to bands that came out of the 80 , listeners today whatever they call the music today all sound the same NO BODY SOUNDS LIKE BILLY, bands can learn a little from VET/ like him . we seen two shows Tampa and Orlando my girlfriend is not a fan but said he had great fan control and signing everything that was thrown at him and the music sounded great like on the cd, also he thank the fans for support over the years as well on wagon dry for 2 years . Look he is BILLY FUCK IDOL and he still hanging around and making album more than I can say for most band ONE HIT , Last point! IF bands today don't have their own style they all sound the same who are they but hear his voice guess whoand that a fact,I just hate band basher , If you are punker you must 40 year old because punk die years ago with top five SEX PISTOL,DEAD KENNEYS, GEN X CIRCLE JERKS , BILLY FUCK IDOL and more listen -love it - and like diff/sound . YES I'M FAN

Anonymous (April 14, 2005)

idol is on track once again !! after cyber-relapse

Anonymous (April 13, 2005)

This cd is well worth your money it rocks. These guys that review music dont always listen to the cds like they should because its part of their job. I believe you cant really appreciate a cd unless you give it at least two listens. Billy is unbelieveable live and should not be missed. He puts alot of energy on stage and has fun doing it. Check him out while you can-- dont miss him.

Anonymous (April 10, 2005)

Rat Race, Billy idol the Best, Fuck the Rest!

Anonymous (April 7, 2005)

Of course this album the best!

Silverrain (April 1, 2005)

Billy the best! And Devil's playground too.
Hahaha. Billy will the best. Forever!

jyo_tirmaya (March 30, 2005)

oops -- i meantt to give it a couple more stars...

jyo_tirmaya (March 30, 2005)

this is a good CD. i'm not even a fan of billy. but he's genuinely punk. and at 49 that's no easy feat.

Anonymous (March 29, 2005)

The only ones that blow are the fucking lamers on this board who obviously have no idea what good "Rock" is anymore 'cuz they been brainwashed by the asswiping crap on the airwaves the last 10 years! Devil's Playground is one of the best "Real Rock" albums I've heard in years! You lamers want some cheese with your whine? Pull yer heads out and smell some serious "Rock" for a change!!

Anonymous (March 29, 2005)

The only ones that blow are the fucking lamers on this board who obviously have no idea what good "Rock" is anymore 'cuz they been brainwashed by the asswiping crap on the airwaves the last 10 years! Devil's Playground is one of the best "Real Rock" albums I've heard in years! You lamers want some cheese with your whine? Pull yer heads out and smell some serious "Rock" for a change!!

Anonymous (March 29, 2005)

Billy Idol fucking rules. Devil's Playground is an awesome album. what a comeback!!

Anonymous (March 28, 2005)

BSD, kill yourself.

Anonymous (March 28, 2005)

Will he just OD now? blah what crap!

strontiumdog (March 26, 2005)

yes, some songs are lame, but the rest is pure idol. fans will be happy. the fans who are true, not those who want to be cool. wannnabe's will still be that. the guitar is Steve Stevens at his best, and the songs are triple overload. Billy's singing is spot on. listening to it brings a smile to my face. really good. Buy the CD, be happy, and "scream".

Anonymous (March 26, 2005)

nice day for a... whie wedding

Anonymous (March 25, 2005)

Spike > Billy Idol

Anonymous (March 24, 2005)

Did you know that Lars from Rancid is a product of a DNA lab gone wrong? Well they combined Billy Idol's sexist powers and costume and crossed with Bruce Springsteen's hometown love and blue collar supervision. To create a Super Hero for the 7-11 lifestyle= LARS! Rock on Weekend Warror!

Anonymous (March 23, 2005)

in other news, i am punker than thou

Anonymous (March 23, 2005)

get over yourselves "punker than thou" fanatics. youre as pathetic as fundamentalists.

Anonymous (March 23, 2005)

Rock the Cradle of Love.

Anonymous (March 23, 2005)

Generation X has always blown too. Overrated pop-punk. "Dancing w/Myself" is the lamest song ever recorded. Billy ain't punk, never will be. The original MTV darling sellout. ALSO: The comment about, pose, pose, sneer, dye hair, then it becomes white from age is a fucking LAUGH RIOT! Cheers to its author!

rkl (March 23, 2005)

to everyone that says "billy idol has always blown.." etc, check out generation x. good stuff, hardly cheese-poop or whatever other term you want to bandy around.

that being said, this album wasnt worth the download.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

where is the fiya review?

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

pose.......pose.....sneer......dye hair......pose......get so fucking old that your hair is actually white now....pose some more.....

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

Billy Idol sucks sooooooooo damn bad, he's more cheese-metal than punk. This guy really HAS always blown. This is the worst comeback since Vanilla Ice.

muskawo_ (March 22, 2005)

no one had edit yet? I meant added it yet.

muskawo_ (March 22, 2005)

on an unrelated note.....why hasn't anybody posted a review of the Evens debut yet? I have the cd but haven't had the chance to sit down and listen to it from beginning to end yet.

I'd review it but if theres one thing I wouldnt wanna do as a first review here, it would be any album with any connection to Ian Mackaye. When did it come out in the US? I bought it on the weekend out here and was suprised no one had edit yet when I got on the computer to look.

CrookedSuperhero (March 22, 2005)

A cheap shot at Unwritten Law. It dosen't get any better than that.

BrandonSideleau (March 22, 2005)

on an unrelated note.....why hasn't anybody posted a review of the Evens debut yet? I have the cd but haven't had the chance to sit down and listen to it from beginning to end yet.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

I saw him at SXSW and he completely ripped the place apart. I haven't out to pick up the new cd yet, but what i heard played live wasn't bad. Regardless of this CD, you really should see him live.

BrandonSideleau (March 22, 2005)

well...this is unexpected. Billy Idol blows, I remember a year or two ago he played at some civic arts center in this real suburban conservative area, a couple miles from my apartment. I remember all the little 16 year old girls having a shit fit and going to the show. How lame. The only other bands to play the place were symphonies and alt-country crap. This guy always has blown.

Anchors (March 22, 2005)

Bill Brasky once drank a full glass of liquid LSD with his eggs. Then he slept for 8 months straight. When he woke he rubbed his eyes and said, 'All in all, I prefer gin.'"

To Bill Brasky!

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

billy idol once slapped a member of the party i was with then did a line of coke of his stripper-girlfriends ass, while we all looked on in disbelief.

-beau cocky

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

"snitches and talkers get stiches and walkers"

a better one is:
Bitches & snitches get bodybags & ditches

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

billy idol rules but i doubt i'll get this. i have his s/t casette (yea casette) from way back in the day...its great shit. white wedding, dancing w/ myself, hot in the city, come on come on. but really you gotta love billy idol. i mean who doesnt like 'rebel yell'? 'cradle of love' was sweet too.

paul

joeg (March 22, 2005)

"This guy hasn't written any good songs since Gen. X broke up... Sorry, but making money off nostalgia is bullshit.

-BSD"

Oh NO you di'int! Eyes Without A Face fucker.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

he treats women like objects.

see, billy idol gets it, i dont know why she doesnt.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

good review

im-dead (March 22, 2005)

"Oh Billy, Billy, Boy, when is it you're gonna find what your looking for?..."

Wow, how appropriate "Here's a nice piece of shit!!"

CellarDoor (March 22, 2005)

Billy Idol's career climaxed with his cameo in The Wedding Singer.

Drew Barrymore is overrated.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

snitches and talkers get stiches and walkers

greenparticle (March 22, 2005)

touche.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

it's just NOT POSSIBLE

and yet you managed it.

greenparticle (March 22, 2005)

hahahaha, i would make a comment if i could stop laughing at billy's sneer on the cd cover, but i can't. it's just NOT POSSIBLE.

damn musicians, get some better artwork.

Anonymous (March 22, 2005)

This guy hasn't written any good songs since Gen. X broke up... Sorry, but making money off nostalgia is bullshit.

-BSD

andrew13 (March 22, 2005)

i liked it... scream and christmas tree are probally the 2 best tracks on it... the majority of it is enjoyable though...

ubershep (March 22, 2005)

I've never seen such cheap sneers.

TheOneTrueBill (March 22, 2005)

I figured the link in the review was going to be to the Lit review that was up a few months ago.

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