Generation X - Valley of the Dolls (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Generation X

Valley of the Dolls (1979)


The deeper I get into Billy Idol's discography, the harder it is for me to reconcile his solo work with that of his previous outlet, Generation X. Idol was "punk," with quotation marks, but Gen-X, that band was a legitimately solid pop-punk act. The group's second album, Valley of the Dolls, makes a case of the band's relevance. Produced by Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter, himself no stranger to finding the right balance between pop and rock, Dolls is a crucial listen for those looking to explore British punk's history.

Depending on one's perspective, Gen-X was either a little too clean for a punk band or a little too gritty for a pop rock band. Both perspectives are valid. Either way, though, Valley of the Dolls is the band's hardest hitting record. Opener "Running with the Boss Sound" and "Night of the Cadillacs" deliver a perfect pop-punk one-two punch. "Paradise West" is a little too maudlin and goes on a little too long, but "Fridays Angels" is such an infectious little rocker that the record still flows.

That said, the record is not without a few flaws. Aside from the aforementioned "Paradise West," "Valley of the Dolls" has a show tunesy quality to it that doesn't really jive with the record. Same goes for epic closer "The Prime of Kenny Silvers." Still, "English Dream" comes in between the two, that's one of the catchiest pop-punk songs of all time.

While Gen-X never influenced generations like the Clash or the Sex Pistols did, there's still something to be said for the band's mix of pop and punk elements. The band's first two records really are dynamite.