November 5, 2014 Billy Idol – Kings & Queens of the Underground (Album Review)
In 1983, William Michael Albert Broad (aka Billy Idol) described the founding of his professional name as a “goof”. Thirty one years later however, labeling the legend as an “idol” to so many is anything short of a “goof”. In 1976, he joined (not yet selecting its well known name) Siouxsie and the Banshees, leading to the punk bands Chelsea and Generation X, and then of course his ground breaking solo career as Billy Idol; the front man has seen it all, almost every major change, fad switch-over, rise and fall of MTV, boy bands, etc. Billy Idol has been there, done that, and wrote the book (literally as he just released his autobiography). His musical impact is undeniable, one cannot even begin to reminisce about the 1980s without including “White Wedding,” “Eyes Without a Face,” or “Mony Mony” on the soundtrack to the road trip down memory lane. His legacy, unlike so many, did not fade away with the decade of decadence as he brought out a new look to Cyber-Punk with the single “Shock to the System” and produced one hell of a group fantasy with “Rock the Cradle of Love” in the 1990s. Offer forth whatever cliché you would like, Billy Idol was the Rock/Punk god the world just could not bring down. Now in 2014, Billy Idol has returned with a vengeance, unleashing his seventh full length album, Kings & Queens of the Underground, along with his autobiography!
Numerous artists through the years have prided themselves on staying true to their sound and not wavering, and while many of them are blessed in delivering great material, there is a different breed of artists, the ones who are true to the art yet continue to evolve. Billy Idol would have to be one of the spokespersons to this approach as he has reinvented himself time and time again. The new album is a “bringing it home” type of album paying homage to his strides through the decades. The very core of this approach starts in absolute style with the first track “Bitter Pill,” with an almost Industrial/Country essence to it. Before some fans go running at the mere mention of the word “country,” understand that there were few better at conveying a story than old school country artists. Idol’s lyrics of reflection coupled with Steve Steven’s impeccable guitar talent are on full display from the start, declaring, “This is our history and we are breaking it down for you.” The song is then followed by “Can’t Break Me Down” which brings out a classic Generation X-esque Punk feel blended with a modern approach. Like a streaming timeline, we are lead to the track “Save Me Now” exposing all to a different approach of ’80s’ Billy Idol, hard to miss that lower tone of Idol’s voice, literally hypnotizing the listener and sure to have the female fan base swooning. This album demonstrates the full growth of Billy Idol and Steve Stevens through the years, a partnership that has survived accidents, drug abuse, and so much more while inspiring generations of artists the world over.
Longevity is anything but a guarantee in this industry, but there is something to be said for those who do it so well it would seem almost effortless. The level of honesty and reflection on Kings & Queens of the Underground is undeniable, the listener is taken on a brutally honest journey exposed to the very soul and strife of Billy Idol. Unmatched honesty is key to this album and highly recommended to be the soundtrack to the new autobiography that is sure to consume your every sense. Billy Idol and company, directly or indirectly, have created a rare experience that will sure to have their most die-hard fans hitting the repeat button while enticing a whole new generation of fans; one of this year’s best. CrypticRock proudly gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.