September 25, 2018 Billy Idol – Vital Idol: Revitalized (Album Review)
Moby, The Crystal Method, Paul Oakenfold, and Billy Idol? Sure! These disparate entities come together in the name of music on Vital Idol: Revitalized, a celebration of more than three decades of 1985’s Vital Idol. The remix collection – which features the likes of the aforementioned and many more – arrives to CD and digital on Friday, September 28th, thanks to Capitol/UMe. A 2LP 180-gram black vinyl in addition to a limited edition, color variant will follow on November 16th.
Singer-Songwriter as well as tried and true punk Billy Idol is, of course, a man who requires no introduction. Forging his own musical path by blending Punk, Hard Rock, Glam, and Dance, Idol built a name for himself with albums such as his 1982 self-titled debut, 1983’s Rebel Yell, 1986’s Whiplash Smile, and 1990’s Charmed Life. Singles such as “Rebel Yell,” “Dancing With Myself” and “Cradle of Love” helped to make Idol a household name and built him a strong and lasting musical career. To this day, Idol continues to record passionate new material and tour successfully, most recently releasing 2014’s Kings & Queens of the Underground.
More than 30 years ago, the groundbreaking Vital Idol compilation cemented the vibrancy of the Dance-Rock remix genre and offered up a groundbreaking first remix record by a Rock super-star. Besides being certified platinum, Vital Idol was accompanied by a version of “Mony Mony” that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, as well as hitting the Top 10 on the U.K. Singles chart. So, what better way to celebrate that early success and Idol’s pioneering capabilities than to author a new collection in exactly the same spirit? The 11-song Vital Idol: Revitalized does just this, bringing together some of the best of 2018’s EDM and remix artists, all in the name of this idol celebration.
Vital Idol: Revitalized begins with the beloved classic “White Wedding” receiving a bass-heavy remix from CRAY that highlights Idol’s signature vocals. It begins as a Rock-oriented remix and flows into a kind of Hip-Hop retelling that flows back into the more traditional Rock sound. Let’s be honest: it is interesting but nothing beats the original, untouched track! Somewhat conversely, “Dancing With Myself” retains more of its original flare in the RAC remix of the track that puts an emphasis on synths and drums, highlighting the song’s killer dance beat.
Tropkillaz remix of “Eyes Without A Face” puts an island beat vibe to the classic, highlighting Idol’s vocals and delivering a delicious synthetic tension. You’ll still love the original, but the remix is an intriguing, modern spin. Meanwhile, The Crystal Method is entrusted with the remix of the almighty “Rebel Yell,” and he does a superb job honoring the original track while adding a layer of 1980s-worthy synths and weighty electronic atmospherics that serve to highlight the original material, while adding a trippy vibe that never detracts from the song’s finesse.
Another master of his craft, Moby steps in to remix “(Do Not) Stand In The Shadows.” The end result is an electronic-heavy retelling that allows Idol’s vocals to shine amidst ambient pulsations and a throbbing beat. St. Francis Hotel’s remix of “Flesh For Fantasy” goes a little funky, dialing Idol down in the mix and weaving electronics around him, while Juan Maclean’s remix of “Catch My Fall” goes big on effects to create a trippy vibe perfect for October nights.
Paul Oakenfold, another master of his remix craft, takes on “One Breath Away” to create the perfect dance and clap-along version of the original. Next, “To Be A Lover” gets the full bass-beat treatment from DJDS, creating a sensual little beat with some seriously funky edges. Meanwhile, “Don’t Need A Gun” gets a fun, dance-y retelling from Shiba San, where a fat bass beat anchors the entire production. Ultimately, it all ends with Shotgun Mike placing his take on “Hot In The City,” which injects a gentle island-dusted sway into the track.
For those that purchase a digital download of the album, there’s a four-track bonus that includes “Mony Mony (Idol/Stevens Remix),” “One Breath Away (Paul Oakenfold Extended Remix),” “(Do Not) Stand In The Shadows (Moby Remix) (Half Time Version),” and “Save Me Now (Lost Dog Remix),” which is actually the work of Idol’s son, Willem Wolfe, with Brandon Rauch and Ed Bedrosian.
As a remix collection, Vital Idol: Revitalized is a fun listen and one that fans will, no doubt, want to add to their extensive Idol collections. Though it’s not likely to bring any new fans into the family, it will certainly perk up the ears of long-time Idol lovers. In truth, the remixes are all solidly intriguing interpretations of the original tracks, but the originals remain superior to these EDM retellings.
There is a little something Punk Rock that is lost in the synths and bass beats, that special quality that makes Billy Idol so wonderfully gritty and in-your-face and yet so deliciously accessible. Whatever the case, Vital Idol: Revitalized is an enjoyable little detour that is bound to make you dance in your chair! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Billy Idol’s Vital Idol: Revitalized 3.5 of 5 stars.