Sunday, November 10, 2013

Billy Idol - Rebel Yell

Today (November 10th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Rebel Yell, the second full-length solo studio album from Billy Idol. This one went to number 36 in the UK, number 16 in Australia and Switzerland, number 8 in Canada, number 6 on the US Billboard Album chart, and number 2 in Germany and New Zealand.

The title track opens up side one. “Rebel Yell”, the first single, went to number 62 in the UK, number 7 in Australia, and number 3 in New Zealand. Thanks to a video in heavy MTV rotation, in the US it hit number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the Mainstream Rock charts. Co-writer Steve Stevens delivered that opening instrumental on his guitar alone, even though it sounds like a guitar and keyboard combined. This one was a huge dance hit during my freshman year of college, playing at most parties. We would all chant to the “more more more” part of the chorus while thrusting our right fists in the air.

The mid-tempo “Daytime Drama” draws to mind afternoon soap operas and the often-unrequited love and pining that filled many a storyline. It served as the B-side to the fourth and final single from the record.

“Eyes Without a Face” features Sal Cuevas on bass with background vocals from Idol’s then girlfriend Perri Lister. As the second single, it went to number 21 in Switzerland, number 18 in the UK, number 14 in Italy, number 12 in Australia, number 10 in Germany, and number 4 in New Zealand and on the US Billboard Hot 100. The lyrics tell of an absence that makes the heart ache. The haunting main melody fits perfectly to the imagery of the eyes. And those guitar solos on the latter part of the track are so powerful.

“Blue Highway”, the B-side to the second and third singles, is easily my favorite deep track from this album. It is one of those songs that I will crank up the radio every time it comes on; I just love the pedal-to-the-metal energy of it. And just when you think it is over - BAM - another grinding minute closer.

Side two starts with sexually charged “Flesh For Fantasy”, the third single. It went to number 54 in the UK, number 30 in Italy, number 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 27 in Australia, number 20 in Switzerland, number 11 in Germany, number 8 on the US Mainstream Rock chart and number 5 in New Zealand.

“Catch My Fall”, with a saxophone solo from Mars Williams, was the final single. It reached number 61 in Australia, number 50 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 42 in New Zealand, number 24 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, and number 11 in Germany.

“Crank Call”, the B-side to the first single, is next.

“(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows” features Gregg Gerson on drums. Lyrically, it is a message about not fading into the woodwork and getting lost in the shuffle.

The record closes with “The Dead Next Door”, a somber ballad. It does seem slightly out of place with the rest of the album, but it is nice to see this other side to Idol.

As indicated by the ticket stub to the left, I had the pleasure of seeing Billy Idol perform live in concert a little over a month after this album came out. He came to the Rochester Institute of Technology campus to perform, where I was a freshman in college at the time. My roommate Steve, our friend Julie across the hall and I all went together. While I don’t remember all of the specifics of the show, I am certain he and the band played a lot of tracks from Rebel Yell.

Thirty years later, this one still remains an enjoyable record from that period. It reminds me of a time in my life when I was making tons of new friends and experiencing life on my own terms.

For the 1981 EP Don’t Stop, click here.

For 1982’s self-titled Billy Idol, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

After a recent spin, this turns out to be a weaker album overall than I remember it being. Although a remastered and expanded (albeit with demos and session takes) CD has been released, I'm still hoping for a Deluxe Edition with the 12" single mixes included.

No denying the power and sneering swagger of the title track, a rocked up variation on Alan O'Day's "Undercover Angel".

I listen to the stuttering cacophony of "Flesh For Fantasy (Below The Belt Remix)" more than the album version while preferring "Catch My Fall" to "Eyes Without A Face" which I've always regarded as a lesser track. (As far as Billy's ballads go, I like the gentle gliding "Sweet Sixteen", from Whiplash Smile, even though lyrically it is another one of those creepy I'm a grown man in love with a 16 year old girl songs like Benny Mardones' "Into The Night" or "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry.)

Now that you and Mark have shared your Idol concert experiences, I am searching hard for my two ticket stubs: One from 1983 (possibly 1984) and the other from 1987, shortly after I was married.