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.
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.