Sound: Billy Idol may not be the MTV darling that he was in the 1980s, but he's one artist that has remained active over the past 30 years. Mr. Rebel Yell himself is over 50 but is still in the music game, although his past few releases haven't been met with the fanfare that his earlier records were. Idol has such a charismatic presence that you often forget he's got solid vocal skills and range, and you get a truly good sense of just how good he is in the new compilation album The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself.
It also becomes quite evident that Idol is a bit of enigma musically speaking. His look screamed punk in the '80s, but he has been known to cover hit pop songs (Mony, Mony) and tackle ballads with ease. The Vest Best Of Idol covers all of the obvious favorites like Rebel Yell, White Wedding, and Cradle Of Love, and it's pretty impressive to see the bulk of singles he's churned out over the years. Many would consider his earliest singles to be the highlights, and those individuals would have a point. The tracks that Idol collaborated on with Steve Stevens are the standouts in terms of phenomenal guitar work and cool synth lines.
The 2 exclusive new tracks on the compilation, John Wayne and New Future Weapon, definitely seem to take Idol into another direction altogether. The focus is now more on Idol rather than the instrumentation, and it's true that the vocalist has the chops to deliver a fine melody. Strong vocals can only take you so far, and although the new tracks are likeable, they don't hold a candle to the originality of songs like Rebel Yell. And if you are fond of nostalgia, the 2nd disk in The Very Best of Idol features 13 of Idol's videos that many of us grew up watching on MTV. // 9
Lyrics: With the exception of the L.A. Woman and Mony, Mony covers and To Be A Lover, Idol had a heavy hand in the lyrical content. Many of these tracks came out of the 80s during a fluff-driven period, but you have to give credit to Idol for writing some of the most memorable lines to come out of that decade. The chorus to Rebel Yell screams sing-along, while White Wedding is eerily intriguing. These are not necessarily meant to be life-altering lyrics, but they certainly get your attention. // 9
Overall Impression: After hearing the multiple styles that Idol has taken on during his career, I have a newfound respect for the singer. Many might not know that he even dabbled in a punk-like style for a while, and you can hear the product of that exploration on World Comin' Down. It's actually one of the weaker tracks among the bunch, simply for the fact that Idol has been singing so long that it sounds a little bizarre when he tries on a rough-around-the-edges delivery with a rather generic punk format. It was respectable that he tried out something a little different, however, regardless of what the financial outcome would be.
A separate Idol compilation album was released in 2001, and many of the tracks mirror what you'll hear on The Very Best Of Idol. However, the 2nd disk does set the new release apart, while chronicling Idol's huge impact on the video world. Idol was and is the consummate entertainer (some fascinating hybrid of Elvis Presley and a Sex Pistol), and seeing the videos just seems to enhance the Billy Idol experience. // 9