Billy Idol has recorded two brand new songs for The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself, a new career-spanning CD, Deluxe Edition CD/DVD and digital collection to be released June 24 by Capitol/EMI. The two songs, “John Wayne” and “New Future Weapon,” will be exclusively available on the new release, which features all seven of Idol’s Top 10 hits among its 18 tracks, including two #1s. The Deluxe Edition adds 13 music videos making their DVD release debuts, including two alternate video edits that have never before been released in any format. The CD and CD/DVD packages are both designed by Shepard Fairey and include liner notes by David Wild.
The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself gathers together the music that Billy Idol has taken to stages all around the world, as well as two brand new songs. The new tracks find the man still at the peak of his powers, working with longtime partner and guitar great Steve Stevens and his other current band members, drummer and songwriting collaborator Brian Tichy and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. On June 24, Idol will perform songs from the new release on the outdoor stage of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Of his new song “John Wayne,” Idol says, “When I’m singing it, I’m thinking about the characters John Wayne played. They were usually men with a flaw in their character or something dark in their past they’re trying to rise above before the end of the movie. So it’s not about the kick-in-the-door John Wayne or the barroom fight John Wayne -- it’s more the man who overcomes.”
Of the collection’s other new track, “New Future Weapon,” Idol says, “I was reading about the new stealth fighter plane the Raptor, and I was struck by the ambivalence of the pilot talking about the enemy. Musically, it’s got a bit of the Spaghetti Western about it. It’s a sick song, as you might expect.”
The two new songs are produced by Josh Abraham, whose production discography includes Velvet Revolver’s double platinum, Grammy Award-winning Contraband, 30 Seconds To Mars’ platinum A Beautiful Lie, Staind’s eight-times platinum Break The Cycle and double platinum 14 Shades of Grey, Limp Bizkit’s seven-times platinum Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, and Courtney Love's America's Sweetheart, among many others.
The Deluxe Edition CD/DVD adds 13 music videos that helped forever define Idol as a rock icon, including previously unreleased edits of “Cradle Of Love” and “Hot In The City.” “We worked hard so there would be some consistency to the videos and so we wouldn’t have to be embarrassed one day,” Idol says. “We sweated over them - video hell, we would call it.” As with his vital music, Idol liked to use his videos to shake things up as much as possible. “That was a pretty bland time of corporate rock and afternoon television music, and we wanted to bring in a little more danger and after hours fun into it,” he explains. “Maybe that’s why we looked like vampires.”
Part of the Bromley Contingent of early Sex Pistols fans, Billy Idol was inspired to front the popular British punk band Generation X from 1976 until the band’s break-up in 1981. From there, he decided to try his luck in America. “I definitely took punk with me wherever I’ve gone,” Idol says. “That was the whole idea really. I wanted to transform my music, but I didn’t want to ever lose sight of that punk rock attitude. Whether we turned to hard rock or disco or whatever the hell else we did over the years, that helped give the music a spirit it would not have had if I hadn’t come out of the punk movement.”
Idol’s first solo album was released by Chrysalis in 1982, but it didn’t hit its chart peak until the following year. The self-titled album’s “White Wedding” and “Dancing with Myself” (a new version of a song Idol first recorded with Generation X) were major club hits in 1983, fueled by heavy video play on MTV. “White Wedding” also crossed over to the Top 5 of the Mainstream Rock chart, while “Hot In the City” made the Top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100, and Billy Idol was certified gold with U.S. sales totaling more than 500,000 units.
Idol really smashed through with his 1984 double platinum album, Rebel Yell. Stocked with major radio and MTV hits, including “Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Catch My Fall,” the album reached #6 on the Billboard 200.
1987’s platinum-selling Vital Idol collection presented his hits in expanded remixes, including the chart-topping smash “Mony, Mony;” that same year, Idol released a new album, the platinum Top 10 Whiplash Smile, with its standout singles “To Be A Lover” and “Don’t Need A Gun.” The platinum-certified Charmed Life album followed in 1990 with “Cradle Of Love” and “L.A. Woman.” 1993’s Cyberpunk included the Top 10 Mainstream Rock hit “Shock To The System.” A platinum-selling Greatest Hits collection, released in 2000, re-charged Idol’s catalog, and 12 years after his last new album release, he returned with Devil’s Playground in 2005 (Sanctuary). The album’s “World Comin’ Down” is included in the new collection’s tracks.
“It’s funny what you have to do to carve out your own niche,” Idol says with a laugh when asked about the new collection’s Idolize Yourself title. “But everyone should idolize themselves, shouldn’t they?” The niche that Billy Idol has created over these past few decades is no laughing matter. Beyond the platinum sound and the platinum hair, Idol is respected as the original punk rocker who long ago found a way to take that sneering punk attitude to the top of the charts.
Listening back to The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself, the man himself felt a real sense of pride. “I was knocked out,” Idol says. “For all the up and downs, there’s some quality there. So I feel like I can walk into my house justified. The highs were very high -- sometimes too high -- and the lows were low, but somehow it still holds up.”