Release Date: Mar 22, 2005
Record label: Sanctuary
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
There's no discernible difference between Sir Billiam Idol, as Smash Hits christened this "punk" peacock in the 1980s, and Billy Fucking Idol, as his new record company has it. The bodybuilder's physique and sneering expression haven't given way to age; nor has his conviction that singing pedestrian clunk-rock is tantamount to signing on as Satan's orchestra leader. His return, after 12 years, to a world where playing conkers is considered more dangerous than listening to a Billy Idol album is poignant - but not as poignant as his insistence on mining a decades-old motorcycle crash and drug addiction for lyrical inspiration.
The most remarkable thing about the 12-year wait between Billy Idol's fifth album, Cyberpunk, and his sixth, Devil's Playground, isn't the enormity of the gap between records, it's that almost nobody noticed that he was gone. Such was the magnitude of Cyberpunk's failure -- it erased him from popular consciousness, shaming Billy into an ignoble exile where he barely seemed to register outside of a cameo in Adam Sandler's The Wedding Singer. Frankly, the muddled William Gibson-inspired techno-rock mess did carry a rancid stench that would take over a decade to shake, but the odd thing about Devil's Playground isn't that Billy pretends Cyberpunk doesn't exist -- frankly, any artist with sense would do that -- it's that he now pretends that he's always been a metalhead, as if his posturing in the '80s was more than an affectation.