The Roadside (ep)
BFI Records, Inc, under exclusive license to Dark Horse Records/BMG rights
This is one of the first sets of recordings by Billy Idol in nearly a decade. He’s been on the circuit touring but not much in the way of new music. I’m sure many of his fans are just happy with the hits anyway and don’t need any “toilet-break” songs, and you might think that returning with just an EP after seven years or so suggests there’s nothing much in the tank, but The Roadside finds Idol pumped and perked-up – and sounding consistent with his post-80s material.
That is to say there’s nothing here to rival the legendary work that was captured on compilations like Vital Idol – where Billy could somehow pantomime heavy rock music in the shape of perfect pop. But there’s nothing flat-out embarrassing here either.
If I’m not convinced by Rita Hayworth, the opener (it sounds a bit, erm, Guns ‘n Roses…) I certainly do like Bitter Taste (that not-quite-baritone-burr balladry of Eyes Without A Face would be the reference). And though U Don’t Have To Kiss Me Like That suggests Idol has been doing nothing but listen back to his own records, you can’t deny the spirit of it. There’s something there. It’s big dumb fun basically. And I love recognising that cheeky grumble of his.
The final song, Baby Put Your Clothes Back On is lesser, very dated-feeling. But his fans should be happy enough with this – and with the EP. Two rockers, two ballads. Billy sounding like Billy. Idol no longer idle. Etc.