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Branson with myself: Billy Idol announces his (inevitable) Las Vegas residency
12:16 pm


Billy Idol
Las Vegas

Last we checked in with Billy Idol, almost exactly a year ago, he was declaring punk rock politically irrelevant, after himself having spent the ‘80s transforming it into arena pop for casuals, thus creating a nearly perfect irony loop. Now, he’s embarking on the penultimate stop for an aging, aesthetically irrelevant entertainer before owning an eponymous theater in Branson, MO—a residency gig in a Las Vegas hotel.  Via WTOP:

The punk rocker announced Monday a new Sin City residency with 12 dates in March and May.

It will be at the House of Blues venue inside the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel.

Tickets for the “Billy Idol: Forever” show go on sale this week and start at about $80, plus fees.

This makes Idol the first figure associated with punk to join the rarefied company of Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Liberace, Donnie & Marie, and Elvis by God Presley. We can think of no one more fitting to break that seal. Here he is in headier days, fronting Generation X, on T. Rex singer Marc Bolan’s short-lived ITV series Marc, the run of which was cut short when Bolan died in an auto accident. Had he lived, HIS Vegas show I’d love to have seen.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This Lynchian take on ‘Eyes Without a Face’ is the soundtrack to your next make-out session

One of the sad things about discovering new music in the post-Internet age is that, even with trusted recommendations, we often tend to give a new artist ten to twenty seconds to “click” with us before moving along to the next bit of input stimulus. One of the few drawbacks of having instantaneous access to nearly every song on the planet is that we tend to spend relatively less time warming up to the complex or unfamiliar than generations who grew up with an income that may have allowed for one or two new album purchases per week (supplemented with mixtapes made by friends and lovers). Access to less musical input dictated that more time would be spent absorbing a work and giving it multiple plays to sink in, even if it didn’t connect at first.

When Rat Rios’ cover of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” rolled across my desktop last week, I might not have even given it a play at all. It was just one bit in a constant stream of mostly useless information I’m subjected to on a daily basis. It did, however, come to me from someone with a trusted opinion, and Billy Idol is a guilty pleasure—so, click I did. THANKFULLY.

Perhaps it was the familiarity of the song itself (though Rat Rios’ cover sounds very little like the Billy Idol original). More likely, it was the production and singing style which immediately brought to mind Julee Cruise’s work with David Lynch. Yeah, it was probably that. Anyway, something about this hooked me well past the ten-to-twenty-second window I tend to give an incoming soundfile. I instantly fell in love and have played this song dozens of times in the past week.

I was surprised to find that the track hasn’t racked up many views (355 as of this writing) and Rat Rios’ Facebook page has less than a thousand fans (as of this writing). I’m hoping Dangerous Minds’ readership will love this as much as I do and explore the work of Samantha “Rat” Rios.

Rat Rios live. Via Facebook.
In a recent interview Rios cites David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti (longtime composer of David Lynch scores) as major influences. It’s fairly obvious when you hear this cut.

It’s rare that I think a remake or cover surpasses a well-loved original, but I’ve got to hand it to Rat Rios. This bedroom dream-pop version of “Eyes Without a Face” surpasses the Billy Idol original in every way.

I recommend committing it to mixtape for your next make-out session.

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Billy Idol says punk ‘didn’t make a dent in the political system’
10:31 am


Billy Idol

In an interview with The Big Issue, Billy Idol, punk rock’s biggest mainstream apostate, gave some blunt answers to questions about punk’s early days and its impact.

Was punk really the revolution it is supposed to have been or was it a natural evolution of what was going on at the time?
It did come in the form of a revolution but at the same time it was rock ‘n’ roll music forwarding itself into the new age. There was a lot of prog rock in the ’70s, which was cool and everything, but there became a glut and it was very difficult for anything else to break through. There were great guitar pieces but a dearth of songs.

Punk was not just about music though, was it also redefining politics and protest?
Punk rock opened the door to people like me – the marginalised. We got a chance to do something artistic with our lives. Everybody was exploring the artistic side partly because the Pistols said there is no future, there’s no future for you. That was a rallying call. That was the revolution.

The Pistols sang about there being no future, were they proved right?
I think they were to be honest. There was so much unrest. We believed in mixed communities and race mixing, not a country just for the white English. You got your head kicked in for it but that’s England sometimes! In some ways what’s going on now is reminiscent of those times.

So when you became famous and commercially successful, did you feel you had betrayed where you had come from?
Punk had done what it set out to do to a certain extent and it didn’t make a dent in the political system. Margaret Thatcher got in! That was scary. You went, “Fuck all that shouting, nothing happened!” It was demoralising. I didn’t see it as betraying anything at all. I saw it as moving on as an artist. I don’t think I did anything except follow my heart and that’s what punk was all about.

In his dismissal of punk’s political impact and his handwaving of sellout accusations, you kind of have to allow that the man has a point. Never mind what you think of his music, Thatcher DID get in. Thousands of “I Hate Reagan” bands made not even a tiny dent in Reagan’s horrifying 1984 landslide victory. And Fugazi, at last count, stopped ZERO wars, though Ian MacKaye’s brave anti t-shirt stance remains proudly unblemished. (No, it doesn’t.) It’s painful to allow this, but as populist music movements go, punk may think it has a lock on righteousness, but hippie was infinitely more effective in the realm of politics. Still, fuck hippies, though, don’t get me wrong…

There’s more to the interview. Not to spoil, but it turns out that “Dancing with Myself” actually was just about dancing. Far less surprisingly, Idol’s recently published memoir shares its title with that song.

Here’s a look at Idol when he sorta mattered some, as singer for Generation X. Marvel at the video editor’s complete disregard for synchronization!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The question he really seems to want to ask of Billy Idol: ‘Aren’t you just a prat?’
08:15 pm


Billy Idol
Andy Kershaw

It’s more than a little obvious from this 1985 clip from The Old Grey Whistle Test that interviewer Andy Kershaw hasn’t got much time for Billy Idol.

Kershaw refers to the “Sneer of the Year” as “show business” and wonders what the 12-year-old Idol would have thought of his current musical output. At moments Kershaw seems desperate to ask Idol straight up “Aren’t you just a prat?”

Kershaw’s contempt is barely concealed, but Idol takes it all in good grace. I must admit I have always been surprised that the bargain bin star of British punk pock became so successful in the States during the 1980s. It is perhaps a small reflection of what the country was like under Ronald Reagan’s leadership. Or cocaine. (At approx the 7:35 mark Idol talks about how drug dealers named narcotics after him in New York.)

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Andy Kershaw: The Rolling Stone’s Guide to painting & Decorating

H/T Carl Richard Aylott and Francis Wheen

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Siouxsie, Morrissey, John Lydon, Robert Smith and more get superhero makeovers

Brazilian designer Butcher Billy re-imagines Siouxsie Sioux, Mark Mothersbaugh, Ian Curtis, John Lydon, Morrissey, Robert Smith and Billy Idol as comic book superheroes. His series is called The Post-Punk / New Wave Super Friends.

Now only if there was a Mark E. Smith one. He’d probably have to be a supervillain, tho…


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
It’s a nice day for a white wailing: Billy Idol sings a Xmas favorite
05:34 pm


Billy Idol
White Christmas

From the Dangerous Minds’ archives:

Doc Marten meets Dean Martin in Billy Idol’s plodding version of ‘White Christmas,” which has all the appeal of a Christmas stocking full of steaming reindeer shit.

The musicians backing him sound like a German wedding band after an afternoon of knocking back steins of hefeweizen at the local beer garden. It don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that swing and these cats couldn’t swing if they were hanging from a lamppost in a hurricane.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Must see TV: Timothy Leary, Billy Idol, The Ramones and Television

While no one will mistake this for a historic meeting of the minds, it does have its odd charm. The Marshall McLuhan of punk Billy Idol chats with Timothy Leary about rock n’ roll, cyberspace and computers. “Pretty deep,” Joey Ramone observes while Television (the band) let old skool technologies like drums and guitars do the talking.

ABC In Concert, 1993.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Straight out of Bromley: Simon Barker’s photographs of Punk in the U.K. 1976-77

Punk may be long dead, but the interest in its music, ideas and artifacts continues. Over at the Independent, writer Michael Bracewell introduces a selection of photographs by Simon Barker, a former member of the legendary Bromley Contingent, the group of original Punks that included Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin, Jordan, Bertie “Berlin” Marshall, Tracie O’Keefe, and Billy Idol. Barker was a participant and witness to some of the key events during the 14 months, in 1976 and 1977, when Punk changed everything - as Bracewell explains:

[Barker’s] photographs share with Nan Goldin’s early studies of the New York and Boston sub-cultures of the 1970s, a profound and joyously audacious sense of youth going out on its own into new freedoms and new possibilities.

In this, Barker’s photographs from this period capture a moment when the tipping point between innocence and experience has yet to be reached. The model and sub-cultural celebrity Jordan, for example, is photographed as a self-created work of art – her features resembling a Picasso mask, her clothes more post-war English county librarian. The provocation of her image remains untamed and unassimilated, nearly 40 years later; and within her surrealist pose there is the triumph of art made in the medium of sub-cultural lifestyle.

Barker/Six was a member of the so-called ‘Bromley Contingent’ of very early followers of The Sex Pistols and the retail and fashion work of McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Other members would include the musicians Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin, and the writer Bertie Marshall, then known as ‘Berlin’ in homage to the perceived glamour and decadence of the Weimar republic. Originating from suburbia, but all determined to leave its security as soon as possible, the Bromley Contingent became the British sub-cultural equivalent, in many ways, of Andy Warhol’s notorious ‘superstars’ – volatile, at times self-destructive or cruelly elitist, but dedicated to a creed of self-reinvention and personal creativity.

It is this creed, as opposed to the swiftly commercialised music of punk, that Barker’s photographs from the period anatomise so well. At once intimate and forensic, austere and camp, documentary and touchingly elegiac, these photographs capture a milieu experiencing a heroic sense of being outsiders – a condition that has always been the privilege of youth, and which has long claimed many victims in its enticing contract with the thrill of taking an oppositional stance.

Read the whole article and see more of Simon’s photographs here.

Simon Barker’s book Punk’s Dead is available here.
Poly Styrene
The Banshees: Steven Severin, Kenny Morris and John McKay
With thanks to Derek Dunbar
More punk memories after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Holiday music from Hell: Billy Idol sings ‘White Christmas’

As I put together my annual worst Christmas songs list, I thought I’d give you a preview of things to come.

Doc Marten meets Dean Martin in Billy Idol’s plodding version of ‘White Christmas,” which has all the appeal of a Christmas stocking full of steaming reindeer shit.

The musicians backing him sound like a German wedding band after an afternoon of knocking back steins of hefeweizen at the local beer garden. It don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that swing and these cats couldn’t swing if they were hanging from a lamppost in a hurricane.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Goofy, young Trent Reznor playing a Billy Idol song in an early 80s ‘New Wave’ cover band
12:17 am


Billy Idol
Trent Reznor

Who’s this fresh-faced New Waver with the asymmetric poodle hairdo? (Hint: It’s not one of the Thompson Twins).

Nope, it’s future Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor back in the early 1980s playing and singing a cover of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” with his Cleveland, OH band-mates in “The Urge.”

Both astonishing and completely ridiculous.

More baby-faced New Waver Trent Reznor after the jump!

Thank you kindly Michael Backes!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Rebel Mother Down’: Danzig vs. Billy Idol vs. Rihanna
04:07 pm


Glenn Danzig
Billy Idol

My comrades at Dangerous Minds will probably have a shit fit at my posting another mashup, but this one was too damn cool to pass up. And I like anything that involves epic emoter, the queen of mean, Glenn Danzig.

DJ Schmolli mixes Rihanna with Danzig and Billy Idol for the “ultimate evil summer hit.”

I think it’s hilarious. Mucho macho meets a sweet reggaefied rhythm track and suddenly the boys don’t look so tough.

“Mother,” “Man Down,” “Rebel Yell.”

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment