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There are three remarkable issues that the release of Devil's Playground
raises. The first is that, as this is Billy Idol
's first album in over a decade, there's the implication that the world's original cuddly punk popster was releasing albums well into the 1990s (who knew?). The second is that Billy Idol, as the aforementioned cuddly punk popster, actually had a lot more in common with 80s American poodle rockers like Bon Jovi and Motley Crue than anything to do with the UK's punk scene. The third (and arguably most important) is that Mr Idol has quite a mischievous sense of humour--the lyrics for "Plastic Jesus" and "Yellin' at the Christmas Tree" are genuinely funny, and not in an ironic, so bad they're good, way. And though he looks a bit worse for wear on the album's sleeve, and though his voice has changed greatly in the years since his 1980s heyday, Devil's Playground
is a rather entertaining rock album. "World Comin' Down" is a proper, jump-around-the-room rocker, while "Scream" has as much swagger as anything he's ever done. And it's a pace and standard that's kept up for most of Devil's Playground
. Much of the album's success is down to the licks of guitarist Steve Stevens--Idol's long-time partner sounds better than ever on this reunion album, and this could be the start of many mutually fruitful collaborations. Those who still love Billy Idol will probably argue that he's always sounded like this, but for those of us who best remember his 80s hits, Devil's Playground
is a rock & roll revelation. --Robert Burrow