With a permanently snarled upper lip and the perfect matinee-idol blond hair, Billy Idol made punk rock palatable for MTV and the masses. He did so by watering down punk's aggressive attack with dance grooves and stretches... more » of keyboards where no self-respecting punk would've dared. Essentially, he made pop music with a spare razor blade tossed in for fun. When it clicked, as it does on the anthemic title track of this, his career highlight, well, only an anarchist could complain. "Eyes Without a Face" and "Flesh for Fantasy" are two other early '80s radio stapes found here and they went further to establish Idol as a potential Vegas balladeer. This reissue contains some worthwhile demos. --Rob O'Connor« less
With a permanently snarled upper lip and the perfect matinee-idol blond hair, Billy Idol made punk rock palatable for MTV and the masses. He did so by watering down punk's aggressive attack with dance grooves and stretches of keyboards where no self-respecting punk would've dared. Essentially, he made pop music with a spare razor blade tossed in for fun. When it clicked, as it does on the anthemic title track of this, his career highlight, well, only an anarchist could complain. "Eyes Without a Face" and "Flesh for Fantasy" are two other early '80s radio stapes found here and they went further to establish Idol as a potential Vegas balladeer. This reissue contains some worthwhile demos. --Rob O'Connor
"I heard Rebel Yell again on VH1 a couple of weeks back and that prompted me to re-invest in the remastered version of this classic 80s album in the hope that the power and action of the original recording had been enhanced further. In nearly every case where i've bought a remastered version of an existing CD I have heard at least some sonic improvement. Not in this case. This must be the absolute worst example of remastering that i've ever heard. The original actually sounds better. Capitol Records should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this bass heavy, treble-free recording to ever make it to the pressing plant. The original was never that good and suffered from a poor mix but this new one has only enhanced the muffled and muddy sound even further. To say it's 24 bit is amazing as i've compared it to other modern remasterings and it doesn't even come close to the clarity and high resolution we expect from CDs these days.
It's a shame because it's a brilliant album, even now . If the music here doesn't get your adrenaline flowing then nothing will. What an album for turning the worst mood into a good one. The ultimate cheer-up CD. Sadly, now unlistenable thanks to so-called modern technology. Five stars for the music and minus 100 stars for the quality."
The Adventurous Sex Filled Life of a Young Billy Idol
Steven Menzer | Baltimore, MD United States | 12/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aside from the chart topping rockers and ballads we've all heard on the radio, this album does not dissapoint with bad filler songs. It is great throughout because of a variety of tempos and styles. Rarely will you find a more seamless blend of punk, disco, new-wave, and hard-rock.
"Rebel Yell" immediately grabs you with its dramatic synth opening and launches you into the album with an infectious almost disco hard-rock beat. Idol's lyrics describe a sexy urban nightlife with the convenient rhyme of heaven and seven eleven. After a frantic Steve Stevens guitar-solo the song breaksdown like something washing up against a beach of phat beats.
"Daytime Drama" is a nice midtempo guitar-driven track generously drenched with synth. "Eyes Without A Face" lays down a gorgeously smooth bass groove, courtesy of Sal Cuevas, for one of the best loved ballads of the 80's with nice female backing vocals by Perri Lister. Showcasing great dynamics, an extended bridge section hits you with guitars and great lyrics. Once again Idol is able to take you into the underworld with a reality that leaves little doubt that he's lived the life he describes.
On "Blue Highway" Idol evokes the wanderlust and free-spiritedness of the American highway while confessing to the dangerousness of its appeal with "Yes, I almost died on a blue highway." Eerily, Idol would later almost lose a leg in a motorcycle accident in the late 90's.
In his preoccupation with sex, Idol gives Prince a run for his money on "Flesh For Fantasy", another sleek rock track with a nice hook.
On the sophisticated "Catch My Fall", which features saxophone by Mars Williams, Idol makes a plea for brotherly love. "Crank Call" deals with the annoyance of receiving them and what would push one to make crank calls. This is the only mediocre track.
"Do Not Stand In The Shadows" is punk rock at its best. It brims with a positive motivating high-energy. It's a rebel voice pushing you to get out from underneath whatever oppresses you but fully in the light of day free of any nihilistic tendency toward self-destruction. This is one of those great songs that radio seems to overlook.
The closing track from the original release, "The Dead Next Door" is a jaw-dropping ethereal gem of a song. In many ways the best song of the album, this is quite capable of giving you goosebumps. Idol reaches down for a deeper sense of meaning reflecting on the contrast between a wedding and death. This simple, yet powerful song is not to be missed.
The five bonus tracks are session takes and demos of the album songs in a rawer form that make this cd an excellent value. Stripped of its punchy production "Rebel Yell" reveals the spontaneous interplay between guitar and synth. "Motorbikin'" catches Idol emulating an almost Elvis-like croon, against a guitar driven beat. Devoid of saxophone, the demo of "Catch My Fall" displays a nice clean guitar sound from Stevens. Again on "Flesh For Fantasy", Stevens shows his deft playing doesn't depend on distortion. Rather he makes extensive use of delay, chorus and flanger effects here. And finally, the demo version of "Blue Highway" is in some ways better than the studio version. Here the soulful squeal of Steven's guitar blends with the synths in a way that's evocative of blue skies and the setting sun."
Idol's finest hour
M. B. Link | USA | 07/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rebel Yell(1983). Billy Idol's second studio album. In terms of sheer image, people often dismiss Billy Idol as an 80's fashion freak show with his seemingly permanently stiff upper lip and a wild bleach blonde hairdo. But why should looks ever come first when it's the music that is really important? When combining punk-rock with new wave/pop music, no one, and I mean NO ONE ever did it as well as Idol. Teaming up with guitarist Steve Stevens, Idol very well put himself on the map through the successes of his first EP Don't Stop(1981) and his self-titled debut album(1982). But it is Rebel Yell which represents Idol's crowning achievement of consistency and superb songwriting. Why? Take a look: 1) Rebel Yell- ONE OF THE GREATEST 80'S ARENA ROCKERS EVER CREATED. Honestly, can anyone be an Idol fan and not acknowledge this song? Excellent combination of guitar and synths. Stevens's solo is one to be admired here. 10/10 2) Daytime Drama- A mid-paced tune with main emphasis on the keyboards. Not a bad song, but it does nothing to warrant giving any real attention to it. One of the album's two weakest tracks. 7/10 3) Eyes Without A Face- EXCELLENT BALLAD. Another famous track to appear off of the album. Slow and very engaging with nicely added female vocals in the chorus and a great guitar section after the second chorus. A definite winner. 10/10 4) Blue Highway- The pace picks back up with this optimistic fast rocking anthem. Certainly one of the more notable tracks on here, and a personal favorite of mine. 10/10 5) Flesh For Fantasy- A great slow-paced pop number powered by both the keyboards and guitars. Quite a popular track deep down among fans. 10/10 6) Catch My Fall- Mid-paced and melodic, this ballad became another famous Idol song. It is probably his most optimistic ballad ever made, and a great one at that. 10/10 7) Crank Call- This song is often ignored amongst the other tracks here, but it manages to be almost as great as them. The best part of this mid-paced rocker is the chorus itself. 9/10 8) (Do Not) Stand In The Shadows- VERY UNDERRATED like the previous track, although this one is just as equally phenomenal as the others. A fast-paced rock anthem similar to the previous album's closer, Dancing With Myself. 10/10 9) The Dead Next Door- After an almost perfectly flawless streak of masterpiece tracks, Rebel Yell closes the original album with this slow, haunting dud. It has a decent sub-chorus, but Idol and Stevens can certainly do much better. 7/10
And now the bonus tracks: 10) Rebel Yell (SESSION TAKE)- Like the original, but slightly slower and very unpolished. What makes it interesting is that there is a different guitar solo and many of the lyrics sung are different. 8/10 11) Motorbikin' (B-SIDE)- This track that didn't make the album cut is actually a decent fast rocker, though not very outstanding. Worth a listen. 8/10 12) Catch My Fall (DEMO)- Very much like the original, but after the second chorus a strange bluesy waltz section was added. 8/10 13) Flesh For Fantasy (SESSION TAKE)- Of all the demos here, FFF is easily the best in terms of sound quality. However, the chorus in this version is sped up and completely different than the original one. 8/10 14) Blue Highway (DEMO)- The drumming takes a hit in quality, but the guitar playing is really beefed up here, making this song heavier than the original. 8/10 Overall, RY is by far Idol's best and most successful album, and one of the greatest albums of the 80's. Its low spots are more than made up for by its high ones, so RY gets 5 stars hands down. If you're just a casual fan getting into Idol, start with this or the debut album, and then check out the others. While Idol's future albums Whiplash Smile(1986) and Charmed Life(1990) fared alright later on, none of them ever matched RY in terms of exceptional songwriting and musicianship. Even if you're only slightly interested, pick this album up. You certainly won't be disappointed."
In the midnight hour, she cried more more more!
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 02/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With Rebel Yell, Billy Idol released what's arguably the best of his so far five solo albums. Keith Forsey was still at the producer's helm, and Steve Stevens was doing his fiery guitar theatrics, but here, the songwriting, ferocity and singleworthiness of songs, and tight arrangements were among their best. The album itself reached #6 on the album charts.
The anthemic title track is another example of an Idol classic failing chart-wise, like "White Wedding." It stalled at #46 on the charts, though it did respectfully well on the album rock charts, peaking at #9. But this turned out to be another frantic mixture of new wave synths, punk rhythms, hard rock, and techno beats. "In the midnight, she cried more, more, more!" roars Idol in the chorus, creating another memorable lyric. This song was also reinforced by the energetic concert performance clip on MTV, where viewers got to see Stevens perform some squealing and laser-beam sounding space age theatrics with his guitar. The session take has some "tonight" instead of "last night" in "last night a little dancer came knocking at my door," as well as some rough instrumentation and different lyrics.
Until reaching #1 with "Mony Mony," "Eyes Without A Face" became Idol's highest charting song, reaching #4 on the pop charts and #5 on the album rock charts. The slow airy synths and pulsing bass, claps in this ballad, backup vocals by Idol's girlfriend, Perri Lister, who also did the makeup on Idol's first album, and Stevens grinding guitar during the sudden ferocious rock section midsong provided yet another hit for Idol. The album closer "The Dead Next Door," has a quieter ambient synth sound that kind of belongs with "Eyes"
"Blue Highway," also present here in a demo version, is a rocker perfect for some high speed driving down a highway. "(Do Not) Stand In The Shadows" is another uptempo rocker along the same lines. And the pulsing night-time feel of "Daytime Drama," with some keyboard theatrics before the first chorus, isn't a bad non-single bridging "Rebel Yell" with "Eyes."
There's a slight ominous and nocturnal club aura with the pulsing bass backbeat in "Flesh For Fantasy," the third single, which reached #29 on the pop charts and #8 on the album rock charts. The carnal hunger is felt during the chorus-"you see and feel my sex attack"-when things rise in pitch, evidenced by Idol's lusty vocals and Stevens' guitars. The session take has a slightly slower tempo in the verses, but with a quicker-paced and different sounding chorus.
The next single was the #50 pop/#24 album rock-charting "Catch My Fall," a pulsing dance tune with a sax nonetheless. Yet there are some signs of the fiercely individualism wanting some sort of support after a lifetime of experience: "I've traveled and unwound my own truth yeah/I've laid my head on the rock of youth yeah/I've trusted and then broken my own word/Just to keep me free in this mad, mad word." The demo version is more stripped down and restrained, but not bad.
A cover of Chris Spedding's "Motorbikin'" is the only new track on this expanded edition bar the demo versions and session takes. Used as a warmup track during the album sessions, this is a real showcase for Stevens' guitar and something Gen X might have done.
After releasing this classic, Billy Idol would turn that sneer of his into a whiplash smile."
Great Music but ...
Daniel J. Hamlow | 08/20/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I couldn't wait to replace my worn-out cassette copy with the expanded version of Rebel Yell, but the "Eyes Without a Face" (track #3) does have some mastering problems at 1:45 and 3:00."