As I stated MTV was and should be all about the music, that was the entire point! It was a new media platform in the evolution of entertainment to provide artists with a means of promotion, creative freedom and advertisement, which you could enjoy all day from the comfort of your home WAY before the internet! Music videos were new, fresh and exciting, and it allowed bands to reach vast new audiences outside of radio.
The initial wave of these artists would ultimately go down in history, as being pioneers; ground-breaking media personas, as being among the first, they were at the forefront of a new evolution in mainstream media attention, and one of those artists, was BILLY IDOL. Born in London as William Broad, Billy first found fame as part of underground punk outfit GENERATION-X before his solo career exploded in the early 80’s. Tracks such as “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell” had cemented him as a bonafide punk rock poster boy; leather clad with his blonde hair, whiplash smile and cheeky charm; he was made for MTV. In 2021, we find Billy Idol revitalised, releasing his first original music since 2014; via an EP by the name of “The Roadside”. Are we stopping at the services for a quick Maccies en route or have we completely broken down with five flat tires and no phone service? Let’s find out...
We’re going to have to start off by talking about “Bitter Taste”; the EP’s lead single and the focus point of Idol’s latest creative flurry. The track itself, conceptually, is centred around a motorcycle accident Idol was involved in back in 1990, which nearly cost him his life. It’s a heavily reflective track, that he likens to this past year or so of the pandemic. Lifestyles change, habits change, your entire way of life and way of thinking changes in face of uncertainty and, such incidents can mature you mentally and emotionally. The track musically is a sombre, acoustic heavy, semi-country inspired ballad, and you can not only hear, but feel the reflection and sentiment in Idol’s voice; in his lyrics and the overall delivery of the track as a whole. The subtle piano keys that litter the track sporadically add a quaint delicacy to the already soft recording, and they complement the gentle percussion and mellow acoustics, before we get a more frustrated flurry of more aggressive vocals towards the tracks climax. Deep in its sense of soul searching, it is a thing of beauty.
But what else makes up the rest of the 4-track EP? It actually opens up with “Rita Hayworth” who, for those of you who don’t know, is an American actress who was prominent in the late 1930’s through the 1940’s, where she found herself as a popular pin-up girl for American GI’s. Topically the track mirrors Hayworth’s own personal struggles with Columbia Pictures with the soulless corporate political money trap Hollywood is today. Almost a piece of advice put to music, he sings “You’re swimmin’ with Jaws and this dream town will swallow you whole; you’re gonna’ need a bigger boat”. A sadly all too common remark towards the otherwise glamourized Hollywood lifestyle of fame and fortune. It eats people up and breaks people down. Set to a no-nonsense rocking piece of instrumentation with a solid groove and soaring gang vocal whoa’s, it’s a fun, up-beat bit of rock ‘n’ roll.
The second half of the EP is made up of “U Don’t Have To Kiss Me Like That”, which harks back to a jovial sense of late seventies / early 80’s glam rock that could quite easily appeal to fans of say T-REX and MARC BOLAN for example. It’s more of that era in aesthetic and highlights more of the early influences Idol would have been around growing up, before we finish up on “Baby Put Your Clothes Back On” which on paper, sounds like an absolute mood killer. It turns out that, that’s actually accurate. A slow jam of twangy guitars and mild percussion not unlike something CHRIS ISAAK would produce, it’s another reflective track about self-worth and emotional maturity that could easily thematically tie-in to the main narrative of “Bitter Taste”. It’s as if he harks back to when he realised there was more to life than fun times, girls and living fast and it’s quite humbling.
With Idol’s last record, “Kings And Queens Of The Underground” being a trip down memory lane itself, here we see him continue to take inspiration from the past and using his memories and stories as a form of catharsis through his creative process. From a selfish point of view, we could all easily say we’d prefer a new full-length Billy Idol album, as it’s been so long, but the quality and honesty presented here more than makes up for it. As far as this EP goes, we are so glad you weren’t left by that roadside, as THAT, would have left a bitter taste. 
Saturday June 11th - Glasgow, SSE Hydro
Monday June 13th - Manchester, AO Arena
Wednesday June 15th - Birmingham, Resorts World Arena
Saturday June 18th - London, SSE Arena Wembley
Sunday June 19th - Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
Tuesday June 21st - Leeds, First Direct Arena
We hope to see you all at the roadside next Summer...you'll find me at Cardiff.