When Sanctuary Records signed Billy Idol, the only request they had was for him to produce a “great Billy Idol album.” The 49 year old Brit passed the test with flying colors. Collaborating again with producer Keith Forsey and guitarist wizard Steve Stevens, Devil’s Playground is every bit as strong as his massive hit records from the ‘80’s. While lead off single “Scream” sounds like a modern interpretation of Idol’s hit “Rebel Yell,” the slightly Alice Cooper sounding “World Comin’ Down” has an opening guitar riff that is every bit as instantly recognizable as the main riff from “Dancin’ With Myself.”
Idol hasn’t forgotten that his roots lay in the late 70’s English punk scene. Album opener “Super Overdrive” is a kick in your teeth blistering punk track that proves Idol still has his trademark snarl. It’s not all punk though. In fact, the majority of the album is just a very solid hard rock and roll record. You’ll be hard pressed to find a current rock song as catchy as “Sherri,” while “Cherie” sounds like a Hunky Dory era David Bowie track. Despite it’s odd inclusion in the middle of an album released in March, “Yellin’ at the Xmas Tree” is destined to be a rock radio holiday staple for years to come.
It’s hard for any established act to make an album that stands up strong to the legacy of their back catalogue. Devil’s Playground is about as close as they come. The album rocks in the filthy Billy Idol tradition without sounding incredibly dated. It’s good to see that Idol has gotten the demons off his back and has returned to give his audience “more, more, more.”