BILLY IDOL – “CYBERPUNK” (1993)
In 1990, Billy Idol was riding high off almost a decade of constant success, thanks to MTV and radio’s constant pumping of “White Wedding”, “Dancing With Myself”, “Mony Mony”, “Rebel Yell”, “Eyes Without A Face” and “Cradle of Love”. In 1993, Idol squandered every drop of goodwill he ever squeezed out of the public with his ambitious, yet completely wrongheaded concept album “Cyberpunk”, a dreary half-thought-out affair that at half its length would’ve been a momentary misstep, but at 80 minutes in length, proved that Idol was capable of self-indulgent hackery the likes of which his teenage fans could never possibly cope with.
Think of how cheesy dystopian sci-fi films like “Strange Days”, “Prayer of the Rollerboys” or even the very recent box office disaster “Southland Tales” take moderately workable futuristic concepts and run them into the ground with threadbare thematic throughlines, bad jokes and even worse music. Now picture this same sentiment as an overblown album release competing in the marketplace against the tidal wave of grunge and all things “alternative”, and you have the career killer that is “Cyberpunk.”
Is it as impenetrable as the Godley & Creme triple-LP concept album “Consequences” (1977)? Not entirely. Is it good? Not hardly. Of interest is the leadoff track, the single “Shock To The System”, and the “Heroin” cover (which Allmusic has dubbed “one of the worst covers ever recorded”.)
It took Idol twelve years after the release of “Cyberpunk” to come out with another album, 2005′s “Devil’s Playground.” has anybody out there heard it? Is it as sing-alongy as any of the ’80s stuff?