Mar 252024
billy idol rose royce

Billy Idol’s iconic Rebel Yell album is 40 years old. The old punk is taking the chance to reissue a deluxe edition. As well as his huge hits of the title track and “Eyes Without a Face,” and the usual offcuts and remixes, he has uncovered an old cover of the Rose Royce classic “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”

This is no demo track. It’s a full-blown production. Royce’s version was all minor-key introversion, accepting that she probably played some role in her heartache, but mainly just sad. Idol transforms it into a major key ’80s power ballad, but allows some vulnerability among the bluster and Steve Stevens’ guitar solo. It shows a different side to the pantomime punk rocker. It is weird how you can hear a sneer and lip curl (if you know it is there) in his music, even when showing his other side.

In some ways, this seems to have been a missed opportunity for Idol. His stated reason for not releasing the song was that he heard that Madonna was working on a version, which indeed she was. Was there so much of an overlap between their fans that they could not accommodate both interpretations? In the UK we have a fondness for a version of the song by Jimmy Nail, who was playing a hard cop in a TV series when the song came out, and was one of the first men to release a cover. It allowed the actor to show a different side of himself. Idol has waited 40 years to admit his softer side, now much in evidence when he gushes over playing with his grandchildren and working with younger acts like Miley Cyrus. He may have missed an opportunity to show that to his fans earlier.

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