Friday, June 25, 2010

Billy Idol: Cyberpunk (1993)

(As published in the Illinois Entertainer ... )

Billy Idol

No line in rock-and-roll cuts both ways as incisively as Patti Smith's "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine," and Billy Idol's grafting it into his techno version of Lou Reed's "Heroin" borders on genius. But this album's smarts end there, and, with the exception of the rocking "Shock to the System," so do its high points, making Cyberpunk the least vital Idol ever.

Under the influence of Timothy Leary, Idol has wrought a tediously dense, high-tech concept album dedicated to the thesis that cyberpunk information access and virtual reality will help the human race wriggle out from under religion and government and evolve to the next level. But why anyone should seek insights on religion, government, or evolution from Idol (or Leary) remains a mystery.

Come to think of it, Idol probably doesn't know that much about heroin either. And before it's over, even "Shock to the System," which highlights his enthusiasm over the L.A. riots of '92, ends up rocking the cradle of hate.

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