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Billy Idol

Devil's Playground (Sanctuary)

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There are relatives of "Dancing With Myself," "Flesh for Fantasy," and "Rebel Yell" here, and Billy Idol hasn't lost any of his drive or snarl. Is the material a progression from his earlier work? Maybe not, though the last three songs suggest a more mature Idol. Not only do the super-slick, catchy "Cherie" and the sultry "Summer Running" prove he's a better singer now; they also affirm his prowess at assimilation, even of folk inflections.

One of hard rock's top bad boys, Idol still knows how to ratchet up the drama. "Evil Eye," a Doors-styled inquiry into myth, ritual, and deviance, seems ready-made for video treatment. You might recall how well Idol songs translated to the small screen; he's synonymous with early MTV. An Aztec-styled clip is just the ticket for "Evil Eye," with Idol, spiky and moussed, driving his motorcycle onto the sacrificial platform.

Helping the comeback is Steve Stevens, the super-flashy guitarist who powered Idol's biggest hits. Also on board: Keith Forsey, the disco-cured producer who helped Idol craft his glistening, hard-rock microfantasias. Devil's Playground isn't a trailblazer, but it's more than an affirmation.

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