He's been away for so long, he's let you go for so long. But after a 12-year hiatus, Billy Idol figures it's a nice day to start again. "Super Overdrive," from his comeback album Devil's Playground, summons all the essential elements from his '80s heyday, from its sexual commands ("Ride my rocket") to its cocky passages ("With an Idol mind . . . does he still have the magic/ Yes, he does") to its searing Steve Stevens riff. That final ingredient might be the most vital to Idol's revival, because he emptied his sneers-and-innuendo arsenal on his Stevens-free albums to no avail.
Idol couldn't quite stock Devil's Playground with worthy offerings, but he's likely to jettison the album's filler ("Screamin' at the Xmas Tree") in favor of a hits-heavy setlist. If his fans are lucky, Idol will refrain from turning his most popular tunes into mirthless dance remixes, as he did on an ill-advised 1987 collection. A Pistols-packing punk who infuriated his early following by pursuing pop, Idol felt the electronica wind gathering in force in 1993 and decided that he too should blow. Now, he's sticking with his strengths rather than chasing trends, which suggests that the world will, thankfully, be spared a Billy Idol rap record.