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Billy Idol 

Devil's Playground (Sanctuary)

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.

More by Carlo Wolff

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