40 years ago today, November 10th, back in 1983, Billy Idol released his sophomore album Rebel Yell via Chrysalis Records. Rebel Yell was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City with producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Stevens.
It was during the recording of VH1 Storytellers that Idol gave explanation to how he came up with the title for the album. He explained that he was at a party with the Rolling Stones where everyone was drinking Rebel Yell bourbon whiskey. He thought it would be a great idea for a title to an album. Keith Richards was an avid drinker of Rebel Yell, and Idol liked the name so much that he asked the Stones if they had any objections to using it for a future song title. The brand of bourbon whiskey was introduced in 1936 in Kentucky. They changed its name to Rebel in 2020.
Idol Screams the Rebel Yell
The Rebel Yell album was a hit for Idol. It peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 charts. It has sold over two million copies in the United States alone since its release.
Musically, the album features a mix of new wave, up-tempo rock songs mixed with a bit of pop-rock. The title track is a classic hard rock anthem, while the albums other bit hit, “Eyes Without a Face,” is more of a moody ballad. Other notable tracks include “Flesh for Fantasy,” “Catch My Fall,” and “Crank Call.” In 1999, Idol released an expanded bonus edition of the album with five extra demos and outtakes from the original recording sessions.
The album’s cover and sleeve images were shot by British photographer Brian Griffin. Griffin has worked with many notable artists including Depeche Mode, R.E.M., Iggy Pop, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and Peter Gabriel. In 1989, the British Daily Newspaper, The Guardian, named Griffin the “Photographer of the Decade” for his works.
Rebel Yell continued Billy Idol’s ascent into the rock & roll stratosphere, further cementing him as one of the biggest rock stars of the 1980’s.
- “Rebel Yell”
- “Daytime Drama”
- “Eyes Without a Face”
- “Blue Highway”
- “Flesh For Fantasy”
- “Catch My Fall”
- “Crank Call”
- “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”
- “The Dead Next Door”
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