Flesh for Fantasy
I used to think Billy Idol was a flash in the pan, and had no more talent than the ability to twist his lips into a sneer, and had to admit even then, it was a better sneer than Elvis.
Now he’s been around some time, and I perceive his genius. His on-stage persona is well thought out theatrically. This particular song was inspired by an old movie Flesh and Fantasy, with Charles Boyer.
As raw as this song seems there are references and undercurrents here too. He hopes you feel his sex attack. Why attack? Because some women and men are ‘irresistible’? A female in film from the late 20’s to 30’s like Theda Barra was a ‘Vamp”. Valentino was supposed to demonstrate ‘sexual menace’. Even I love Lucy threatened Tennessee Ernie Ford, “I’m a gonna vamp you” and that was in the fifties. There seems to be a lot of references to violence. How exactly does that work, and why? And what does that say about us and our society?
And you can see, at the start, where he does a sort of strip job with his jacket, and what I call “the rope-pulling routine” that he’s smiling. He’s not serious, and even Billy Idol isn’t so much a God that he can’t laugh at his own posing. It’s a stage folks, a stage, get me? Now he’s got your attention, let’s see what he does with it.
Steve Steven’s guitar work is superb and much of the song’s strength is derived from his skill. The song itself varies between driving rhythm sections and melodic interludes that are so pretty they almost defy description. Rather like the sex act itself, an ephemeral experience that alternates between frenzied activity and periods of relaxation and reflection. Sex is like a sentence of strength and passion divided by commas and spaces. Rather than interrupting the mood, the punctuation controls the pace and makes the mood even more sustainable and enduring.
The drummer never misses a beat, or a drumstick, even though he bounces it up to the ceiling. The words are evocative as all get-out, and suggestive. Not mildly suggestive mind you, but suggestive in the same way a French bugle call suggests a Napoleonic battle.
There’s an entire U-tube piece where he talks about the piece and what led to it being written. After seeing it, and watching the live set, I’ve decided never to ignore Billy again or dismiss him as a simple “flash in the pan” guy with a sneer like Elvis.
He’s a Grand Canyon deeper than that.
http://youtu.be/OegaW3e01EE Billy Idol Flesh for Fantasy