Rebel Yell: Billy Idol (1983)

Rebel Yell
Studio album: Billy Idol
Released: November 10, 1983
Recorded: 1983
Studio: Electric Lady Studios
New York City, New York
Genre: Hard rock, new wave

Rebel Yell, the second studio album by Billy Idol, was influenced by new wave music. Four singles were released from it: "Rebel Yell," "Eyes Without a Face," "Flesh for Fantasy," and "Catch My Fall."

The LP peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 in the United States and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of two million copies. 

Rebel Yell (1983)


The title track was Idol's idea after drinking Rebel Yell whiskey at a party with the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ron Wood took swigs straight from the bottle. A rebel yell was also a Confederate battle cry during the civil war. The song is about a passionate one-night stand with a woman who wants "more, more, more." 

We had lots of beer and wine on the busses, 
which nowadays you could not do. 
Everyone was well soused.
Jeff Stein directed the video. His previous work included The Who documentary The Kids Are Alright. It was shot at the Capitol Theater in New Jersey. Idol's longtime girlfriend, Perri Lister, is in the front row. The audience is made up of kids bussed in from New York City. 

In the book I Want My MTV, Stein said: "We had lots of beer and wine on the busses, which you could not do nowadays. Everyone was well-soused. I put the hot-looking girls with the big t*ts up front."  Sounds of the crowd cheering and singing along were added later. The clip was a huge hit on MTV.

Rebel "L" (1986)

In 1986 the children's show, Sesame Street, parodied the song "Rebel L," sung by a Muppet, "Billy Idle." Strangely enough, Billy Idol, whose birth name was William Broad, originally coined his moniker after a note his teacher sent to his mom, saying, "William is an idle student." He wanted to use "Billy Idle" but decided on an alternate spelling so it wouldn't conflict with the Monty Python cast member Eric Idle.

Eyes Without A Face (1983)


Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) is a classic 1960  melodramatic film by French director Georges Franju. A gifted plastic surgeon is involved in a near-fatal auto accident that disfigures the once-beautiful face of his beloved daughter. He abducts young women with his assistant to surgically remove their facial features and graft them onto his daughter.

Billy Idol
Billy Idol

Idol's song uses similar imagery. He tackles the concept of modern romance and shows the cold callousness of the contemporary world. The daughter has become eyes without a face and wears a mask with only her eyes visible. The doctor is a face without eyes, blinded to the hideous nature of what he's done to himself, his family, and his victims. The woman in the relationship in the Billy Idol song is "Eyes Without a Face," while the narrator has become the "face without the eyes." The female vocals are singing "Les Yeux sans visage," French for "eyes without a face." 


The video was directed by David Mallet, who did Idol's "White Wedding." It was nominated for MTV Video Music Awards for "Best Editing" and "Best Cinematography." During the shoot, Idol's contact lenses dried out. When he fell asleep on a flight to his next gig in Arizona, they fused to his eyes. He had to get his corneas scraped at a hospital and wear bandages on his eyes for three days.


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