Crap Album Cage Match: Billy Idol's "Cyberpunk" vs Scorpions "Eye II Eye"!


Sometimes albums are so bad that they defy description, and sometimes they're so bad that you can't help but want to play them for your friends just to see the looks of abject horror on their faces.  These are two of those albums.



Billy Idol - Cyberpunk

Nothing says "Mr. Idol, your cocaine-fueled electro-punk album is not worth the plastic its printed on" more than the sight of yet another dog-eared copy of this turd in the "Shit We Can't Give Away" bins of every used CD store from here to Timuktu.  Ah well, somebody's got to keep those orphaned copies of Sarah Maclachlan' "Wintersong" and Mick Jagger's "Goddess In The Doorway" (which Keith Richards lovingly rechristened Dogshit In The Doorway) company.

For those of us who'd loved Rebel Yell, it seemed Idol's every move from that point on was to completely neuter himself, musically speaking.  First, there was the decision to record Whiplash Smile to a click track with the intent of Thommy Price adding his thunderous drums before final mixing began and then just deciding, eh, who needs a live drummer when we have these really cheesy click tracks.?  Then there was the "metal phase" of Charmed Life, with more drum machines and a limp noodle cover of the Doors' "L.A. Woman".

Billy no doubt saw the steep decline in sales and knew that his next move had to be one that put the trolley back on the tracks, so to speak.

Devoid of any musical ideas, Billy immersed himself in the cyberpunk counterculture and saw an opportunity to update his still for a new generation.  The end result, while thematically ambitious, is an absolute musical train wreck from the first "song" to the last.  The most offensive of all being Idol's reworking of Lou Reed's "Heroin".  Speaking of awful covers, there has never been an album more accurately judged by its cover than this one.  Let's face it, the Commodore Amiga-grade graphics do not instill the listener with confidence that what lies within will be any less dated than a VHS tape of old Max Headroom episodes.



Scorpions - Eye II Eye

Whichever member of the mighty German hard rock juggernaut came up with the bright idea to completely deviate from the musical style that made them famous to make an electronica album should have been summarily shown the nearest door.  Instead, the rest of the band - obviously aware that their last appearance in the US Top 40 was almost ten years prior (1990's Crazy World)  agreed that diving head first into the electronica kiddie pool with Peter "We Built This City" Wolf (not the J. Geils singer) would be the best way to update their sound for a new generation and, at the same time, ensure that they're never taken seriously again.



It's one thing when you have only a passing interest in a band and hear such an absolutely desperate and misguided attempt to remain relevant, but one can only imagine how the legions of diehard Scorps fans must have felt.  After all, the same guys who had rocked them like a hurricane were now purring a cooing like Julie Newmar.

Every so often, I find myself revisiting the album just to make sure I remember it right.  Just like the mind has the occasional ability to make a song better than it actually is, it also has an uncanny flair for exaggerating how awful something might have been.  About midway through the album's first song, "Mysterious", though, I always realize that there are no words to describe the absolute musical betrayal that this band committed upon their own fan base.

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