Monday, September 9, 2019

"To Be a Lover" by Billy Idol

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2886
Date:  10/04/1986
Debut:  69
Peak:  6
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Idol's second studio LP, Rebel Yell, would be a double-platinum seller thanks to four Top 50 singles including the #4 "Eyes Without a Face." For his next effort, Idol would retain producer Keith Forsey and guitarist/co-writer Steve Stevens and together they completed Whiplash Smile. This first single was issued out and it easily became Idol's fifth Top 10 at Rock. It was also his highest peaking on that chart to-date getting to #2. Pop climbed on board as well and the tune would become Idol's second Top 10. The album would match the peak of Rebel Yell getting to #6, but it sales were a bit less and it could only get a single platinum certification.

ReduxReview:  In general, I wasn't a big fan of Idol's tough guy, snarling rock, but sometimes he would put out a terrific tune and this was one of them. This chuggin' rock-n-soul track with its peaks and valleys was a perfect vehicle for Idol. I especially love the background vocals, which featured the wonderful Jocelyn Brown. The track was an inspired cover tune that had mass appeal. For me, this ranks right alongside "Eyes Without a Face" as being Idol's best tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally co-written and performed by soul artist William Bell. His 1968 version, titled "I Forgot to Be a Lover," was issued out as a single and it would get to #10 at R&B and #45 Pop. Bell's original version was nothing like the Idol's harder rockabilly take. It was actually a soul ballad. However, it seems that Idol was not familiar with Bell's original when he decided to cover the tune. He knew it from a remake done by reggae artist George Faith. Faith's version, titled "To Be a Lover (Have Mercy)," was featured on his 1977 LP To Be a Lover and it was issued out as a single. While the song and album proved to be popular with reggae fans, neither charted in the US. Many artists would cover the song including Melissa Etheridge,, who included the tune on her 2016 album MEmphis Rock and Soul. Her take was based on Bell's original ballad version.


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