Picks and Pans Review: Billy Idol: Vital Idol

updated 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

This is a straightforward, unadorned compilation of nine Idol song videos. Not that wild Bill needs additional window dressing. His whole act is prepackaged for maximum visual impact. The earlier Idol clips seem straight out of the devil's video workshop, particularly the David Mallet-directed White Wedding, a grisly mix of vampire and Nazi imagery, and Eyes Without a Face, with its Satanic coven. But even depraved, decadent posturing seems tame after a while. Idol's video persona never varies: In his stiff, bleached-white hair he stands decked out in leather, steel spikes and crucifixes, snarling and shadowboxing. Rebel Yell, a performance video, comes as a relief, in part because it provides a chance to see Idol's amazing guitarist Steve Stevens tear it up. Much of these videos' visual style has become shopworn on MTV by now, but in most cases Idol was there first. So if there's nothing new on Vital Idol, it does contain high-voltage music, unsettling mise-en-scène and rock video's most successful object of idol worship. (Vestron, $19.98; 41 min.)

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