Billy Idol

Eyes Without a Face

Song Review by

Rebel Yell overflowed with furious rockers like its title track and "Flesh For Fantasy," which made it fairly ironic that its biggest hit came from a song that tempered rock firepower with a heavy dose of new wave-styled moodiness. The first-person narrative of "Eyes Without A Face" tells its tale of a disintegrating love affair through a combination of jagged images ("I’m on a bus, on a psychedelic trip/Reading murder books, trying to stay hip") and outbursts of pained emotion ("I’m all out of hope/One more bad break could bring a fall"). Everything is tied together by the bitter chorus as the narrator deals his love affair the final blow: "Got no human grace/You’re eyes without a face." The music plays against the dark tone of the lyrics with a ballad-styled melody comprised of yearning verses that slowly build emotion and a quietly wrenching chorus that relieves the emotional tension in a cathartic manner. It also works in an unexpected bridge that underlines a stream-of-consciousness monologue with a bit of breathless, uptempo rock and roll swagger. These diverse elements make "Eyes Without A Face" a tough song to master but Billy Idol nails it on Rebel Yell thanks to a stylish arrangement that plays up the electronic edge to his sound: layered synthesizers combine hypnotic drones and gorgeous keyboard runs that make a perfect backdrop for Idol’s vocal, which ranges from a ghostly croon to a feral growl. Steve Stevens adds a few of his trademark slashing guitar riffs to the song’s mid-section but this recording otherwise maintains a low-key, mostly synth-oriented style that gives Idol’s anti-romantic musings a hypnotic pull. Pop listeners connected with its blend of slickness and dark drama and "Eyes Without A Face" became a top-five hit as a result. It remains one of Billy Idol’s finest efforts and still sounds fresh when it makes its periodic appearances on classic rock radio.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rebel Yell 1983 Chrysalis Records / Capitol 4:58
Idol Songs: 11 of the Best 1988 EMI Music Distribution 4:09
No Image 1990 Capitol
Radio City Love Songs 1992
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:09
Pop & Wave, Vol. 4 1993
Various Artists
4:56
Best of 1980-1990, Vol. 11 1995
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:10
No Image 1996 Capitol 4:58
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Adventures In Music
Rock & Roll Relix: 1980-1989 1998
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 4:57
Rock & Roll Relix: 1984-1985 1998
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 4:57
Sedated in the Eighties, Vol. 5 1998
Various Artists
Capitol 4:57
Rock On 1984: Sunglasses at Night 1998
Various Artists
Madacy 4:59
Awesome '80s, Vol. 5 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:00
Double Shot: New Wave 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 4:57
Greatest Hits of the 80's [1999 Disky] 1999
Various Artists
Disky 4:11
Eyes Have It 1999
Various Artists
GNP / Crescendo 4:10
British Invasion [Delta/2 Disc] 1999
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 5:00
Kuschelrock, Vol. 3 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:08
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Excelsior Recordings
Hits at Planet Earth 2000
Various Artists
Planet Earth Recordings 4:11
Hot Rod Series: Power Ballads 2000
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 4:58
Monster Ballads, Vol. 2 2001
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 4:11
Forever Gold: British Invasion 2001
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 5:00
Greatest Hits 2001 Capitol / EMI Records 4:57
Inside the Music: New Wave 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Modern Rock: Love Songs 2001
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:00
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 4:11
A Year in Your Life: 1984, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 4:58
More Maximum '80s [Boxset] 2001
Various Artists
Disky 4:59
Twogether Love 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:08
Twogether Pop 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:09
The Essential [2003] 2003 Chrysalis Records / EMI Music Distribution 0:00
Billy Idol/Rebel Yell 2003 Capitol / EMI 4:58
Lust: A Personal Collection by Louie Vega 2007 SUSU 4:53
The Ultimate Rock Ballads Collection [Time Life] 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:00
Rockland Radio: Welcome To Classic Rock Chapter 1 2007
Various Artists
Toptrax 4:53
Idolize Yourself: The Very Best of Billy Idol 2008 Capitol
Sight and Sound: Storytellers 2008 WEA International 5:34
101 Power Ballads [EMI] 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:09
No Image 2011 EMI / Soundcolours 4:58
Essential [2011] 2011 EMI Gold 4:57
Vital Idol: Revitalized 2018 Capitol 3:50
20 #1's: Power Ballads
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:57
Anni '80: The Hits, Vol. 1
Various Artists
EMI / Mixed Repertoire 4:57
No Image
Various Artists
Parlophone
Classic Power Ballads
Various Artists
Universal
No Image
Various Artists
EMI 4:58
Original Hits: 80s Pop
Various Artists
EMI 4:09