Extreme - Pornograffitti ©1991 A&M
1. Decadence Dance
2. Li'l Jack Horny
3. When I'm President
4. Get The Funk Out
5. More Than Words
6. Money (in God We Trust)
7. It ('s A Monster)
8. Pornograffitti
9. When I First Kissed You
10. Suzi (wants Her All Day What?)
11. He-man Woman Hater
12. Song For Love
13. Hole Hearted

You can file this one under guilty pleasures as well.

When Extreme first came out in the late 80s, they seemed like they'd be just another hairy, excessively pouty butt rock band with little more than another imitation of a bad formula. Their self-titled debut did little to shed that perception as that release was very tepid and lacking a real identity. Chances are I never would have bothered picking up their sophomore release, Pornograffitti, had I not heard the track "Get the Funk Out" on the radio. As it turns out, I would have missed out on a great guitar rock album, one of the better ones ever released.

For whatever reason, between the debut and Pornograffitti, Extreme figured out who they were as songwriters and the difference is amazing. Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt really came into his own on the album. While he's not necessarily a guitar hero, his style is phenomenal throughout and does a lot to drive the songs home. Singer Gary Cherone does a great job of selling the songs. But the most outstanding thing is the wealth of great songs throughout. The aforementioned "Get the Funk Out" is stupidly clever, but quite catchy. Other infectious tracks include "It's a Monster", the Sinatra tinged "When I First Kissed You", the title track and the hit "Hole Hearted". Sure, that utterly vapid and unbearably sappy "More Than Words" is on the album, but they invented a skip button for a reason. The band does go through a lot of rock cliches but the music comes off as arena sized fun. That's pretty much what rock is supposed to be at the end of the day.

Between this and the follow-up III Sides to Every Story, Extreme had a pair of highly necessary rock albums that proved that not all hair music was bad.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2000

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III Sides To Every Story

Extreme - III Sides To Every Story ©1992 A&M
1. Warheads
2. Rest In Peace
3. Politicalamity
4. Color Me Blind
5. Cupid's Dead
6. Peacemaker Die
7. Seven Sundays
8. Tragic Comic
9. Our Father
10. Stop The World
11. God Isn't Dead?
12. Everything Under The Sun

After coming off the surprise success of Pornograffitti and its monsterously huge single "More Than Words" (which is so not the proper represenation of this band), Extreme put out the most ambitious record of their entire career, which of course meant they were spiralling back into rock obscurity at a maddening pace. Divided into three sections, "Yours, Mine & the Truth", Extreme offered three varying approaches to the record, all of which culminated in a fantastic album climax. You can accuse of them of being too ambitious or pompous on this album, but frankly they pull it off exceptionally well, making this arguably their best record.

The first six songs fall under "Yours" and are more or less straight forward guitar hero driven rock music and makes up the least interesting section of the album. "Rest in Peace" is probably the most notable and catchiest song of the section, though I recall it failed to light up the charts as a single. "Color Me Blind" is a driving number that tries to take on racial issues in a fairly lightweight manner. "Cupid's Dead" attempts a funky rhythm, but doesn't particularly pull it off. The album begins to improve with the "Mine" section as the band starts to delve into a more orchestrated and emotionally wrenching style. Lyrically, the songs take a more personal, romantic bent, as the sugary sentiments of "Seven Sundays" and "Tragic Comic" demonstrate. "Our Father" truly begins the best section of the album, with some very subtle guitar echoings by Nuno Bettencourt and a strong melody from Gary Cherone. By this point the mood of the songs have foresaken rock n roll aloofness from reality and taken on a very somber tone. "God Isn't Dead" offers orchestration and a building climax in the song that is actually quite chilling. This all leads into the buildup into the final, incredible "and The Truth" section of the album.

At this point Extreme completely dives into the orchestration, ambitious song arrangements and overblown sound to full effect. And it works. The three segments of this final section work in accordance with one another for a twenty minute jaunt into a sound that veers into a progressive rock style without being too showy for its own good. The melodies, song climaxes and builds and sense of completeness make this Extreme's most impressive song ever. It is quite chilling and impressive.

Even with the somewhat slow start, III Sides to Every Story is a remarkable rock record that gives the listener a wide range of approaches, some excellent musicianship on Nuno Bettencourt's part and a bunch of memorable songs. Certainly one of the finest albums to come out of the guitar hero category of the era.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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The Best Of Extreme: An Accidental Collocation Of Atoms

Extreme - The Best Of Extreme: An Accidental Collocation Of Atoms ©1997 A&M
1. Decadence Dance
2. Rest In Peace
3. Kid Ego
4. Get The Funk Out
5. Tragic Comic
6. Hip Today
7. Stop The World
8. More Than Words
9. Cupid's Dead - Horn Mix
10. Leave Me Alone
11. Play With Me
12. Hole Hearted
13. Am I Ever Gonna Change

Extreme was a commercial hard rock band that got their due. Unfortunately it was not the due they deserved. As exposed in a Saturday Night Live parody called "Songs that ruined everything", Extreme will forever be remembered for a sappy ballad called "More Than Words", which forever earned them a spot in the hearts of lovelorn midwestern housewives who tend to wear unflattering stretchpants. Considering that song did not represent the band's tendency for a blend between Van Halen guitar hero tactics, the theatrical aspects of Queen and overall ambitious rock music, this collection of the band's best known songs might have been better served deliberately ignoring that tune. Regardless, Best of Extreme is indeed just that: a collection of their radio hits and singles that represent the casual fan's view of their best material.

Scanning over the song titles, it's obvious the process of selecting tracks from their four studio albums was derived from which songs were released as singles and perhaps some concert favorites, with most of the emphasis being placed on their breakout album, Pornograffitti, and its excellent, often overlooked followup, III Sides to Every Story. There are a couple inclusions from the debut and their last studio release, Waiting for the Punchline (which, once the joke was told, was that their days as a high selling act were long over). On the whole, this collection adds little to the more rabid Extreme fan's knowledge of the band, but might serve to satiate the appetite of the more casual fan who is more likely to want just the better known tracks rather than invest in all four studio albums. And besides, the album is a good time regardless of the fact that the studio albums are generally superior.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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