Among the last wave of 80's/90's pop-metal "hair" bands, Boston-based Extreme stand out from the pack thanks to an eclectic musical sensibility owing as much to The Beatles as to Van Halen. Mostly classified as a Funk Metal band, Extreme nonetheless dabbled with several pop forms during their career, ranging from the pre-rock pop of Frank Sinatra to trendy mid-90's Post-Grunge, meshing it all into a series of loose Concept Albums. Through it all, they've maintained a strong technical reputation as musicians, particularly for the soloing of Portuguese-born guitar wizard Nuno Bettencourt.Then again, some may only know them for those two acoustic hits. And many of them only know them for their first acoustic hit.Lead singer Gary Cherone is also infamous for his disastrous stint as the third Van Halen singer.
Attempting to hit the big time after touring the Boston area, Extreme recorded ten of their fifty-song library for a mostly undistinguished debut album. The album's sound doesn't stand out from the rest of the Poison-esqueHair Metal of the time, and 1989 did not need more hair metal, but some of the later signatures - Bettencourt's precise lead guitar, well-placed three-part harmonies, and a consistent album-wide lyrical theme (centered loosely around childhood) - make themselves known. Classically-inspiredradio hitPlay With Me, a non-single from the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack added at the last minute, helped break Extreme out and point the way towards their later eclectic ways.
The breakthrough multiplatinum-selling album brought along the funky and mellow signature tendencies of the band. Described as "A Funked Up Fairytale", the album had a signifigant concept-album vibe surrounding it. Backed up with "Lil' Jack Horn Section" and truly groundbreaking guitar work, "Pornograffitti" was an dynamically diverse bunch of electrifying funk metal songs such as Get The Funk Out, Decadence Dance and He-Man Woman Hater sharing the spotlight with the acoustic mega-hits More Than Words and Hole Hearted. There's even a Sinatraesque piano ballad, a mind-boggingly precise guitar solo and tongue-in-cheekrapping thrown in for good measure.
A three-sided album (hence the title) where all three sides are stylistically distinct. Side one, "Yours", focuses on the stadium rock the band is most associated with and features lyrics based on political issues such as the role of government, war, racism, and the media. The second side, "Mine", is more personal lyrically and follows up on the pop style of Hole Hearted and More Than Words. Starting from the light-hearted minor hit Tragic Comic, the songs quickly grow darker, with the ballad Our Father addressing a runaway father (who may or may not be God) and expressing philosophical doubt. This sets the stage for the Progressive Rock-oriented final side, "The Truth", a three-part suite heavy on biblical references which attempts to answer what the point of it all is.
A seemingly-final effort mostly In The Style OfSoundgarden, "Waiting" hews only very loosely to its narrative about a cynical atheist who finds religion. Mostly known for the somewhat more characteristic instrumental single Midnight Express, a showcase for Bettencourt which still appears in the band's live set.
A reunion album whose title roughly translates as "Nostalgia For Rock" in Portuguese, "Saudades" lacks the unified lyrical themes of most of the band's work, instead emphasizing their Funk Metal style even on Pink Floyd tribute Comfortably Dumb. Take Us Alive also provided the title for their subsequent tour.
Album Title Drop: "Pornograffitti" and "Waiting For The Punchline" have their title tracks
Having three sides to every story is also a recurring lyrical theme in Cupid's Dead
"Saudades de Rock" has Peace (Saudade)
Christian Rock: Subversion. Song lyrics are inspired by Christianity here and there, but nothing is in-your-face about beliefs.
Christmas Songs: The B-side Christmas Time Again, though it doesn't exactly praise Christmas time.
Concept Album: "Pornograffiti" and "III Sides to Every Story" at least.
Country Music: Hole Hearted has a countryish acoustic orchestration and four-on-the-floor bass drum beat througout.
Intercourse with You: A few songs on the first album, but it's actually pretty vague about it. Subverted with the songs on Pornograffitti, while sexual references are made, it's more of a lament on how sex obsessed society is
Not Christian Rock: They are masters of this. While not a Christian band, Gery Cherone is himself an outspoken Christian, and the lyrics the a lot of their songs are filled with bible refrences and Christian themes. Some songs, such as Watching, Waiting, Hole Hearted, Am I Ever Gonna Change? and Rise and Shine are pretty much straight up Christian.