We won't try to, force feed you, get the funk out.
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...
- Nuno Bettencourt - guitar
- Gary Cherone - vocals
- Patrick "Pat" Badger - bass
- Kevin "kfigg" Figueiredo - drums
- Paul Geary - drums
- Mike Mangini - drums
- 1989 - Extreme
- 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-esque Hair 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-inspired radio hit "Play With Me", a non-single from the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack added at the last minute, helped break Extreme out and point the way towards their later eclectic ways.
- 1990 - Pornograffitti
- 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-cheek rapping thrown in for good measure.
- 1992 - III Sides To Every Story
- 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.
- 1994 - Waiting For The Punchline
- A seemingly-final effort mostly In the Style of Soundgarden, 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.
- 2008 - Saudades de Rock
- 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.
More than Tropes:
- 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)".
- Call-Back: "A Song for Love" references the song "Big Boys don't Cry" from the previous album by name. That song itself is then referenced by the next album's "Rise N' Shine"
- Christmas Songs: The B-side "Christmas Time Again", though it doesn't exactly praise Christmas time.
- Cliché: A lot of their lyrics revolve around taking a cliche and giving it a new or ironic meaning
- Country Music: "Hole Hearted" has a countryish acoustic orchestration and four-on-the-floor bass drum beat throughout.
- Cover Version: "Strutter", "Help!", "Love Of My Life", and One-Hit Wonder Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music".
- Darker and Edgier: On a strictly lyrical scale, Pornograffiti has much weightier themes than the party metal lyrics of Extreme, although the music is more or less on the same heaviness level. III Sides to Every Story is darker still, dealing with concepts such as war, racism, God, and one's place in the world. It also has some of their heaviest songs, a few of them approaching straight up metal territory. The next album had similar lyrical themes, but with a slower, grungier sound.
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Hole Hearted" can be interpreted as being a regular love song or about having a so-called "god-shaped hole".
- Foreshadowing: The song "Get the funk Out" references lyrics in almost every other song on the album, and since it is one of the first songs on the album, most of that is a sneak peak of what's yet to come.
- Epic Rocking: The Prog tinged 3 part suite "Everything Under the Sun" is definitely this. In fact, each single part is pretty long in its own right, each one being well over 6 minutes, and the finale being over 8.
- Genre Mashup: Now Funk Metal, now straight pop, now Progressive Rock, now pre-rock pop, now Yngwie Malmsteen-like classical guitar!
- Hair Metal: Extreme came in with the last wave of the trend and are usually lumped in, though their take on the pop-metal sound owes to plenty more than Van Halen.
- Hard Rock: leanings towards this style are found all throughout their music, though Saudades De Rock is the only album that could be considered pretty much a straight up example.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Actually the name of one of the tracks on Pornograffitti.
- Homage: The first comeback single, "Rock and Roll Man", to the late Brad Delp. Also, the guitar solo of "Rest in Peace" contains a snippet of "Voodoo Child".
- In the Style of: Twice on Pornograffitti - "More Than Words" confused listeners with its Everly Brothers-inspired sound while "When I First Kissed You" is a lampshaded Frank Sinatra homage. "Ghost" from Saudades de Rock is likewise a Coldplay pastiche.
- 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.
- Large Ham: Gary Cherone is a very enthusiastic singer, as his infamous Van Halen stint handily proves.
- Last Note Hilarity: "Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)" is left unresolved...or not...
- The song "Flesh'N'Blood" ends with a belch.
- Lighter and Softer: Saudades is probably their least serious album since their debut album.
- Money Song: "Money (In God We Trust)", with lines like "Money, my personal savior/Money, material lord", is a fairly sarcastic take.
- Motor Mouth: The words in "Play With Me" fly by as fast as the riffs, and "Cupid's Dead" isn't the easiest song to keep up with either.
- Mr. Fanservice: Nuno Bettencourt, hands down. As seen here, his good looks have held up remarkably well with age.
- Pop-Star Composer: Bettencourt did the soundtrack for Smart People, even bringing in Gary Cherone for one track.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Played for Laughs on "Get The Funk Out" while Pat Badger is playing his cool funk inspired bassline."Hey Patrick! Not bad, for a pasty faced white boy!"
- Progressive Rock: Especially on III Sides to Every Story. Nuno's guitar solos often have a neoclassical quality to them, as best seen in "Play With Me" on Extreme.
- Rap Rock: "When I'm President" is a curious example. "Cupid's Dead" also contains a rap section towards the end.
- Rearrange the Song: Extreme have released "Horn Mix" versions of "Hole Hearted" and "Cupid's Dead" as B-sides.
- Shout-Out: "I read the news today, oh boy/About a tragic comedy", from "Cupid's Dead". Pat Badger also uses Paul McCartney's Höfner bass guitar in the "Tragic Comic" video. And then there's "Comfortably Dumb".
- The "Voodoo Child" snippet in the guitar solo of "Rest in Peace".
- Vocal Tag Team: Gary Cherone has Nuno Bettencourt harmonizing with him on many occasions. Nuno sings significant lines in the songs too.
- Nuno and Pat Badger could be considered as one. Almost every Extreme song has them doing two-part distinct backing vocals.