Everyone knows ‘More Than Words’. It’s most certainly one of the wonders of the power ballad universe. But if you believe this defines the Massachusetts band, then you should delve a little more deeply into the Extreme canon, because you’ll find them firing off in a myriad convincing directions.
It all began in 1985, when vocalist Gary Cherone and drummer Paul Geary, who were in a local band called The Dream, guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was in Sinful and bassist Pat Badger was playing with In The Pink. It was these four who then decided to join forces in a new band. And Extreme were born.
They spent the next couple of years working up a style which combined AOR, funk and American metal, with much predicated on both Cherone’s smooth vocal delivery and Bettencourt guitar flamboyance. A deal with A&M led to the release in 1989 of their self-titled, debut album, which gave them a wider fan base, and set the tone for the breakthrough in 1990 with the classic album ‘Extreme II: Pornograffitti’. This gave the band no less than four hit singles, and cemented their reputation as one of the most erudite and enigmatic bands on the planet. Their ability to be commercial catchy, while also powering through the riffs and channelling a funk groove was unique, and also meant they were hard to fathom and pigeon hole.
In 1992, Extreme were praised by no less than Brian May as “possibly more than any other group on this planet, the people that understand exactly what Queen was about all these years, and what Freddie was about all these years”. This was after a triumphant appearance at the Fredie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium. And, like their icons, Extreme were never afraid to shake things up and try different options. This came shining through on ‘III Sides To Every Story’, released in 1992. it might have failed to sell as well as its predecessor, but showcased the band’s determination to be cutting edge and take informed risks. A concept record, it was to prove the last release for this line-up, as Geary left to be replaced by Mike Mangini. However, by 1996 the band split up.
Over the next decade, the four original members pursued separate projects, with Cherone even briefly joining Van Halen. However, in 2004, they did briefly reunite for a short tour, but things truly got back on track in ’07 with Bettencourt, Badger and Cherone reuniting, although Kevin Figueiredo was on drums, as Geary was more involved on the business side of music. Since then, the band have not only successfully become a major touring band again, but have also begun work on new material for what would be their first new studio album since 2008’s ‘Saudades de Rock’.
But what Extreme will be doing at Ramblin’ Man is to showcase in its entirety the ‘…Pornograffitti’ album, expressing the divergence and brilliance of an album that has helped to define the way rock has developed and opened its borders over the past 25 years.
‘Get The Funk Out’, ‘More Than Words’, ‘Hole Hearted’
Extreme show their Queen credentials in 1992.
Their Finest Hour
‘Extreme II: Pornograffitti’ 1990