For a brief time in the early 90s, funk metal was a thing. The band that invented it, was Extreme. Their first album was a minor success, but they hit it big with their second, a concept album about society being obsessed with money and sex. The ballad, ‘More than Words’, was a huge hit, and most people didn’t realize what it was about (a guy telling a woman that if she loved him, she’d sleep with him).
That song is what the band is mostly remembered for now, but it was like no other song on the album. Songs like “Decadence Dance” and “Get the Funk Out” added a funkiness to heavy rock, just when hair metal was getting stagnant and churning out bands like Pretty Boy Floyd. Songs like “When I’m President” highlight the inventiveness of Nuno Bettencourt’s playing. There is no question that he was one of the shred superstars of his era.
“Get The Funk” out was another major hit, and with a horn section in tow, it’s a classy track. The thing with Extreme was, Nuno in particular was as good a guitarist as anyone on the scene, but his interest was in songs, not just playing fast.
“It’s a Monster” is another track full of shredding guitar playing. It segues in to the title track. All the way through, the twin influences of funk and hard rock merge perfectly to create amazing music. Not one note on this album sounds predictable or generic. The title song is about society being damaged by sex being used to sell everything. If you agree or not, it was a lot more thoughtful than songs with titles like “Pet The Hot Kitty”. The guitar solo on this one is a real highlight.
Next up the album takes a left turn and turns out a piano ballad, called “When I First Kissed You”. It’s the sort of song you wouldn’t buy a CD of, but it’s a welcome interlude on an album full of hard rock music.
Next up is “Suzi Wants Her All Day Sucker”. This entire album is so good, any song could basically be called a highlight. This music sounds as fresh as it did in 1990. It segues in to a super fast rendition of “The Flight Of the Bumble Bee”, the one moment of pure shred on this album.
The next track, “He Man Woman Hater” is about misogyny and as such, feels as topical as ever, today. Of course, the guitar playing is excellent. There’s a huge lead break in this one.
The last two songs are both left of center, “Song for Love” is a full band ballad that would have made a great single. It has a real Motown feel to it.
The last song is an acoustic rock song. It was also quite a successful single.
From here, the band released another album in this overblown style, called “Three Sides To Every Story”. It is also excellent. A lack of success left them bitter and their last album is a lot more mainstream. They reunited this century and released an excellent new album, as well as a live album, and a second live album where they play this album in full. Nuno has also participated in ‘shred’ package tours with people like Zakk Wylde. Incidentally, he married Suze from the Baby Animals. They divorced in 2013.
Extreme were definitely not a hair metal band, and definitely one of the better bands of that generation. This album was their high point. Well worth checking out.