Saturday, 4 January 2014

Extreme - Extreme II: Pornograffitti

 

A good seven years ago I purchased this album from a yard sale after a strong recommendation from my father. However, the £2 I spent on this I was originally going to buy some Mini Rolls which were on offer at the local corner shop. The question in my mind was if this album was going to be good, and I have to say it was the best £2 I spent that year. This album was released as soon as the glam metal explosion was starting to die down, Extreme's first album was slightly related to this with their look, but the music was far more superior instrumentally. Pornograffiti in my eyes is a solid album, an album dedicated to sex in a rude way but often polite too. The album starts beautifully with a lovely piano introduction from Nuno Bettencourt with soft rain in the background. Its calm, and then the guitar riff for “Decadence Dance” comes in and all of a sudden there is this burst of energy. The lyrics are just as catchy as the guitar riff, making this song one of the best on the album and also one of the longest. After this song you have a feel that just reeks of funk, even without a slap bass I still put this under a funk metal sound.

Their influences of Queen are well notable when it comes to the harmonised vocals, which sound brilliant. “Lil' Jack Horny” was next on the album, a strange name for a title which obviously reeks of the subject of genital action. The lyrics are quite funny, relating to nursery rhymes in a rather mildly explicit way. The horn section adds so much more depth to the mix, making the sound quite different to most mainstream metal bands during this time period. The solo is brilliant, proving that Nuno Bettencourt is fucking excellent and in my opinion he remains heavily underrated.

Two songs are gone, paving the way for “When I'm President” to kick some arse. This song keeps the energy of the album rawing, and the songs remain brilliantly catchy. The vocal harmonies are more involved in this song and are brilliantly effective, Pat and Nuno both sounding in sync with Gary Cherone's vocals remain strong and powerful. And the funk doesn't stop there, it's “Get the Funk Out" next. This track has been featured on plenty of rock compilation albums and remains one of the strongest songs on the album. The bassline keeps chugging along; it's groovy and supplies a brilliant rhythm throughout. The second Nuno's guitar screeches into the song the energy returned and flowed better than the previous songs. The chorus kicks arse, the verses kick arse, fuck it, the whole song kicks arse. Gary's voice is brilliant, if this album was sung by anyone differently I wouldn't be interested, it's a shame about Van Halen III.

The next track is pretty much Extreme's signature track, and from what I gather and agree on it's one of the greatest ballads to ever be made. “More Than Words” took over the world when it was released, everyone went crazy and people still do when they hear it. It's acoustic, the song clicks its fingers as if you're a dog and says ‘alright, you've had your fun for a bit now calm the fuck down and listen’. These lyrics are a change from the fun side and kick you right in the feels, it's beautiful. The playing, the vocal harmonies, the whole feel of the song is relaxing and wonderful, yet beautiful at the same time.  It remains one of (if not) my favourite ballads of all time.

Then the energy returns with “Money (In God We Trust)”, a massive tribute to the pieces of paper and collection of coins we all need to survive. The lyrics are from the perspective of a small kid with the “tooth fairy” thing and then links to growing older. It's a swift return to the funk riffs and solos that has so far made this album musically solid. “It('s A Monster)” follows suit, with the brief fast paced drum fill by Paul Geary. This song seems more slower and has less energy until the chorus kicks in, once again Gary and the backing vocals do it very well. The lyrics seem to be aimed at a sexual drive, or the perspective of a penis, I'm probably going to go for the first one.

Speaking of sexual drive, here comes the title track, which as you would've guessed is mainly based around sex. The lyrics are pretty much on about sex being everywhere near everyone, which is true I suppose, if there isn't a porno shelf in the corner shop then there will be a song on the radio relating to having a party and shagging. The music, as per usual, remains solid, though the riff seems to be less in your face than the previous songs. The chorus isn't that catchy, but it's still decent. Gary Cherone on the second half of the second verse goes slightly mad whilst singing; it's quite fun until you don't know what he says.

And now for another song to cut the mood slower, “When I First Kissed You”. I used to hate this track when I was younger, but it's actually a really nice track. However, it feels like it's on the wrong album, though it's nicely done and the production is great (one of two songs produced by Nuno Bettencourt on this album) it seems like the one puppy in the litter no one wants. Perhaps it's because the album is metal related and this was...too soft, I'm not sure. It's beautifully sang however by Cherone, which is why I'm not knocking it too much, it's good but it's the odd one of the bunch. “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)” is a short song, the riff is catchy, but lyrics are slightly funny, but the tongue twister bit in the song with the random bint is slightly cringey, and is annoying when she fucks up on ONE FUCKING WORD in the tongue twister. However, riff and solo both remain funky and high speed respectively, but near the start of Gary singing his first line there seemed to be an immediate audio cut out of his voice. "He-Man Woman Hater" pretty much sums up Nuno Bettencourt in his finest form, the “Flight of the Wounded Bumble Bee” solo just rocks. The speed and the technique played in this is insane, and then when it ends the riff drives through the speakers immediately. The solos on the intro and outro of the song were done by no other than Dweezil Zappa too! (Check out my review on Zappa Plays Zappa, nudge nudge, wink wink.) The riff is a mix between fast and slow and oozes funk, this song is the most underrated song on the album, instrumentally it's amazing, even if the lyrics are a bit weak, it's catchy.

Song For Love” is a ballad, joining forces with “More Than Words”, only mixing that with the sound of the album and sounding solid. It's like a Queen and Whitesnake blend, with vocal harmonies and the heavy riff just make this song brilliant. “Hole Hearted” finishes off the album on a gentle and folky note, and with “More Than Words”, it's an acoustic classic that's soft and gentle. The chorus is nice, and whoever the female vocalist in this song is, she harmonies beautifully with everyone else singing along, it's a great folk tune.

So there you have it, a few cringey parts on this album that annoy me slightly, but overall all it's solid in every aspect. More Than Words and Hole Hearted are different, but brilliant, and take a break from the heavy riffed drive the songs give. This has to be one of the funkiest albums I've ever listened too, without being completely related to funk. There may be no slap bass, but Nuno is superb in this and this album pretty much brought the best out Nuno and made him a firm icon to many guitarists throughout the world. 
~Matthew Clewley

8.7

2 comments:

  1. A fair review. This was one of my favourite albums when it came out in the summer of 1990, and they're one of the best bands I've seen live. I remember walking in to Lotus Records in Hanley when I was 16 years old and hearing 'More Than Words' playing, and instantly fell in love. I asked the guys behind the counter who it was, and they told me, then played me some more songs before I handed over my money and walked out clutching my brand new cassette tape! God, I miss Lotus Records! Extreme's slower songs were to 'prove' to fans they weren't 'just a metal band' and were capable of many different styles of music, but we all know what they're made of really. Saying that, I did really like the slower songs too, even the Frank Sinatra tribute - but then, I'm a girl. ;)

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