I always liked Extreme, a great live band and super talented musicians. They’ve put out some great albums over the years but I never thought they managed to nudge things into ‘classic’ territory – until now! Six is all you hoped it would be and far more. This is Extreme’s masterpiece.
I have to admit I got in early with Extreme picking up their debut album before ‘Pornograffitti’ really launched them. I saw them live early too in the UK and they blew me away each time. Gary is a great frontman and Nuno a genius of course but equally Pat and Paul also added more than your average rhythm section – and man was that rhythm section an integral part of the sound!
As a band it has been an interesting story since that initial success with a series of solid records before their mid-90’s hiatus when Gary and Nuno pursued a number of projects no less than Gary’s stint in Van Halen. The first two albums, let’s face it were sheer fun, and even if the second record took itself a lot more seriously it had some killer tracks. ‘It’s’ is still one of my favourite songs of the period and there are plenty more great songs in there.
As much as I loved Extreme though, in that first period to me they were always patchy, but patchy in a good way in that they seemed to want to tell a story or tackle an issue, so some album tracks as a result fed the narrative rather than blew you away. I loved those first two records but ‘III Sides’ to me was hit and miss – I loved the funk but couldn’t handle the Rap, and much as I loved the themes and lyrical content, which tackled a few thorny issues, to me it was too overblown and I got lost in some of the Prog elements. ‘Waiting for the Punchline’ I felt was still as astute lyrically but took on a little too much of a Grunge flavour for my liking.
The Gary joined Van Halen just after Nuno announced he was going solo…
Fast forward a few years…
It’s widely reported that Extreme was going to make new music for the last decade. I spoke to Gary while Hurtsmile was on the go and it was never in doubt, then in 2015 he confirmed that there was going to be a new album to follow up 2008’s variable ‘Saudades de Rock’, but the first really solid hints of any substance came in 2017 in a number of interviews so in reality we’ve been expecting ‘6’ since 2017. Nuno of course has been out with Rhianna and then of course we had that pandemic thing…
Then this year on March 1st we had the single ‘Rise’ and everyone seemed suitably impressed. Later in April 19th we got ‘Banshee’ and ‘#Rebel’ – which all go to make up the first three tracks on the new record, but now I have the whole album, and man does it hit the spot.
So if you’ve been suitably impressed with those singles you’ve heard the opening salvo which starts with the power and drive of ‘Rise’ then the hard-driving, hard-rocking brilliance of ‘#Rebel’ and the smooth rush of ‘Banshee’. Well that wonderful opening then leads into ‘Other Side of the Rainbow’ which as it suggests just takes you to another place entirely off the back of a beautiful refrain and inspired Nuno solo.
‘Small Town Beautiful’ takes the mood in another direction, a light and delicate acoustic number that just sweeps over you before bursting into a blossoming guitar solo, and a smooth ride out. A bass and drum groove lead into ‘The Mask’ which brings us to the half way point with a half-spoken vocal before it’s all kicked up a notch by the simmering guitars, there’s such a great groove it’s impossible not to be carried along. Nuno’s solo is just genius.
At this point you imagine flipping over the vinyl and what you get is ‘Thicker Than Blood’ which starts with a great groove and fuzzy guitar whist Gary semi-raps the lyrics, there’s a certain metallic hypnotism to the deep groove and a touch of Living Colour. ‘Save Me’ adds a certain infectious chug as it crawls to a ‘bright blue sky’ chorus; and ‘Hurricane’ just has you drifting along with its acoustic simplicity. This is heady stuff.
‘Xout’ reconnects with that hypnotic groove and shifts in and out of shadows and penultimate track ‘Beautiful Girls’ just has that ‘island’ vibe that makes you want to get up and dance, it’s a happy song from a great album full of colour and texture.
‘Here’s to the Losers’ which closes is another slow burner of epic proportions which is simply beautiful, and man those backing vocals! Extreme have done it – created a record without a low point. This is wonderful stuff… the complete Extreme album.
9 / 10