Extreme II – Pornograffitti, by Extreme
Suggested by Noel Bresland
When I was a teenager, I was all about the Metal.
You name it, I loved it. Thrash bands? Loved ‘em. Power Metal? Oh yes. New Wave of British Heavy Metal? Totally. More funky fare? Bring it on.
The only genre I avoided?
There were a few reasons. On the face of it, I found it silly. That’s rich, coming from a Manowar fan, a band so pompously bronzed they’re basically four David Dickinsons. I also found the songs a little flaccid, which is ironic considering their sexually charged lyrics.
But the main reason I steered clear? I felt that the bands didn’t represent me.
I mean, look at Motley Crue. Look at Poison. They’re all cheekbone and great hair, be it backcombed primp or rock excess rattail. Impossibly tall, impossibly thin, tattooed six packs, eyeliner and decadence, androgenous, sexy and effortlessly cool.
Me at fifteen? Chubby, nervous, stocky, balding, sweaty English virgin.
When Extreme arrived, I instantly hated them. Nuno Bettencourt, their guitarist, seemed to be the apex of the genre. And he was brilliant guitarist too.
Coming to this album now, some thirty years after release, I’m far more sanguine about this stuff. I can look past my prejudice, I can be the bigger man. And I’m not just talking girth.
Pornograffitti starts well, with the anthemic Decadence Dance. It’s very clear that the band are virtuosos, with Bettencourt’s precision twiddling finely paired with Gary Cherone’s wailing vocals. The riffs are hard throughout, syncopated and funky, and the solos are speedy and fun. Unfortunately, the song structure is pretty generic, with a disturbing fondness for an Anthemic Chorus. So many of the tracks rely on a chanted, crowd-pleasing line of cheese, exactly on time, exactly where you’d expect. It’s as if the band received The Big Book of Songwriting for Christmas, and are stuck on chapter two.
Tunes like Get The Funk Out play to the late-Eighties Spandex-clad audience that I was once almost part of, had I been six inches taller and six inches thinner, but today the lyrics sound ridiculous. That’s a good word, to be fair… ‘ridiculous’. A great deal of Pornograffitti resides within it, standing as a tribute to an age long past. The sound is a capsule, a monolith, a smirk. Just as Spinal Tap hilariously killed the music I loved, bands like The Darkness and Steel Panther are a dagger to the heart of this era’s credibility.
It’s fun, and it’s energetic, and it’s definitely top tier in its field. But it’s a field that’s becoming increasingly barren as the years roll by. I give Pornograffitti a generous 6/10, in apology to Nuno for my teenage jealousy.
My favourite song? More Than Words. You might have heard it.