Thursday, August 07, 2008

Extreme: Saudades de Rock

Its a bad title. Apparently 'saudades' (pronounced 'sow-dodge') means something like 'vague nostalgic yearning' - a nostalgic yearning for rock. Unfortunately, this is a feeling you are left with after having listened to the album.

In their time together (the first time around) Extreme managed to produce two excellent albums bookended by two which were OK, with occasional flashes of greatness. After they split in 1996, Gary Cherone went on to various stage musical roles, was briefly a member of Van Halen, recorded a depressing album called 'Exit Elvis' by 'Tribe of Judah' and then released a really quite bad (and very middle of the road) EP under the name of 'Cherone'. Nuno Bettencourt on the other hand has had a quite interesting 'solo' career. One album released under his own name, two under the name of 'Mourning Widows', one CD and an EP under the name of 'Population 1' and a CD under the name of 'Dramagods' - all of these (IMO) either very good (Nuno CD, 2nd Mourning Widows, Dramagods) or excellent (1st Mourning Widows CD, Population 1). I think its fair to say that Gary needs Nuno more than Nuno needs Gary. But neither had great post-Extreme financial success. So the reunion was inevitable.

And so, 13 years since the last Extreme album we have "Saudades de Rock". As you'd expect, this album has many bits which are basically the band trying to prove that they're still the band they once were. Also it has many bits that sound like the sort of stuff Nuno has been doing on his own for the past decade. But sadly it doesn't have anything new and fresh, its all nostalgia and stuff we've already heard before.

Track by track:
  1. Star: This song is here to proclaim that this is the same band you used to like. Guitar riffs and verses are basically the distilled essence of 'Pornograffitti' while the harmonies on the chorus are more like 'III sides'. I think in time the chorus will get really annoying, but on the first few listens its quite a good song.
  2. Comfortably dumb: Another song in the funk-rock style of 'Pornograffitti'. But not that interesting.
  3. Learn to love: Oh. Another song in the style of 'Pornograffitti'. Yawn. It also instills a bit of the Zep-influenced 'Punchline' album. By this point I'm getting bored of hearing Gary Cherone scream rather than singing.
  4. Take us alive: Thankfully this track is more interesting and fun than the three that have preceded it. This is flavoured with 'tex-mex' seasoning. I could have said 'country' there, but thankfully it doesn't go that far. I like this one a lot.
  5. Run: Not very interesting, but at least this is in the style of 'III sides' a bit more. Variety is good.
  6. Last hour: One of those quiet-shouty-quiet-shouty type songs. I quite like it, but fear that I might tire of it.
  7. Flower man: If you've heard Nuno's solo album you'll recognise this song as basically 'Two Weeks in Dizkneelande' with different lyrics. If you've not heard the Nuno track, this will probably be one of the best tracks on the album for you.
  8. King of the ladies: Oh dear, this is embarrassing. More nostalgia. With bad lyrics.
  9. Ghost: Starts like a ballad, this album should have had one before now, but builds in beat as the song goes on. Nice piano and vocal performance. You can see the Queen influence quite clearly.
  10. Slide: Nice and funky album filler track. But quite good for that.
  11. Interface: This song is on Nuno's last album, 'Love' by Dramagods. Its a nice song, but the new version doesn't really add anything to the existing version.
  12. Sunrise: Slow funk-rock with a touch of Zep. Degenerates into stereotypical Extreme for the solo. But one of the better tracks on the album for all that.
  13. Peace (Saudade): Saving the best for last. Quiet, slow and beautiful. This is the stand-out track on the album. Shame it comes so late in the day.
  14. Americocaine (Demo 1985): A funny way to end the 'comeback' album, with an old song that wasn't good enough to put on any of the earlier albums. Just sounds like late 80s album filler material.
So, all in all, a disappointing album with a couple of highlights. I think I'll still go and see them in concert when they get to Scotland (Glasgow Carling Academy, Sat 15th November) but I'll be hoping for a greatest hits set, not a set full of the new stuff.

But maybe the album will grow on me...

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At 1:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with most of this review.
I love the album, and so do many of Extreme's long-time fans.
Just proof that 'critics' talk constant shite.

At 2:00 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

Who made me a 'critic'?

I'm just a rock fan, expressing my opinion.

I haven't actually heard/read any 'long-time fans' opinions of it yet, nor any formal reviews by music critics.

I just think they could have done better. It is below the quality level of ALL of Nuno's post-Extreme output, thus a disapointment.

For what its worth, 'III sides' is probably still in my top twenty favourite albums of all time, and 'Pornograffitti' isn't far behind.

At 3:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree a little and am left feeling a bit more satisfied by the tracks than you, but it's clear that you're not a "critic" and as much of a fan as anyone.

We all want to see them put out what they're capable of.

Nice review. Thanks.

At 3:44 pm, Blogger Chris HH said...

What do critics of critics talk? ;-)

At 3:52 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

2nd Anonymous:

I have to say that my first impressions of the album were bad. And I was disappointed on the first few listens. But 'Star' in particular has gone up in my estimation since I wrote that review. Maybe the rest will grow on me.

For what its worth, some of my all time favourite albums of all time needed to grow on me. For example, I didn't much care for 'This Strange Engine' by Marillion on the first few listens, but now absolutely love it - even a decade after it came out.

At 1:49 am, Anonymous H Morales TEXAS said...

Well I am listening to it now. waiting for this Album. I am a fan. Nuno's Playing is superb. I agree the songs are not as produced as stuff on III Sides or Porno Graffiti...but I am really a fan of Waiting For The Punch because it had more of a Raw feel to it. To me that indicats an album that was played with more heart, not worring about A&R guys forcing a "Hit" out of the band...if that makes any sense.

So far my Fav songs:

Star----very "Queen" like. just Dig it

Comfortable Dumb---Reminds me of WFTP stuff

Run---Funk Rock...Groove...Dig it.

On "Flower Man".....YES!!!

So far so good.


At 11:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with that review. This album is not what what i was waiting for. I'm a die-hard fan of PORNOGRAFFITTI and it's easy to hear that SAUDADES has not anything in common with that album. Too bad for me.

At 5:29 am, Blogger Jason said...

I live in the U.S. and just saw these guys on Sunday August 10. As far as their performance, it was spectacular. Not one disappointing moment. So, if you have the chance to see them, do it, you won't regret it.
As far as the album is concerned, I personally like it after about 2 full listens. We are all just sharing opinions here, and no-one's is better than another's. However, we are talking about a band that hasn't put out a studio album since 1995 (that's 13 years, for those of you playing at home).
What am I saying? We have all been waiting for this album for a long time. My suggestion to anyone who is disappointed by it, is to give it some time. You've waited 13 years for the album. Give yourself more than a couple of days to form an opinion.

At 2:02 am, Blogger Rob said...

I thought this album was terrible at first but after giving it a good few listens I'm absolutely loving it!!

Can't wait to finally see them in november

At 5:38 am, Blogger jefry said...

Rick, c'mon. you're too hard too critize on them. just see the whole picture, the trend is about back to 80's now and what i heard from this album, they gave us some nostalgic to what we've ever lived back to 80's. so i disagree with your critic, i love this album, not for the first time i heard them, after 3 times then i knew what they are trying to imply. just don't like the ballad last hour.
i've seen their concert 6 months ago and they still kickin' ass.

At 4:32 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

Now that several months have passed since I last listened to this album, and the disappointment has faded, I think I'll go and revisit it. Will maybe comment after.


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