Album Review: Extreme – Pornografitti [1990]

Extreme - Pornografitti

So when we spent the weekend with her family in Moore, Jenny, her family and I went thrift store shopping. We visited a single Goodwill as we came to realize our desired destination was closed on Saturdays. I spent my time scouring the books, albums, and CDs – too much time actually. I saw a couple of video games in the glass cases around the cash register, but surely they had more. I figured they’d be with the other various media I was sifting through, but there was an electronics section that I didn’t examine. Regardless, I walked away with a few items – one of them being the CD Pornografitti by the 1980s/1990s funk metal band Extreme.

At the time, I was being awfully pretentious and was very skeptical of its quality. I’d never heard of the group and I mean, it’s an album called Pornografitti, how great can it be? It wasn’t until our drive home Sunday evening that I was given the opportunity to listen to it. As Jenny began falling asleep in the passenger’s seat, I began rocking out to the very Van Halen riffs. Strong Bad would have no qualms with this music. The first handful of songs were quite lengthy – averaging five minutes a piece – and they were enjoyable. With titles like “When I’m President” and “Get the Funk Out” it was easy to tell these guys were having a good time. I didn’t take them too seriously and it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciated it. Then “More Than Words” came on.

You know, that song. I was baffled. I figured “Okay, every metal album in the 1980s and early 1990s had to have a ballad and they must’ve just covered this song.” Then I looked it up real quick (don’t do this while driving folks) and realized “Holy shit, they did perform this song” and what’s more, they wrote it too! This song topped the Billboard charts; talk about a newfound respect! I continued listening as the night came on and the subsequent tracks returned to the band’s hair metal roots. It was all standard fare until “When I First Kissed You” came on and I questioned the band and the album again.

This song was not a mega-popular single or a single at all. Instead it was a piano-centric crooner song not unlike something Frank Sinatra would perform. It didn’t have that kind of glamour or sensuality, but it helped to portray the band’s broad interests and talents. Again, written by them – not simply a cover. In fact, all of the songs were written by Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt – the lead vocalist and guitarist respectively, although they handled other duties as well. So, as we’re nearing our destination, the songs return once more to the band’s standard fare. Until the final track: “Hole Hearted.”

I thought to myself “Are you kidding me!?” No way did they also do this but sure enough, written and performed by the group. I hear these two singles practically every day at work, when Christmas music isn’t playing that is. I’ve heard them so much just growing up that their lyrics and music are hard to forget. They’re not songs I would’ve actively sought out on iTunes or anything, but I’m glad to have broadened my horizons to the group and associated the two in my head.

That’s one of the great things about thrift store shopping. Sometimes you find surprises and sometimes you surprise yourself. I was prepared to have a laugh and write this album off and by proxy, the band. Instead, I found a group of optimistic hard rockers who had the talents to write diverse songs, be them generic hair metal, piano-centric croons, or heartfelt broad-based singles. If anything, they had fun at the time and someone’s still able to enjoy their music 24 years later courtesy of a thrift store. But I still didn’t find any other video games.

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