Posts Tagged ‘Pat Travers’

Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale)

January 20th, 2015
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When the rock world got together in 1992 to celebrate the life of Queen singer Freddy Mercury, Extreme were, in my humble opinion of the time, the highlight of the show. Not, I hasten to add, because I loved Extreme and wanted to see them, but because they blew everybody else off the stage. “That guy,” I said to people at the time, referring to singer Gary Cherone’s onstage attire, “will single handedly bring spats back into style.” Extreme were riding high at the time, two-years after their breakthrough album, Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale), and it wasn’t absurd to imagine Extreme breaking through to the next level, into the pantheon of huge rock acts.


Alas, it was not to be and by 1996 Extreme had split and singer Cherone was fronting an ill-advised version of Van Halen, having replaced Sammy Hagar in that particular piece of disfunction.

Twenty-five years after the release of Extreme II, Universal Music has given the album the remastering treatment, giving us a chance to re-examine the Funked Up Fairy Tale. On closer inspection, and the lens of time, it turns out Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale) is a better album than I remembered it.

I don’t remember, for example, it fading in with a little piano interlude over a rainfall backdrop, starting off with a hint of The Who’s Love Reign O’er Me before Decadence Dance kicks things seriously into gear at about 1:30. I don’t remember either the almost jazzy When I First Kissed You, Cherone crooning more than belting it out. As well Song for Love, both very melodic and slightly anthemic, didn’t immediately come to mind upon hearing it. The thing is, they’re not just forgotten songs, they’re all excellent, giving the album some different sounds, different flavours throughout. Even Cherone’s hippity-hop routine in When I’m President works well and sounds good.

Then there’s the stuff you do remember: “He turned me on to how funky rock ‘n’ roll can be,” guitarist and songwriter Nuno Buttencourt says of guitar legend Pat Travers. Travers adds a vocal to Get The Funk Out, an appropriate homage, as Get the Funk Out is one of the funkiest hard rock songs you’ll ever hear. Hole Hearted is a Bettencourt gem, my longtime favourite off this album and it holds up spectacularly.

Then there’s More Than Words. You’ll remember it, a lovely romantic ballad that was everywhere for a year or two. Turns out though, while it’s still lovely, it’s hardly romantic. A closer inspection and you realize, not simply a lovey dovey song:

Saying I Love You
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you not to say,
but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel

Shut Up and Show Me wouldn’t be an inappropriate title, although it might have sold a few less records. No, More Than Words isn’t a romantic ballad, it’s an extraordinary vocal song, once again different than the rest of the album, just in this case, the best song on the album. Possibly the best song of 1990.

As always with these remasters, there is a Deluxe Edition that features bonus material. In this case, it’s an extra disk, that features some interesting snippets. A couple of b-sides, a radio edit of More Than Words. But beyond that, some alternate mixes of More Than Words prove beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s a pretty vocal song that works very nicely regardless of accompaniment – even with nothing but a conga drum – and are worth a listen. And Get the Funk Out (What The Funk? Mix) is a straighter up rock version of the song that gives you a hint of what the song may have been, and shows how versatile Extreme’s rhythm section was.

I can honestly say, I’ve been enjoying both the original album and the bonus material these past few weeks. Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale) is well worth revisiting.

Disc One

  1. Decadence Dance
  2. Li’l Jack Horny
  3. When I’m President
  4. Get the Funk Out
  5. More Than Words
  6. Money (In God We Trust)
  7. It (‘s A Monster)
  8. Pornograffitti
  9. When I First Kissed You
  10. Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)
  11. He-Man Woman Hater
  12. Song For Love
  13. Hole Hearted

Disc Two

  1. More Than Words (Remix)
  2. Nice Place to Visit (Single B-Side)
  3. More Than Words (Edit)
  4. Decadence Dance (Edit)
  5. Money (In God We Trust) (Edit)
  6. More Than Words (Non Percussion Version)
  7. Get the Funk Out (What The Funk? Mix)
  8. More Than Words (A Cappella With Congas)
  9. Get The Funk Out (12″ Remix)
  10. Sex N’ Love (Single B-Side)

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The Freedom of Music: In the Heat of the Shite

August 14th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

It was the great cover that made me listen in the first place to The Pat Travers Band Heat in the Street. It sat in my bedroom for ages, along with Puttin’ It Straight, a later Travers opus. The covers to both were “themed covers,”© to coin a phrase. On the front was a scene, oddly normal, but strange. The back cover is the same scene, minutes later, and things are no longer normal.

sidebar-4 Heat in the Street, for example, features the band members suntanning in a parking spot on a busy city street. Two female police officers and a male one are on the scene. Strange, but believable. On the back cover all normalcy is gone. The police officers have not arrested the sun-tanners laying on lounges in their bathing suits, but have joined the party. The police women, it turns out, are hotties, and sitting, shorts open, talking to the band members.

I spent hours pouring over that album cover, studying the band members, studying the police women, looking for clues in the front of the hot party girls of the back, looking for other, less obvious differences between front and back. I loved that cover, and eventually it led me to listen to the music inside.

“Some call what we play blues based rock,” Pat Travers told the audience at the Kitchener Blues Fest last weekend. “Some call it,” he hesitates, searching for word, “shite, I guess,” he shrugs and laughs. Well yea, that’s probably true. If it’s not blues based rock, it’s not really anything. And not really anything is pretty much shite.

Fortunately for Pat Travers, he qualifies as blues based rock.

Travers is probably most known songs for a couple of pretty politically incorrect numbers. Snortin’ Whiskey and Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights promote violence and drug use. Good party music,we called it in the 70’s and early 80’s. Shite people would call it today, pretty much without listening.

Snortin’ Whiskey is a party rocker. The main line, “snortin’ whiskey and drinkin’ cocaine,” is certain to offend the folks at MADD, AA, and any other temperance group with a Facebook page. That one line is so inappropriate, if Travers was writing it now he would be compelled to rap it over a sample of When the Levee Breaks.

Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights is worse:

No Kiddin’, I’m ready to fight.
I’ve been lookin’ for my baby all night
If I get her in my sight,
Boom Boom (out go the lights)

traversOf course, it’s an old Little Walter song, a true blues legend. And there is an argument it’s not about smacking his woman around, it’s about making love to her. With Travers pumping two guitars through Marshall Amps at volume, both songs fall clearly into the rock category. And both would qualify as traditional, roadhouse blues based on the lyrics. So yea, blues based rock Pat Travers music undeniably is.

In 1982, Travers hit the Am radio with the top 40 hit, I La La La Love You. It’s your pretty standard 80’s fare, keyboards, over produced guitars and “I la la la love you,” lyrics. It is, some might call it, shite.

I keep returning to that Heat in the Street cover. Clearly The Pat Travers Band had a sense of fun, that was the draw of the cover (hot police women notwithstanding). And then you put the album on, and the song, Heat in the Street comes up. A classic 70’s rock lick, played over an A chord: a complex version of Tie Your Mother Down, and you think, who cares what they call it? This guy is a virtuoso guitar player, playing great rock songs, I’ll listen all day.

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