III Sides To Every Story
A & M Records, 1992
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/18/1997
Some time ago, I wrote a column on HitsWorld asking readers to send in their suggestions for albums people have never heard of from groups we have.
One reader has taken up the challenge and made a suggestion I never would have considered. Jeff Murray from Canada writes:
I think one of the most forgotten albums of the 90's was "III Sides To Every Story" by Extreme. Most people associate Extreme as a sappy "hair band" like Poison or Warrant due to their smash hit of "More Than Words" from the "Pornograffiti" album. But this is not true. Extreme are a band that has no real boundries. "III Sides To Every Story" is an absolute gem. The first section is funk-rock with Nuno Bettencourts' guitar mastery highlighted. Section 2 is radio friendly popish songs that are fabulous, but never made it to radio because they were slightly different (too much rock, or not enough rock). Then there is side three. Wow. Its an eighty piece orchestra (recorded at Abbey Road) intertwining 3 songs totaling about 20 minutes. Its a stunning work of art and I don't think its been discovered yet. But with Gary Cherone joining Van Halen, and Nuno's amazing solo effort, maybe fans will check it out.
I'm not sure if you could really qualify Extreme as a hair band; their studio work was far more advanced than glam bands ever dreamed about accomplishing. If anything, I would argue that Extreme could have been seen as "light pop" due to the successes of "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted," a song I am particularly fond of.
But Jeff is right - III Sides To Every Story is one that is worth investigating, though it is a step down from the mostly all-guns-blazing style of Pornograffiti. Five years after its release, the album stands on its own quite well.
The first single, "Rest In Peace," was a good idea to release - an amalgam of the power Extreme wanted to show off and the band's gentle side at the end of the song. (Nuno's riff on "Voodoo Chile," however, was unnecessary. He's a capable enough lead guitarist to not need to throw in Hendrix lines.) The problem radio probably had with the track was its length - at just over six minutes, it was most likely considered to be too long to be popular.
In fact, this is the problem with many of the good songs on III Sides To Every Story - the songs are poppy enough to have been smashes on Top 40 radio, except they were too long. "Peacemaker Die," a song I thought was one of the best on the album, is just as long as "Rest In Peace." The second single "Stop The World" is just under six minutes long. Only two songs on the whole disc are under 4-1/2 minutes, including the "filler" "God Isn't Dead?"
I think I would disagree with Jeff when he says the first third of the album is funk-rock. I think of funk, I think of Fishbone or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Extreme, especially on this album, was definitely in the hard rock, or power rock, vein. (Speaking of lack of funk, couldn't Paul Geary have put some energy into his drumming instead of recycling the same old beat throughout the entire album?)
The third chapter of the album (its parts are split into three stories: "Yours," "Mine" and "The Truth") is the most ambitious, featuring orchestral performances as well as the band itself. The three tracks pass pretty quickly, a sign that the music is good - but possibly some people thought this was a little too ambitious an undertaking.
Whatever the reason was, III Sides To Every Story did not deserve to meet the fate it did in the sales bins. Nor did the band deserve to fade from the limelight as quickly as they did - their final album, Waiting For The Punchline, stiffed, essentially ending the band and leaving lead singer Gary Cherone free to fill the ejector seat in Van Halen. This was a band that had the talent and insight to go far. It's too bad that we didn't give them more of a chance. I include myself in this category - had Jeff not written, this CD would have continued to languish in the now-famous Pierce Memorial Archives in a forgotten corner (right next to the worn "Pac-Man Fever" single and the Mr. Acker Bilk records).
It will be interesting to see how things unfold in the next year, with Nuno Bettencourt slated to release his first solo album in February and Cherone yet to make his debut with Van Halen. But they both should find their way to a computer and e-mail Jeff to thank him for pointing out to people how talented a band they used to be with.