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Hurtsmile – Hurtsmile

Hurtsmile – Hurtsmile [IMPORT] (2011, Frontiers Records)

1. “Just War Theory” … 2:41
2. “Stillborn” … 3:51
3. “Love Thy Neighbor” … 3:42
4. “Kaffur (Infidel)” … 4:29
5. “Painter Paint” … 2:30
6. “Tolerance Song [Edit]” … 3:23
7. “Set Me Free” … 4:19
8. “Jesus Would You Meet Me” … 3:15
9. “Slave” … 5:19
10. “Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads” … 6:25
11. “Just War Reprise” … 4:19
12. “The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” … 5:35

Gary Cherone – Vocals
Mark Cherone – Guitar
Joe Pessia – Bass, Mandolin
Dana Spellman – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Gary Cherone & Joe Pessia

One of the year’s best albums is one that I didn’t even know existed until just as it was released and even then I didn’t give much thought to buying it. Hurtsmile is a new side-project from Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone (his brother Mark is in the band as well) and I found out about this new venture thanks to a Frontier Records advertisement in a recent issue of  British magazine Classic Rock. I thought to myself that it could be an interesting listen because afterall I was a fan of Extreme’s Saudades de Rock but the last time Cherone fronted a new band (Tribe of Judash), I remembered not caring much for the one song I heard on the radio. I ended up checking out some YouTube clips from this album and really liked what I had heard.

Extreme did a good job of updating their sound with Saudades de Rock and many of these songs I could envision being on a new Extreme album, like the beautiful ballad “Painter Paint” or the reggae of “Just War Reprise” and “Love Thy Neighbor”. But this isn’t “Extreme featuring Gary Cherone”. The lyrics are a lot more serious and political and there’s no funk to be found. “Just War Theory”, “Kaffur (Infidel)”, “Tolerance Song (Edit)” and “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” tackle heavy issues. “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” is a Dylan-esque ballad that details the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Meanwhile, the infectious upbeat bluegrass sounds of “Jesus Would You Meet Me” sees a man (Gary Cherone?) asking Jesus if he’s going to meet him on his dying bed.

What I really love about this album is that you can’t really peg this album down to any certain style. “Painter Paint”, “Just War Reprise” and “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” are three completely different sounding songs: a sweet ballad (and not the “More Than Words” kind), reggae and bluegrass. Then on the flip side “Just War Theory”, “Set Me Free” and “Stillborn” feature enough modern hard rock crunch to be radio hits if anyone would actually pay attention.

Much credit due to the Cherone Brothers. Gary is really one of rock’s most underrated vocalists. He’s taken a beating over the years for Van Halen III but the guy is a great performer live and in the studio. He sings his butt off on this album, no small feat considering the genre hopping being done. He’s just as comfortable singing softly as he is screaming about war and tolerance or singing reggae. As for his brother Mark, this guy is a great guitar player. I didn’t even know Gary had a brother! Where has he been hiding him? Nuno is amazing but Mark more than holds his on this album with some great riffs and leads.

I can’t see this album budging from my Top 10 list for 2011. This band isn’t an Extreme clone but I think anyone that is an Extreme fan will love this album.

Highlights: “Just War Theory”, “Stillborn”, “Painter Paint”, “Jesus Would You Meet Me”, “Slave”, “Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads”

Buy the album at

Monster Madness

Various Artists – Monster Madness (2000, Razor & Tie Music)

1. “Dr. Feelgood” – Motley Crue – 4:51
2. “Unskinny Bop” – Poison – 3:48
3. “I Remember You” – Skid Row – 5:15
4. “Kiss Me Deadly” – Lita Ford – 4:01
5. “I Wanna Rock” – Twisted Sister – 3:04
6. “Silent Lucidity” – Queensryche – 5:49
7. “Epic” – Faith No More – 4:54
8. “Up All Night” – Slaughter – 3:47
10. “Don’t Treat Me Bad” – FireHouse – 3:58
11. “Hole Hearted” – Extreme – 3:40
12. “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – Quiet Riot – 5:20
13. “In My Dreams” – Dokken – 4:21
14. “Wait” – White Lion – 4:03
15. “Easy Come, Easy Go” – Winger – 4:03
16. “I Saw Red” – Warrant – 3:50
17. “I’ll See You in My Dreams” – Giant – 4:45

Following Razor & Tie’s success with Monsters of Rock and Monster Ballads, here comes Monster Madness! Monster Madness is essentially Monsters of Rock 3 (Monsters of Rock 2 was released a few months before this album) and is certainly superior to MOR 2 (which was already scraping the bottom of the barrel) and is just as good as the original MOR album in my opinion.

I mean, just look at the songs here. “Dr. Feelgood”, “Unskinny Bop”, “I Remember You”, “I Wanna Rock”, “Wait”, “Bang Your Head”, “Hole Hearted”, “Don’t Treat Me Bad”… It’s a hair metal dream! Even the odd inclusion of Queensryche and Faith No More is welcomed because those are killer songs.

The album takes me back to my youth. No, not the ’80s but the year 2000 when I bought this album and my girlfriend at the time loved it because it had Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly” on it. I still remember her getting all excited when she heard it for the first time in years.

Just a great “feelgood” album filled with major acts and songs.

EXTREME – Extreme

Extreme – Extreme (1989, A&M Records)

1. “Little Girls” … 3:45
2. “Wind Me Up” … 3:35
3. “Kid Ego” … 4:02
4. “Watching, Waiting” … 4:54
5. “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)” … 4:49
6. “Teacher’s Pet” … 3:01
7. “Big Boys Don’t Cry” … 3:34
8. “Smoke Signals” … 4:13
9. “Flesh ‘N’ Blood” … 3:30
10. “Rock A Bye Bye” … 5:56
11. “Play With Me” … 3:38

Gary Cherone – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Nuno Bettencourt – Lead Guitar, Synthesizer, Piano, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Pat Badger – Bass, Backing Vocals
Paul Geary – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Mack

Great debut that finds the band sounding a little bit like Van Halen sometimes (Nuno on “Teacher’s Pet” and “Play With Me”), though songs like “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)” and “Rock A Bye Bye” are pure Extreme classics.

The album cover is pretty striking, because if you didn’t know who Extreme was, you’d think they were just another hair metal band — but they’re actually far from that.

The album has two truly outstanding tracks for me – “Rock A Bye Bye”, which is the usual beautiful Extreme ballad and then “Play With Me” which I think it one of the greatest hard rock songs to come out of the ’80s and it immediately put Nuno Bettencourt on the map as a guitar hero (in fact, the song has been included in the Guitar Hero video game series!).

Besides Nuno’s guitar work, Gary Cherone is another bright spot. He’s always brought loads of personality to Extreme and it all started here (and of course, the backing vocals in general are great as well).

This one can be found new ‘n’ cheap and it’s definitely worth the investment.

Highlights: “Little Girls”, “Kid Ego”, “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today”, “Teacher’s Pet”, “Rock A Bye Bye”, “Play With Me”

EXTREME – Pornograffitti

Extreme – Pornograffitti (1990, A&M Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Decadence Dance” … 6:49
2. “Li’l Jack Horny” … 4:51
3. “When I’m President” … 4:21
4. “Get The Funk Out” … 4:24
5. “More Than Words” … 5:34
6. “Money (In God We Trust)” … 4:11
7. “It (‘s a Monster)” … 4:24
8. “Pornograffitti” … 6:15
9. “When I First Kissed You” … 4:00
10. “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)” … 3:38
11. “He-Man Woman Hater” … 6:20
12. “Song For Love” … 5:55
13. “Hole Hearted” … 3:39

Gary Cherone – Lead Vocals
Nuno Bettencourt – Guitar, Piano, Keyboard, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Pat Badger – Bass, Backing Vocals
Paul Geary – Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Dweezil Zappa – Guitar
Pete Christlieb – Sax
Joel Peskin – Sax
Bob Findley – Trumpet
Chuck Findley – Trumpet
Dick Hyde – Trombone
Bill Watrous – Trombone

Produced by: Michael Wagener

AKA – Extreme II: Pornograffitti. Great album. Extreme were a band I originally had a hard time getting into outside of the mega hits “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted”. Upon first listen, this album was just too much funk metal for me, but now I’ve seen the error of my ways. Funny enough, I felt the opposite about 2008’s Saudades de Rock… which didn’t have *enough* funk metal!

So besides the two previous mentioned songs (which didn’t really represent the band’s overall style accurately), there’s a number of monsters here. “Get the Funk Out” is probably my favorite Extreme song, it’s so big and bombastic and catchy. I love it.

Check out “He-Man Woman Hater” for some great work from Nuno.

Highlights: “Decadence Dance”, “Li’l Jack Horny”, “Get the Funk Out”, “More than Words”, “Pornograffitti”, When I First Kissed You”, “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)”, “He-Man Woman Hater”, “Song for Love”, “Hole Hearted”

The Top Ten Albums of 2008 (#6-10)

2008 has been a phenomenal year in the rock & metal world. Legends returned with a vengeance and were met with  praise and success (AC/DC, Metallica, Motley Crue) and other legends returned to be met with confusion and/or slower than expected sales (Judas Priest, Guns N’ Roses). There were a few surprises, and a few disappointment as well. Today, we take a look at #6-10, tomorrow #1-5.

6. Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles

The Crue really upped their game with this release. After hearing the new songs from Red, White and Crue, I was excited to hear a full new albums from these guys and they delivered. The title track is a killer Crue song and stands with all of the classics in their catalog. It also debuted with respectable sales and was supported by the fun and successful Crue Fest tour.

7. SteelHeart – Good 2B Alive

Out of nowhere, SteelHeart delivers in 2008! I was blown away by how good this album was. SteelHeart’s never been a bad band, so I didn’t expect anything horrible, but who knew modern hard rock and the 80s melodic hard rock sound could be fused together so perfectly? Milijenko Matijevic’s voice is STILL one of the most powerful in rock. Shame not many people seemed to notice this album when it came out. Many tracks were worthy of radio play.

8. Judas Priest – Nostradamus

I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed by this album (though not as much as others) when it first came out. Concept albums don’t do much for me in general, but after giving the album a few closer listens, it’s really grown on me. It’s still bloated, overproduced and has way too much filler in the form of instrumentals, but underneath all of that, between those two discs, is a very good Priest album.

9. Buckcherry – Black Butterfly

Another album that took me by surprise. I’ve always been a fan of the idea and image of Buckcherry more than the music itself, but Black Butterfly has definitely proven the band’s worthiness to me. From top the bottom, the album is enjoyable and the band has begun to broaden their tastes a bit. This album seems to have failed to replicate the success of their last album, 15, which is a shame because it’s superior in nearly every way.

10. Various Artists – We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year

Seriously. Who woulda thunk an indie release full of heavy metal takes on Christmas songs would be good, let alone great? I absolutely love this album and I know I’ll be playing it for years to come. I almost feel a bit guilty for ranking it above some of the honorable mentions, but when I’m having this much fun listening to an album, I can’t worry about that!

Honorable Mentions. A couple of albums that were very good, but as whole, didn’t receive as many listens and weren’t as consistent. Not bad albums by any means, all are worth picking up, but they just lacked that extra something to warrant a Top 10 spot.

Tesla – Forever More

A solid effort, but just didn’t come close to Into the Now for me.

Journey – Revelation

This was actually another nice surprise, but as good as it was, I’m a hard rock guy at heart, not an AOR guy.

Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Avantasia started off 2008 in a great way, and it almost made the list, but I my interests wanes listening to nothing but an album full of power metal. That’s why Edguy made the list and this album didn’t.

Extreme – Saudades de Rock

Really strong record that featured one of my favorite songs of the year (“King of the Ladies”). A bit too slow at times to get into the Top 10 though.

Stop by tomorrow as I present numbers 1-5 of 2008! And be sure to check out these fine sites for even more best of ’08 lists:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hard Rock Hideout
Hair Metal Mansion
Heavy Metal Addiction
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense
Rock Of Ages

Get. The. Funk. Out.

Am I the only one who really wants to cut that strap off Gary or at least pull the other one back up?

EXTREME – Saudades de Rock

Extreme – Saudades de Rock (2008, Open E Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Star” … 4:11
2. “Comfortably Dumb” … 4:44
3. “Learn To Love” … 5:27
4. “Take Us Alive” … 3:23
5. “Run” … 4:41
6. “Last Hour” … 5:37
7. “Flower Man” … 3:54
8. “King Of The Ladies” … 4:22
9. “Ghost” … 4:58
10. “Slide” … 4:35
11. “Interface” … 4:34
12. “Sunrise” … 6:14
13. “Peace (Saudade)” … 6:37

Gary Cherone – Lead Vocals
Nuno Bettencourt – Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Pat Badger – Bass, Vocals
Kevin Figueirido – Drums

Produced by: Nuno Bettencourt

Wow! Fantastic album. And I’m not a big Extreme fan. I own Pornograffitti and I don’t really care for it, so I wasn’t expecting much here (especially since I don’t like the lead single “Star”), but what a surprise. This album is great. The songs and production is just spectacular. There’s a bit too many mellow songs here, but that’s nitpicking because even those are done extremely (HA! Get it?) well.

“King of the Ladies” is a great rocker and as I say alot when veteran acts release new albums, if it wasn’t for Extreme being considered a so-called “80s band”, it would probably get a lot of airplay. Same goes for “Ghost”, which sounds like something Coldplay will do. But the band doesn’t come off as sounding forced modern rock, this is still an album for Extreme fans with an Extreme sound and I don’t see how anyone who digs their hard rock/funk style could be disappointed with “Slide”, which is arguably the album’s most energetic song.

This album leaves me thinking perhaps I should give Pornograffitti and the rest of their catalog a second chance.

Highlights: “Comfortably Dumb”, “Run”, “Last Hour”, “King Of The Ladies”, “Ghost”, “Slide”, “Interface”, “Sunrise”

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