REVIEW: Extreme – The Best of Extreme: An Accidental Collication of Atoms? (1997)

Welcome to GREATEST HITS WEEK! This is an idea I nicked from Aaron over at the KMA.  (For his original Greatest Hits Week, click here!)  

All week, we will be looking at different (and I hope interesting) hits albums from various groups. Let’s get this one out of the way first though: the proverbial contractual obligation album!

Scan_20150804EXTREME – The Best of Extreme: An Accidental Collication of Atoms? (1997 A&M)

The best of Extreme? Perhaps, by some arguments, but the ball sure was fumbled, with this CD that fails to keep the attention from flagging.

The Best of Extreme (subtitled An Accidental Collication of Atoms?, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean) plays it straight, in a paint-by-numbers kind of way. Pretty much every song here is a single, though not many were very big singles. The thing is, like more respected bands such as King’s X (with whom they shared management), Extreme were about albums much more so than singles. First record aside, Extreme never failed to impress with a cohesive collection of jaw-dropping rock. So what happens when you take a record company suit (or a room full of them) and assign them the duty of picking a baker’s dozen of tracks for the requisite greatest hits CD? You get an accidental collication of atoms, apparently.

Opening with “Decadence Dance” was a great idea, but why leave on the rain storm and narration that opens the album version of the song? Why not use the dynamite single version? That intro makes little sense in context of a greatest hits disc. Great song, though — in fact every single song here is bonafied great! With the possible exception of “Kid Ego”, every track here was always of the utmost quality, delivering innovation and hooks. “Rest in Peace” – brilliantly produced, written and performed. “Tragic Comic” – just pure class acoustic rock as only Extreme deliver. Same with the massive hit “Hole Hearted”. “Hip Today” – still aggressive to this day. That was Extreme’s first single with Mike Mangini on drums, incidentally.

So you can’t knock the tunes, at all. It’s the crummy execution that’s the problem. The rain at the beginning of Decadence Dance is one such example. Then on “Rest in Peace”, the guitar outro that normally leads into “Politicalamity” is retained, but it ends abruptly and leads into nothing. That is sequenced into “Kid Ego” from the first album, which as an awkward transition. “Leave Me Alone” works better as a side opener.  There’s no reason behind the track listing that I can imagine. It’s not chronological, and it doesn’t flow well, especially when you hit 11 minutes of ballads right in the middle of the whole thing. The booklet is a joke, with no liner notes of any value. It’s just a slathering of images that has nothing to do with Extreme or any of their past albums.  Just lazy.  Nobody would even cop to compiling it by putting their name in the credits. The anonymous compilers are as faceless as the CD they created. The band had been broken up for a while, when Gary Cherone joined Van Halen. This was just a record company trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of a band that had little value in 1997 dollars.

There are two touches I like on The Best of Extreme. One is the “Horn Mix” of “Cupid’s Dead”. I don’t have this on any singles in my collection, so thank you, suits! (I know you included this remix just for idiots like me that would buy an entire CD just for one song. However the joke is on you. I bought it used from my own Bargain Bin.) It’s a killer remix. It should have been this way on the album. Maybe somebody said, “We can’t have too many horns! One has to go.” It’s also nice to see “Am I Ever Gonna Change” closing the CD. That “song” is actually just the middle section of “Everything Under the Sun”, the side-long epic that closed Extreme III Sides to Every Story. It was one of the more single-like moments from an album that offered few such songs. Fans have long said that it should have been a single, so it is interesting to hear it here, amputated from its parent song.

Unless you need that “Cupid’s Dead” remix, you don’t need this CD.

2/5 stars

EXTREME QUALITY CHART

Thanks to Geoff over at the 1001 Albums in 10 Years for the “Excel”lent inspiration!

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28 comments

  1. Hurrah! for Greatest Hits week, Mike. Not so hurrah for this one, though. That said, I don’t know any Extreme stuff other than More Than Words (I know! – I’ll get my coat!), so would this be a fairly decent starting point for a chap like me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No…don’t go with this.

      Although it’s far from “instant”, I think III Sides to a Story is as brilliant as it gets. Martin Popoff gave that one a high rating too…perhaps even 10/10. I know for me Extreme have 3 albums in a row which are all 5/5.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Duly noted! I shall keep an eye out for that one. I don’t exactly know why they’ve never fell onto my radar (not even so much as a faint flicker).

        Oh, and I dig the graphic!

        Like

  2. Dang! Will be interesting to see how many of these hits album I have on the shelf, thinking not many and fer sure this ain’t there LOL…

    That said, bang on review particularly in regard to Extreme being an album band and good fer them too because after ‘almost’ being pegged as a one-hit (ballad) wonder with the sickly sweet More Than Words (and classy but not too heavy Hole Hearted), they were saved by their twist on fun-metal and were then responsible for the farther reaching III Sides To Every Story, and fer that they got Best On Ground from these ears. If people haven’t listened to that one and truly ‘delved in’ they should be in for a real treat!

    So far as this hits collection goes, maybe an okay introduction to what the band were about (but where’s Cynical from Punchline? That alone woulda increased the release’s worth). But nah, ya got it right Mike, this one reeks of suits LOL.

    Fun review/read cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cynical had that little f-bomb in it! I’m sure that scared the label away.

      III Sides is brilliant. Waiting for the Punchline is brilliant. I also think very highly of Saudades de Rock.

      Like

  3. Love the 3D graph, complimentary software pun, and review – all infinitely more thoughtful than the Extreme greatest hits assembly crew here!
    This is the start of a great week, it feels like the ‘greatest hits’ collection can be done properly but is often a disaster.
    I’m curious if the 5/5 is attainable!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Geoff! A 5/5 is attainable but I won’t tell you who gets it when. You’ll just have to stay tuned! No graph tomorrow I’m afraid, but I have graphs for the rest of the week. Tomorrow’s CD did not loan itself to graphing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha! I read this whole thing twice and no mention of ‘More than words’ until J.’s comment. I’ve always had a love/hate thing with greatest hits. Interesting to see what else you’ve got for us.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly was something at the time. I liked it when it came out but preferred other songs on that album. You might be surprised to hear that I haven’t listened to them in years.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The album that track is lifted from (Waiting For The Punchline) is a much darker, grittier affair than their first 3 albums. I highly recommend you seek it out – it has some excellent tunes on it.

      Like

  5. Never seen this before so but no need for it as I had there whole studio output on cd. Suits is right Mike! No idea how a comp is to be done,like the fact that you even called them out for dicing and splicing Decadenace Dance is a no no..haha..good call out ……
    Cool read ….

    Liked by 1 person

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