It’s been ten years since Gary Cherone had the Toughest Job In Rock as Van Halen’s third singer, having to replace both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. Since then, Cherone has kept busy with various projects and is at the top of his vocal and lyrical game. After a brief reunion with his original band, Extreme, in 2006, and a tribute concert in 2007 for late Boston vocalist, Brad Delp, Cherone and his old band seriously thought about about making some new music together.
It’s been almost 13 years since Extreme has released a new album of material and, with various detours and projects under their belts, the seasoned Boston-based band has reformed and knocked it out of Fenway Park with Saudades de Rock (pronounced “sow-dodge”). We’ve heard the entire album and it’s full of good ol’ ass-kicking rock ‘n’ roll. We recommend that Van Halen fans pick it up.
The iconic rock foursome — vocalist Gary Cherone, guitarist Nuno Bettencourt (who’s one of the most underrated guitar gods), bassist Pat Badger and new drummer Kevin Figueiredo — recorded their fifth studio offering at NRG Studios in Los Angeles with Bettencourt at the helm as producer and mixer. The album boasts 13 tracks and clocks in at just over an hour. Official release date is August 12th.
Coming off of his Drama Gods project as well as a brief stint with Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party, Nuno Bettencourt is in command with his robust and funky-rock guitar virtuosity and sounds as fresh as ever. The riff in opening track “Star”, illustrates this in spades.
Signature sounding funk jams such as “Comfortably Dumb”, “Run” and “Learn to Love” are raw and energized with Pat Badger’s driving bass as well as showcasing Extreme new-comer Kevin Figueiredo on the skins. Flavored throughout are the signature harmonies which Extreme does tastefully, but not to excess.
Other notable standouts include the Coldplay-ish “Ghost” featuring Bettencourt on a haunting piano as well as “Last Hour” which shows Cherone’s range with a roaring crescendo that is almost reminiscent of his appearance on the Van Halen III track, “Year to a Day”. There’s even the rollicking hoe-down “Take Us Alive” showing off Bettencourt’s rockabilly, chicken pickin’ chops.
“‘Saudades’ was always a beautiful word to me,” Bettencourt explains about the Portuguese album moniker. “It expresses a longing; an underlying sadness for something or someone that’s been missing in your life, and never quite sure if it will ever return. In this case, for us, it’s rock and roll. Saudades de Rock.”
Gary Cherone adds, “I like how it expresses that longing we’ve been feeling to play for our fans and be together again.”
For a versatile rock ‘n’ roll band which unfortunately has been pigeon-holed by their smash acoustic ballad “More Than Words” (see Mike Myers’ hilarious version from “Love Guru”), this brilliant new album is sure to dispel any preconceived notions of what the band has to offer and will perhaps garner a newfound respect which has not exactly been as forthcoming in the past.
Gary Cherone’s official website (includes Van Halen 1998 photo gallery)