20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Extreme

by: Extreme

There is a full-priced, 13-track Extreme compilation released overseas under the title An Accidental Collision of Atoms and in the U.S. as An Accidental Collocation of Atoms (wordplay always being a favorite pastime of the band); this edition of Universal's 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection series of midline-priced best-ofs offers a similar selection, but it shaves off three lesser-known album tracks and re-sequences the remaining ten, leaving all nine of the recordings Extreme placed in Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart between 1989 and 1995, including, of course, its top five Hot 100 hits "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted." You get a good sense of this well-named group from the selection; it was a band that went to extremes, whether pursuing heavy metal in songs like "Kid Ego" or acoustic balladry in "More Than Words," waxing political in "Rest in Peace" or adopting a Beatles-like prog rock complexity in "Stop the World." Ultimately, those extremes may have been more than a mass audience or even a cult audience was willing to bear. After earning a hard rock following early on, the band broke big with its soft hit singles, which alienated its original fans, then tried to return to them by playing hard again, which only succeeded in eliminating the ballad fans; the albums went from selling double-platinum in 1991 to falling off the charts after a month four years later. The group's stylistic diversity is well-represented in its most popular material, and that's what is found here. But the listener is still going to have to have equally broad taste to enjoy it all. ~ William Ruhlmann

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