Get the Funk Out by Extreme – Songs in the Key of Mutiny
“Get the Funk Out” by Extreme is an example of a song that I always liked but never really deeply loved, except for one version of it that they did on the “Waiting For the Punchline” tour, where Nuno Bettencourt, the guitarist, played the verse part differently (essentially, he played part of the chorus riff in the verses). It’s a very subtle difference to the original, but the result, to my ear, gives the song a lot more muscle and swagger. I believe I’m in the minority in preferring that version of the song because even among Extreme fans, I don’t hear much talk about it even on the few occasions when I’ve brought it up.
I once had the opportunity to talk to Pat Badger, Extreme’s bass player. I asked him about why they played “Funk” a bit differently at that time. If I remember correctly, he said they’d been “fooling around with it” in rehearsals and that once they came upon that arrangement, they kind of liked it and decided to to perform the song that way on the tour.
Here’s how the verse riff usually sounds (the video will start at that part of the song): Get the Funk Out, Live in 2008 (Video)
Here’s an example of the version I’m referring to, from Nuno’s solo band, Dramagods: Get the Funk Out: Nuno Bettencourt with Dramagods (Video)
High-quality audio and video of band performing in 1995 is tough to find. Here’s one example of a fan-shot live recording of how Extreme performed “Get the Funk Out” on the “Waiting For the Punchline” tour back in 1995.
Nuno has recently said that if he had to give somebody one song to show what Extreme was all about, he would give them Get the Funk Out. That’d be a tough choice, because they’re such an eclectic band. But perhaps that’s why they’ve gone back to performing it in its original form.
The way they played the song back around 1995, on their final tour before breaking up for a while, was by far – for me – the best version of the song. They would open the set for the night with the rip-snorting track, “Warheads” (from the epic 1992 album “III Sides to Every Story”) and would then crash directly into Get the Funk Out, which previously had been saved to always be one of the last songs played at any of their concerts. Perhaps it was because of the era the band was in, where groups like Extreme were being buried by the Seattle grunge movement. Or maybe it was due to the frustration of not being able to sustain the momentum they achieved with the “Pornograffitti” CD, or that drummer Mike Mangini had come on board for that tour and super-charged the whole set with his unique brand of percussive mayhem. For whatever reason, their performances on that tour were laced with frustration and aggression. They sounded angry and that gave some of the songs an edge, and I believe Get the Funk Out was the best example of that.
Studio Track vs. Live Performance
I’m the kind of guy that almost always prefers a live version of a song over the studio cut. My oldest son, who likes a lot of the same music as me, is the opposite in this respect. He doesn’t like it when a band sounds a whole lot different live when they do from the album, whereas I would rather have a recording of a song that is infused with the raw energy and emotion that can only be achieved while performing in front of a group of people, as opposed to the polished and perfect result of a process that comes from being in the studio for months at a time. Get the Funk Out is one of the best examples of this for me.
At the time of this writing, Extreme has just returned with the release of “Pornograffitti Live.” The version of Get the Funk Out in that set is the most enjoyable live version of the song I’ve heard when performed true to the studio cut. You can hear/see it by clicking here. For the Las Vegas show (recorded in May of 2015 for “Pornograffitti Live”), the energy with which they perform exceeds any other time that I can remember hearing the studio version of the song. And the sound quality is terrific. It’s a gem.
Missing Piece: The Vocal Mashup
Despite all that, there is one part that they’ve left out of both versions I’ve referred to here. It’s a piece near the end of the song where they do vocal arrangement that infuses parts of many of the other songs from the “Pornograffitti” album and references one or two from the first record as well. You can hear it, although just barely, on the record if you really listen for it, and the lyrics of that part are in the liner notes for the actual CD.
To see it, click here or jump to the 4:55 mark of this video:
I was in Las Vegas and at the show that they recorded to be released for a the DVD. I really thought (hoped) they’d put that part into the performance for “Pornograffitti Live.” They didn’t, but if you listen closely, you can hear that Nuno was thinking about it, as he sings “Dancing to the Decadent Dance” at the time where that would have been, had they put that vocal breakdown in it.
Am I over-thinking this? Absolutely. But it’s fun.
For me, the ultimate version of Get the Funk Out would be one where Nuno plays the chorus parts in the verse like he did back in 1995, and it would also include that vocal mash-up near the end of the song. That would be the ideal, and if they won’t do it again, I guess I will have to.
What the Song Really Means to Me: Be Yourself
Otherwise, as life has gone on, I’ve come to appreciate the song as a sort of anthem for self-love, being true to yourself and brave enough to go against the trends. It would be easy to look at the song as a really aggressive, almost provoking kind of song, and maybe it is, but for me it is more of a declaration of being true to yourself and allowing yourself to move on with a path that is true to you even if someone else sees it differently or doesn’t want to support you.
In other words, the song says this to me: “I’m going to treat you fairly and will have compassion and empathy that you need to go about whatever way you feel is right for you, but in the meantime, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. And you can stand in judgment of that if you like, but I am moving ahead anyway. I’m not going to let your negativity slow me down. I’ve got one life to live, and I’m going to live it so that I can look back with no regrets when my time finally comes.”
Or, “If you don’t like what you see here,” as Gary Cherone sings, “Nobody wants to take you prisoner.”
For all those reasons, Get the Funk Out by Extreme most definitely has to be considered one of my Songs in the Key of Mutiny.
Like Extreme? I can’t imagine you’d have read this far if you didn’t! Either way, you can grab a copy the of “Pornograffitti Live 25” concert here: