Interview: Author Greg Prato on ‘Overlooked/Unappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention’
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Your book Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention hits near and dear to my heart because it’s sole focus is to bring attention to albums maybe “lost” in the shuffle of music listener’s conscious whether it was just bad timing for its original release or poor sales there is something for everyone here to identify with. What made you want to write and research this book?
It all started when I began making a list of albums that I found myself going long periods of time not listening to – not because of the quality of their work, but because since I no longer own any CD’s, tapes, or records (I transferred all my music over digitally). And when you have countless albums on a digital doohickey, it’s easy to overlook albums that demand your attention. Once the list began to grow and grow, a thought popped into my head – why not put together a book of this albums?
There is a wide variety of music genre’s within the book was it difficult to narrow down the list to 354?
No, I didn’t have to narrow it down, the last actually would continue to grow the longer I worked on the book. I didn’t come up with the number “354” before working on the book, it just so happened it was the total number of albums I selected/wrote about. I could have been any random number…
I own 24 of the 354 recordings listed. Do you think I’m in the minority of too few, about average or more than usual?
It’s hard to say. Quite a lot of the artists included are indeed well known – AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Faith No More, Joan Jett, Kiss, The Pretenders, Primus, Queen, Rolling Stones, Soundgarden, Van Halen, ZZ Top, etc. But even the best-known artist has an album or two in their discography that seems to be quite underrated. That said, quite a few of the artists/albums are quite obscure (The Beautiful, Harvey Sid Fisher, Khabarta, Truly, etc.). But I stand by all of the recordings included, as I enjoy them all thoroughly.
Is your goal and hope that folks at least your readers give some of these recordings a shot and new life?
Indeed. Any attention I can give to a lot of these artists that deserve a listen is basically the whole point…besides being able to serve as a reminder to myself in the future of albums that I tend to forget about.
Was there an album or band that you didn’t think had a chance of making an impression on you but did in a big way?
Right Said Fred’s ‘Up.’ Was there a better disco song/video combo of the ’90s than “I’m Too Sexy”? I dare you to name one better.
When it comes to music I’m a staunch defender of the physical product vs. a download. I understand the quick convenience of a download for an iPod but I’d rather have a record or a cd. I love vinyl. I have to hold the whole album in my hands. Where do you stand this debate?
I totally understand why some music listeners are into the “collecting” aspect. And if I had a whole section of my house that I could store and display all my collected musical artifacts, I would perhaps take the plunge myself. But I don’t…so I can’t! Personally speaking, I always preferred CD over vinyl – the pops, hiss, and skips of vinyl used to drive me up a wall.
When I followed a band as a kid growing up (pre internet) I used to have to rely solely on magazines for release dates of new albums. Circus, Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Kerrang! Do you think that today’s youth with the multitude of technology advances and distractions (A) Care the same about bands they way I did or we did? (B) Would just assume prefer to download a song or two from various artists and not an entire album/band?
Again, that’s hard to say. It seems like there are a handful of artists that subsequent generations discover and enjoy (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, etc.), so it doesn’t matter how they discover them, they always seem to find a way to. I know that if I had a lot of the technological advances at my fingertips when I as a teen, a would have discovered a lot more artists sooner, and given more a chance. Keep in mind, back in the pre-Internet “dark ages,” you often had to purchase an album solely on recommendation or review – without hearing a note of the music. I wasted quite a bit of dough on stinky recordings that I wound up not caring for…after it was too late.
Random question: How many concerts do you think you have attended in your life time? Do you have a personal favorite band and album?
Hmmm…100? 150? 200? Keep in mind, besides seeing major bands, I have seen many friends’ bands over the years, too. If I had to choose a fav band of all-time, I’ll go with Queen (never saw them live though, unfortunately), and if I had to go with one single album, I’ll go with Blind Melon’s ‘Soup.’
Although I’m a tried and true fan of the original Kiss line-up (Ace, Gene, Paul, and Peter), it was the non-make-up line-up that I saw in concert the most during my teenaged years. And while it’s the ’70s albums that I enjoy the most of Kiss, I’d have to put the ‘Creatures of the Night’ album in my top 5 Kiss albums of all-time, and a major ingredient of what made that album so special was Eric Carr’s massive, gonzo drum sound. Over the years, I’d hear drips and drabs of Eric’s story (after he tragically passed in 1991), but never got the whole, true story from a variety of different sources. So I decided to take the plunge and do a book about the life of Eric Carr, which has gotten great feedback (Eddie Trunk is a big fan of the book!).
Based on feedback from the book over the past three plus years would you say that the average fan’s perception of Eric was more or less what you described in your book or not all what you described in your book?
I discovered a lot in the book that I didn’t know about, and one criticism I seemed to read was diehard Kiss fans not being able to accept that Gene and Paul may not have handled the final months of Eric’s life the way they should have. But meanwhile in Paul’s autobiography, he even admits maybe he should have done things differently! So that only served as more proof that I was able to capture Eric’s real life story (and not some fairy tale version) in book form.
Was the family pleased with the outcome and did you have to get any final approval of its content prior to it being published?
Yes, I interviewed Eric’s sister, Loretta, for the book, and she approved of it. She has been very supportive, and was kind enough to include an advert for the book when it was released on the official Eric Carr site – ericcarr.com.
Were there friends or ex- band mates of Eric that you attempted to reach out to you that either refused to participate or never returned your phone calls or emails?
I had mutual acquaintances reach out to both Gene and Paul, but no dice.
As a long time KISS fan I was surprised then that upon Eric’s passing that a specific tribute show or a memorial concert was never performed. It would have been cool to have Peter Criss and Eric Singer rock out to Eric’s seven records in the band and pay tribute to his time in the band. Why do you think something like this was never attempted?
Hard to say. I know Kiss at that point were working already on the Revenge album, and I don’t think Gene and Paul were on best terms with Eric’s family at that point, after the events that transpired when Eric was ill (which are discussed in my book). But a tribute would have been cool. I often wonder why the band doesn’t do an official Eric Carr in make-up shirt, with the proceeds going to charity – I think that would be a very cool thing to do.
You have written several books within the music and sports worlds. Do you have a topic, a team or something you want to work on, are working on or have finished that readers can expect in the future?
Yes, on September 16, 2014, my next book, Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool, will be released via Akashic Books. Beyond that, I have some ideas that are still in the planning stage, that just wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss at this time.
Anything you’d like to say to the TheyWillRockYou.com readership?