Welcome to a two-fer Book Review of ‘Take it Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato. Not only am I doing a review but my friend Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock is doing one as well. So click on his name and go read his when you are done with this one. I am sure his will be better!!
A little backstory on Kiss during the Unmasked years. I was a teenager during most of this time and I discovered Kiss for myself in these years. I say that because I was introduced to Kiss in the 70’s as I had one brother in particular that was huge in to the band. He had posters and magazine pictures plastered all over his bedroom all…and I mean ALL over it. I listened to all the 70’s albums, but I was seeing it through his eyes. In 1982 with Creatures of the Night, I was now buying Kiss and loving Kiss on my own.
After the Lick It Up album came out, I finally got to see them live and I saw them live 3 times during the Unmasked years. I bought every album during this period and have them today in some form or fashion. So, needless to say, I am a huge fan of the Unmasked years so when I heard about this fantastic book by Greg Prato, I had to have a copy. And I got one as a Christmas gift. So, no more waiting, let’s review the book.
Greg’s book covers the entire era of Kiss without makeup. All the way from 1983’s ‘Lick It Up until 1997’s album ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’. And if you didn’t know, that is 12 albums mixed with Studio albums, live albums and compilation albums as well as one tribute album. And here they are…
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I was walking through an Antique Mall as my daughter had found another great place to buy used vinyl. We came to a booth that didn’t have a ton of books, but there was one book there that immediately caught my eye. It was the Gene Simmons’ autobiography called “Kiss and Make-Up”. I had not read yet, so I grabbed it. And at only $5, it was a steal.
And what did I think? It was okay. It was an easy read, but there was really nothing surprising or earth shattering. I did forget he dated Diana Ross, but I knew about Cher so no shocker. I had forgotten about some of the movies he did, but not ‘Runaway’ as I loved that one.
It was interesting to read about his childhood as it did explain a lot about who he is and why he is the way he is. Gene is definitely full of himself and you know what, that is okay. He knows it and I was worried I would like him even less after reading this, but I didn’t. I actually like a little more. I feel I understand him a little more.
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As a Guns ‘N Roses fan, this book was a no-brainer when it went on sale on Amazon. You will notice a trend on my book reviews in that I always get the books when they are on sale, dirt cheap. Best way to buy them. Slash has always been this larger than life Guitar God with his trademark black Top Hat, long curly hair covering his face and a cigarette sticking out of his mouth. And of course, that is why that picture is the cover of the book. You instantly know who it is.
The book came out in 2007 and it covers the periods of his childhood, through Guns ‘N Roses rise and fall, Slash’s Snakepit and all the way up to his band at the time Velvet Revolver. It is a journey filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. You get to see what influenced him in life and what drove him forward to succeed. I would say you get everything as he lays it all out on the table. He isn’t afraid to paint himself in a negative light either.
After reading this book, I am amazed that Slash is actually still alive. He started doing drugs, drinking and having sex at an extremely young age. His parental supervision was interesting as his parents were very artsy and lived a very bohemian lifestyle. At a young age, he was surrounded by famous people, including the late David Bowie. He started out skateboarding and eventually discovered the Guitar and then his focus changed. School was never important, but even less so when he started playing guitar.
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I have been a fan of Billy Idol since the day I heard (and saw) “White Wedding” on MTV back in the very early years of the station. The music and his image with that Elvis curling of his lip had me from day one. So, when Amazon had the book for the Kindle for $2.99 I had to get it and finally sat down and read it. The book came out in October 2014 by Simon & Schuster and obviously tells the story of his life. It is an autobiography which is why I wanted to really read it. It is straight from the man himself not someone taking stories from various sources who might have even been there.
The book covers his life from a child when they moved to the U.S. and then back to the U.K. all the way up to his last album (and my favorite Billy Idol album) released in 2014, ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’. I am actually playing it as I am writing and I will do a review of that one someday. The book covers all the bands, the sex, the drugs, the albums, the sex, the drugs, the ups & downs, the sex, the drugs and so much more. Did I mention it covers the sex and the drugs?
He freely talks about his sexual escapades and what rock & roll biography doesn’t which is why that is really the least interesting thing about the book. The drugs are typical for a rock & roll biography as well, but for this part, it is important in his life story. It was interesting to hear how messed up he was during the recording of the albums, the tours and his life in general. At times, his commentary about being high painted this very vivid image and he takes you on this stranger journey momentarily and you realize just how fucked up he really was. It is amazing he is still alive.
Continue reading “Billy Idol – “Dancing With Myself” – Book Review”
Runnin’ with the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen by Joe Layden and Noel E. Monk…now that is a mouthful for a book title. The book takes you on the journey of the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen and for some the true era of Van Halen. The story is from the point of view of their Tour Manager and later Manager Noel E. Monk.
Before we get in to it, if you want to read a much better review of the book, go see my friend Deke at his blog as it was his review that made me get this when Amazon offered on the Kindle for only $2 (or was it $3)…either way it was cheap and worth that price.
The book picks up with Noel coming in as their tour manager for the tour supporting their incredible debut album ‘Van Halen’. We don’t get any insight into the making of that album or really any album for that matter as Noel didn’t go to the studios while they were recording (or rarely ever did). We also don’t get any information on their forming or even their time with Gene Simmons which would have been nice, but again, this is not a band member telling the story and I had to get over that fact.
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I try to read at least one book a month and for July it was “Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS 1972-1975” by Ken Sharp, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley. All thanks to a Amazon running a $2.99 special for the Kindle. That is exactly how I read Paul Stanley’s autobiography for only $2.99.
As a KISS fan this was a really a no brainer to read. I knew a bunch of the stories, but not everything. As a side note, I found a way to enhance the experience of reading this book. If you have Kissology DVD series, you can watch the shows they are talking about in the book. You definitely need the 1st series which covers 1974-1977. You also need Volume 3 which contains the much talked about Queens, NY Coventry Show from December, 1973 the band’s first ever concert filmed in make up in its entirety. When you add this to your reading, it truly enhances the whole experience.
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I have had this coffee table book for at least 7-8 years. My wife knows of my love for music and she got me this book on album covers that mostly covers the 50’s to the 70’s. Thankfully, there aren’t that many words and it is mostly a picture book as that is all I can really handle.
Album artwork was really at its peak in the 70’s and the book commemorates that era with this great collection of album covers. The collection was first released in 1977 and has been updated many times since. This edition from 2008 was the newest edition at the time. They included a Preface by Peter Gabriel and an additional Foreward by John Wetton of King Crimson.
One of the coolest things about the book is it is edited by two of the masters of album artwork. First you have Storm Throgerson, the founder of the company Hipgnosis and they were famous for their album covers for Pink Floyd among others. He also does an additional Foreward.
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