Lost gems in your record bins

Music critic Greg Prato explains what you’re missing

By Justin Kreitzer

Long Island, New York-based music critic and author Greg Prato recently released a new book titled, “Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention.” Previously his writing has been featured in Rolling Stone and he has written books about Primus, Faith No More, the grunge era, ’90s metal and more.

With “Overlooked/Underappreciated,” Prato chose to scan through his vast music collection to highlight some of the albums that he thought were underrated and worthy of attention. Obviously this book and the topic of music altogether can be personal and highly subjective. Each person has their own story of how they discovered their favorite band, album or song and with each selection Prato dishes out personal stories that recall how he discovered each band or album. Sometimes he even lists the specific record store where he bought the album. He also mentions the infamous BMG Music Service and Tower Records, which should induce plenty of nostalgia for readers of a certain age. Despite Prato’s credentials as a music critic and author, his writing is actually refreshing and relatable, like a casual chat with a fellow music fan.

After reading the book myself, I noticed that many albums such as Blind Melon’s second album, Soup, were released after huge fame-making debut albums and were considered “sophomore-slumps” so they obviously fit in as “underappreciated.” Other questionable picks such as Diary from Sunny Day Real Estate and Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton are widely considered highly influential cult classics adored by critics and fans alike. Other albums that I don’t think belong on the list are Entertainment! by post-punk torch-bearers Gang Of Four, the multi-platinum Last Splash by The Breeders, The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips and the album that pretty much invented the entire “shoegaze” genre, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Prato had included albums from the Primus-affiliated band Sausage, Chicago fractured folk/grunge hybrids Red Red Meat and Graham Central Station, led by former Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham.

Additionally, Prato’s book turned me on to a few bands that I had never heard of such as the late ’60s R&B of Black Pearl and the ’70s Afro-funk of Cymande and I found myself eager to spend time with my own music collection to rediscover some of the albums that I had been neglecting.

Dayton City Paper sat down with Greg Prato to talk about his book and the selections within.

Please describe what moved you to write this book.

Greg Prato: When I sold off my entire CD collection (over 2,000 items) a few years ago, I found myself forgetting about albums and artists that I fancied—once I relied completely on an iPod. I started making a list of artists/albums as a reminder to listen to, and then realized I had the beginnings of a book if I choose to do so. I chose to do it! I also realized I could possibly be turning on others to great artists that they may not have been familiar with (The Beautiful, Brad, Truly, etc.), or lesser-known albums by artists they may own an album or two of (Blind Melon’s Soup, Faith No More’s King for a Day, Kiss’ Creatures of the Night, etc.).

So, you included the album by Right Said Fred. Explain that. I mean, there isn’t actually anything on that album that redeems “I’m Too Sexy” is there? 

GP: When I first heard “I’m Too Sexy” way back when, I couldn’t stand it … then, I became obsessed with it! So much so, that when I spotted the CD in a cut-out bin a year or two later, I knew what my next move needed to be. And there actually was a song on there that I think was a more than deserving follow-up hit (which I believe actually was a hit in most other parts of the world), titled “Deeply Dippy.” …In fact, I took my appreciation of Right Said Fred to the next level about a year ago, when I interviewed both chaps for one of the sites I write for, Songfacts…

In my opinion, several albums such as the ones you chose for Sunny Day Real Estate, Sigur Rós and My Bloody Valentine are all highly influential. This whole matter is subjective but would you please clarify your reasoning for their inclusion in the book?  

GP: There are a few albums/artists that I see your point about—I even included albums by such household names as The Rolling Stones (Goats Head Soup) and Def Leppard (High ‘n’ Dry)! It was a tough decision re: if an artist was a bit too renowned or not, but I figure if you were to stop the average person on the street and ask them about Sigur Ros, Sunny Day Real Estate or My Bloody Valentine, they wouldn’t know who the heck you were talking about. Or if you asked them about the Rolling Stones or Def Leppard, they wouldn’t name those lesser-known titles. So … why not include them, just in case?

What do you plan to write about next?

GP: I have a few projects in the planning stages, but this year alone, I have issued three books! Two were music-based (‘Iron Maiden: ’80 ’81’ and ‘Survival of the Fittest: Heavy Metal in the 1990’s’) and one was sports-based (‘The Seventh Year Stretch, New York Mets: 1977-1983’).

Greg Prato’s book “Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Record(ings That Demand Your Attention” is available now. For more information please visit amzn.com/e/B002MJ4CXI.

Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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