- Paperback: 202 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 22, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1503260755
- ISBN-13: 978-1503260757
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,570,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #506 in Punk Music (Books)
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Punk! Hardcore! Reggae! PMA! Bad Brains! Paperback – November 22, 2014
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"Prato combines biography with his trademark oral narrative approach in producing a book that answers all the questions and along the way leaves you glued to your chair with pages filled with creative and thought-provoking prose." [4 out of 5 stars] --Steven Rosen, Curled Up
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About the Author
Greg Prato is a Long Island, New York-based journalist, who has written for Rolling Stone, and has authored such books as 'Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music,' 'The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion,' 'Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets,' and 'MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video.' 'Punk! Hardcore! Reggae! PMA! Bad Brains!' is his fourteenth book overall.
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One is there being a Bad Brains book in the first place. As you should be well aware, they are one hell of an influential band, that has recorded some outstanding albums (“I Against I”!). But beyond the music itself and the occasional anecdote (HR recording the vocals for “Sacred Love” from prison after smoking a page of the Bible – now that's a story that's in a league of its own in terms of badassery!), the Bad Brains' story is a terra incognita even for the more informed rock fans. So, kudos to Prado for filling that gap.
And then the other reason – the book really is insightful. It answers what is probably the most important question there is – Why? Why are the Bad Brains so influential? Prato does a good job at answering this by following their story and inserting testimonies by musicians who have been influenced by the Bad Brains and then become legends in their own right. And then the book also does answer the other big why – why didn't the Bad Brains manage to become huge along with the alternative rock scene they helped spawn when it blew up in the early 90s? Turmoil within the band's ranks is only part of the answer, but I'll advise to go read the book instead of just this review to get the whole picture.
Add Prato's recollections of disappointing encounters with the band and confusingly bad live performances he had attended, the book is also quite honest. It doesn't try to glorify the Bad Brains, but instead presents them for what they are. And I don't know about you, but it was exactly the sense of honestly that drew me to hardcore-punk in the first place.
It also has the worst attempt at an equipment list that the band used section. What is described is a pretty meagre attempt at identifying Dr Know and Darryl's guitars and is pretty much limited to descriptions of the instruments used on videos with a comment about their current amps. No mention of Earl's drum set up at all. Why not just ask the band members if they wanted to provide the information? This isn’t a major gripe, but why bother padding a book with this sort of stuff when anyone can get the same info from watching a few clips online?
I really enjoyed Prato's book on the Meat Puppets 'Too High to Die'. I thought it was a really interesting way of telling a story, just using transcribed interviews from people who were there. With this BB book it is like the history wasn't long enough so it is has been intentionally doubled in length to justify the price. I got to 51% through the book and the history of the band ended. I figured that there had to be more, but as I said the second half the book is pretty much just verbatim responses from a bunch of people. It doesn't make BB's any more valid or confirm their importance. It is really only of interest if you like the band the interviewees are from. I love Soundgarden but even the Kim Thayil interviews parts couldn't hold my attention.
In this case I'd say forget the book, see the movie.