Prato, Greg -Take It Off – Kiss Truly Unmasked (Book review)

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Take It Off-Kiss Truly Unmasked (Book review)
Published: 2019, Jawbone Press
Reviewed: October, 2019
Reviewer: JP
Rating: 4.5/5

I know it’s not competition but Greg Prato seems to be intent on catching up with Martin Popoff as title-holder of most books written about Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.  Prato has written, what must be a couple dozen books about music and his latest offering is TAKE IT OFF-KISS TRULY UNMASKED.

Another fine Jawbone title, Prato has tackled the mildly controversial (or at least debated) era of kiss, the unmasked era. Alluding to a phrase by Prato in his own book, you don’t have to be Dick Tracy to figure out the topic of this book!  Off the top, I love the title and cover art containing at least three Kiss references  (an album title, a song title, and album art) showing that he knows his stuff!   Prato brings along some friends in the form of Eddie Trunk who contributes an appendix and Chris Jericho who writes the Foreword.

As with many of his titles Prato mines his extensive archives of interviews and brings forth many, many folks who have a thing or three to say about the era of KISS when they decided to take it off, namely 1983-1997. The list of people involved who provide quotes, stories and insight is a whose who of rock royalty as well as a huge number of industry dudes who were actually there, song-writers (Jean Beauvior, Mitch Weissman) a video director, (Paul Rachman), record producers (Ron Nevison, Toby Wright) and more.  Bruce Kulick has significant insight into that era and contributes heavily as does Eddie Trunk and Curt Gooch, the founder of the Kiss conventions.

TAKE IT OFF is incredibly detailed. It goes beyond ‘just’ the seven albums.    The live album is covered, the acoustic album is covered, the Greatest Hits album is covered, the tribute album is covered and the CREATURES OF THE NIGHT reissue is covered, all in loving detail.   Not only that, there are tons of extra segments from that time-frame. For example there is a detailed movie-by-movie analysis of Gene’s acting career, and a section his career as a producer of artists such as Black and Blue, Doro, Keel, and more.  Martin Popoff provides a look at Kiss competition in the 80’s, who they were up against.  There are interviews and discussions with people like Charlie Benante and Julian Gill and other Kiss freaks.

No stone is left unturned, home videos, tours, merchandise, side-projects, the impact of Eric Carr and guest appearances all get lovingly dissected and not always in the most flattering light either.  This is not just a book of praise, the band take their lumps for some of the decisions the band made, lyrically, sonically and visually. I’ll go on the record and say CRAZY NIGHTS isn’t as bad as everyone seems to think it is, and that CARNIVAL OF SOULS is as bad as everyone says it is. This is the most detailed and authoritative book I’ve ever read on this era, which often gets glossed over (pun intended) in favour of the make-up era. TAKE IT OFF is required reading for every member of the Kiss Army.  I think if every member of the Kiss Army bought a hard copy, Prato could quite comfortable for a while!

Speaking of Prato, the prolific author is such a mystery to me. He is such a great writer and such a cool dude, so insightful and wise and funny but it boggles my mind how he can write a masterwork like TAKE IT OFF and still listens to and writes books about unmitigated crap like Soundgarden. Will wonders never cease?

On a slightly more serious note, Prato’s new book DARK BLACK AND BLUE-THE SOUNDGARDEN STORY is now also available.  It doesn’t fit our mandate here at but being a fan of Greg’s style, I’ll gladly say that, if you like Soundgarden, I’m sure it will be excellent too.  Buy both!

Technical Details

Format Reviewed: Paperback

Publisher: Jawbone Press

Pages: 288