Eddie Ciletti, former tech columnist for EQ magazine, now for MIX Magazine
Ever since I first heard BIG RED NUDE I've been buying it for my friends. From beginning to end, each song is distinct and memorable like walking through urban neighborhoods savoring the flavors of each restaurant. The album kicks off with "Beautiful Girls," a groove-tune that builds from an organ-ic mellow into a spacious verse and infectious chorus -- you may want to hear this one a few times before moving on.
Take an up-tempo trip to the islands with "I Can't Find Love" or wake up and feel a muggy southern morning, "Summer Girls" takes you there with moody music and clever lyrics. "Everywhere You Are" continues south with a sexy Brazilian flair. BIG RED NUDE is anything but predictable from sad and searching ballads like "Drifting Apart" and "Soul Down the River" to the cocky attitude of "Born With It" and "Good Looker," this is musical therapy at its best. If this "record" don't put you in a good mood then go ahead and commit suicide! (Just kidding! Call 800-don't-do-it!)
If it weren't for the consistent versatility of Greg's voice, you might think this is "just" a great compilation from an eclectic DJ or maybe a pirate radio station you hope will last the entire journey. No clunkers, no interruptions, just simple inspired production that hits the mark every time. Each song is exquisitely executed from the lyrics on up with instrumental arrangements like the savory sauce in your favorite dish, you'll be lapping the plate clean.
With a track record like Greg Prestopino's, he should need no introduction, however, on the off-chance that you need to have one, here it goes. Greg's musical career has covered much ground over the years. He has written hit songs for the likes of; Matthew Wilder ("Break My Stride"), Natalie Cole ("Wild Women Do"), Puff Daddy ("Can't Nobody Hold Me Down"), Celine Dion ("Show Some Emotion"), and Marty Balin ("What Love Is"). Greg has also had the pleasure of playing on the albums of several legends including; Bette Midler, Ry Cooder, Maria Muldaur and Jennifer Warnes. His original music and/or his distinctive voice have graced such films as; Pretty Woman, The Rose, Pocahontas, The Man With Two Brains, Money For Nothing, Boulevard Nights, The Big Picture and Greg's unique sound can also be heard through the glory of syndication on television shows like, Spencer For Hire and Fame. Greg needed one of the finest producers in the country to make this album a complete success so he decided to call on the one legend in the music business who could pull it off; Andrew Gold (musical director for Linda Ronstadt and former Electra Records artist with such memorable hits as "Lonely Boy" and "Thank You For Being A Friend").
The CD begins the journey with, "Beautiful Night", a song co-written with Matthew Wilder (who produced No Doubt's album, "Magic Kingdom"). Greg's vocals cascade like rain along the flowing lyrics and orchestrated musical production. This is truly one contemporary gem of a CD that deserves to be a commercial success. "Beautiful Night" lush, layered textures penetrating a highly defined production. "I Can't Find Love" a mixture of Phil Collin's and Dan Fogelberg sensibility all rolled up into a tasty, gourmet appetizer. "Summer Girls" "I woke up real groggy, the air so hot and soggy / I floated out the window of my room / I flew to an oasis, where gardenias turned their faces / toward the dreamers they dispatched with their perfume"......this is fine poetic literature with an orchestrated canvas of intoxicating sounds. A romantic masterpiece. "Everywhere You Are" is a lounge-inspired composition oozing with sensual tone and surreal disposition. "Drifting Apart" ....."like the dusk turns it's back to the dawn, like the singer who won't sing his natural song / like an atom in fission, well, like simple division / we're drifting apart"..........this is a generously revealed piece of musical magic.
"Heaven and Earth" the reggae/rock rhythm brings this tune into the dirty-dancing arena. Breathy vocal vulnerability and a strong, building intensity wrap around this piece like newly-found lovers on a dimly lit dance floor. "Born With It" this is attitude with the moral contradiction of blues and gospel fused together to make for one volatile and exciting mixture. Raise your hand people, this is a revival for those musically deprived spirits. "Good Looker" funky fun that brings back the taste of Three Dog Night and Billy Preston. Party on! "I Had Faith Today" strong. "Soul Down The River" moody intensity . "Beginner's Again" uplifting reverence for the optimistic thinkers of the world. A satisfying brew that quenches the thirst. "Let Love Save Me" a pop hit in the making. Filled with a solid drum beat, a contemporary sound and lots of B3 fill, this tune would be at home in a huge ampitheatre filled with hoards of appreciative music fans.
IN SUMMARY: Greg Prestopino is a true example of how far independent talent can go these days based on it's own merit. Every cut on this project is a genuine, certified original that can hold an audience spellbound. The songwriting is evidence of a brilliant mind at work, capturing the minute details and phrasings that elude even some of the best songwriters from time to time. The musicianship is supportive and layered but without being overbearing. The little nuances throughout are further proof that underplaying is sometimes the best thing a musician can do to enhance a mood or expression. The production is extremely clean but not to the point of being sterile. There's a real sense of intimacy having Greg's vocals come through with seemingly far less reverb than the instrumental tracks. The sound is panned with admirable precision that only comes with experience and keen instinct. "Big Red Nude" is a masterful piece of genuine artistry that excels your expectations and revitalizes your enthusiasm for the indie marketplace. [Independent Songwriter Web-Magazine, Spring 1998]
The fact that this album is a DIY speaks volumes about the state of affairs in popular music. A talent this big should have to pick and choose which label he wants to be on. And it's not as if they don't know who he is. Greg Prestopino has had his songs recorded by the likes of Puff Daddy, Celine Dion, Aaron Neville, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Gary Wright, Crystal Gayle and Matthew Wilder. He's also had songs featured in films such as Pretty Woman and The Rose. His vocal talent has been employed by many artists including Ry Cooder, Jennifer Warnes, Midler and Wilder. The guy was even a staff producer for Elektra / Asylum! Still, big red nude is a "do-it-yourself" production and thank God he did it. In short, it's a pop masterpiece.
Track after track, nude is a testament to just how good modern pop can be. It kicks off with the gorgeous "Beautiful Night" and never looks back. Stylistically, he varies from the bossa nova sway of "Everywhere You Are" and the reggae-influenced "heaven and Earth", to the white boy hip-hop of "Born With It". "Good Looker" mixes that same hip-hop beat with some boogie piano. And Prestopino has a falsetto to die for.
It's hard to pick a favorite but "I Had Faith Today" might be the killer of the bunch as he rails against "talk show zeros" and school yard criminals. There's really not a clinker in the bunch. That alone makes big red nude worth checking out. [Performing Songwriter Magazine, January/February 1998]