Spoke with Dennis Dunaway for a couple hours last evening, another great experience on the road to Detroit Rock City.
We talked a lot about Detroit and the band’s farm in Pontiac, hitting big with ‘Eighteen’ while living there, and the Eastown Theater, where the band played so many times on the way to the Big Time.
Dunaway said the pop direction of the band, if Love It To Death can be called that, was not the way he wantd to go.
“Pretties for You was the direction I wanted the band to go in,” he said. “It was more abstract. And I was also liking things like ‘Lay Down and Die, Goodbye.’ But there were ten people who got it and thankfully, Zappa was one of them. I think nine more were the GTOs. So we made that decision to do more relatable material, then then have something to bring people so they can hear our artistic stuff. Easy Action was headed in the direction of Love it To Death, but we only had a third of the material ready for Easy Action when we got called to the studio for a contractual obligation. If we had had the proper rehearsal time, Easy Action would have been closer to Love It To Death. Of course, we didn’t have [producer] Bob Ezrin, so it wouldn’t have been all the way.”
Ezrin came in to handle a four-song Warner Bros. demo of which three songs ended up on Love It To Death and one more, “You Drive Me Nervous,” was on Killer, which remains Dunaway’s favorite Cooper lp.
“My heart is with Pretties for You because I thought it was our most unique artistic statement. Killer was done at a time when we walked into the studio and knew people would be listening. We were getting there, and Love It To Death was the lp that, if it didn’t sell, would have been our third strike. We knew we wouldn’t get another chance. But Rosalie Trombley at CKLW played ‘Eighteen’ and put us on the map. And we went in for Killer feeling our oats.’
As for the band leaving Detroit as soon as fame struck?
“Didn’t make a lot of sense to me, “ he said. The band’s management as in NYC, and the band bought a place in suburban Connecticut, the thought being that it could reduce the phone bills, which were a substantial consideration in the 70s. “But we ended up on the road all the time anyway.”
It was Detroit’s loss. But there was still so much remaining.