The unsung hero or the black sheep of the family? One thing's for sure, HENRY SMALL of PRISM fame is undoubtedly one of the most underrated AOR singer/musicians of his time and genre. His superb contribution to the albums "Small Change" (1981) and "Beat Street" (1983), has unfortunately ended up in the shadows of the Prism/Ron Tabak debate. The biggest problem was that Small joined Prism as they left the old 70's Pomp behind, and entered a more, catchy, melodic, era (the 80's). 'Small Change' featured their first top-40 USA single and 'Beat Street' had tons of catchy AOR tunes and session musicians such as Richie Zito, Mike Baird, Alan Pasque, Bill Champlin, Bobby Kimball, Tommy B Schmidt, etc. The latter album was never accepted as a real Prism album in Canada, since Henry was the only member of the band at the time. Check out what HENRY SMALL told us about this AOR treasure and much more...
U- Hello H! What are you up to right now? You work mostly as a producer in your own studio, and you've been recording a couple of CD's yourself lately?
Henry: Currently I'm in the bathroom thinking about my secretary and wishing I was 20 years younger. Yes, I love working with younger people, some of them even listen to what I have to say. I recorded a couple of albums over the past few years. More as studio exercises than actual product to sell.
U- How would you describe the sound and style of your CD's, and where can people easily get hold of them?
Henry: The first one was more in the 80's rock vein, the second was more easy listening rock. Mostly because I couldn't find a drummer (small town) and we did it all with loops. I think the songs are great and that album is called "Time" and you can find it at: www.cdbaby.com/henrysmall or you can find it at: www.smallworldstudios.com
U- Traveling back in time and space, you first appeared in Scrubbaloe Caine with guitarist Paul Dean (Loverboy) and later, Small Wonder. Did you manage to make any $$$ back then, or do you consider those years as your days of "learning the trade"?
Henry: Money? You're a funny guy... Those years in the Canadian industry didn't make alot of money for anyone with the exception of maybe Burton Cummings and The Guess Who. I Learned more in those years than the years afterwards. Those bands were my foundation.
U- So... how did you end up as the new Prism vocalist back in late 1980/early 1981?
Henry: I was recommended by Paul Dean of Loverboy to Bruce Allen the manager and they basically made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
U- Your first release (Small Change - 1981) became Prism's break-through album in the states with the first top-40 single (Don't Let Him Know). Yet the album kind of stalled on the charts back at home in Canada. Why do you think this happened? old fans didn't appreciate the "commercial" approach with darn catchy AOR material?
Henry: Right On!!! PRISM had a very devoted and loyal following in Canada and when I arrived the record company producer John Carter wanted to turn it it into a corporate rock commercial band... which didn't go well with the Canadian fans.
U- Did you find it difficult to be accepted among old Prism and Ron Tabak fans?
U- Perhaps you could, once and for all, clear out the facts from all the b.s. about the "Beat Street" album (1983). You and the manager decided to get rid of all the other geezers and went on to record "Beat Street" Or... the other members had already left and you continued using the Prism moniker? How did all this happen?
Henry: The original members had already left by the time the 'Beat Street' album was being recorded. Bruce Allen (manager) owned the name and a new band was built around me. Again, I never had the legal rights, that was the property of Bruce Allen. For some reason, I was blamed for stealing the name which is humorous because some of the original members still tour under the original name Prism.
U- "Beat Street" is without a question a top-notch 80's AOR album with killer songs from start to finish. How come the management decided to pull back all promotion of the album? Did this have anything to do with the Prism name and people not taking kindly to this in Canada?
Henry: No. Bruce Allen had a falling out with the president of EMI at the time, over Tom Cochrane and suddenly the 'Beat Street' album, which at that point had been charting all over the east coast of the USA, was basically pulled by Capitol Records. I had put together a great touring band but Bruce called and said the tour was off and soon after Prism was dropped from the label. That was heartbreaking but not unusual in the business.
U- Looking back, do you regret anything you did during the "Beat Street" days?
Henry: I regret not wearing a condom :)
U- Talking about some of the tracks from this great AOR album. Any chance that you and Richie Zito listened to "Hot Blooded" prior to co-writing "Blue Collar" ;-)) There's something in the verse that I find quite similar to Foreigner (the chorus part is completely different though).
Henry: If there is, I don't think it was conscious... for that matter, in those days, we were never conscious...
U- What about that scream on "Nightmare", you were unable to talk for a week afterwards?
Henry: That's bullshit, I still can't talk!
U- Tell us something about "Dirty Mind", that we wish you never told us. I believe there's a line that goes "I love your hair and I love your feet???"
Henry: I love your "Head" and I love your feet... and that was one of my favourite tracks... I still had sexual urges then.
U- Did you have any personal relationship to the lyrics of "Is He Better Than Me"? :-)
Henry: I am five foot four, and they call me needledickthebugfucker... what do you think?
U- Can you still relete to those songs or have you turned your back to the 80's? (no, we're not ashamed of being major fans of the 80's here at RockUnited.com)
Henry: Of course, it's part of my life... some of which I remember...
U- How come you never included superb tracks such as "Don't Count Me Out" and "Breakin' Away" on the "Beat Street" release? (both songs can be found on compilations with rare Prism material). Definitely a mistake in my opinion as both are killer songs with major radio and hit potential.
Henry: I agree, but you must realize at least at that time, the record company made those decisions, it had nothing to do with us.
U- So... do people in Canada (still) think of you as the man that ruined Prism? ;-)
Henry: Yes and No, old fans maybe, new fans, no.
U- What about the other Prism musicians. Did you ever sit down together to talk about those ehem, "strange" days?
Henry: Ya, just recorded some songs with Lindsey Mitchel (Prism guitarist) and Al Harlow (bassist). We get along as well as we always did. If you want to hear those recordings I'm happy to send them to you.
U- That'd be great! by the way, Richie Zito's brand new AOR project (Avalon -2006), features 4 songs from "Beat Street". "Blue Collar, "I Don't Want To Want You Anymore", "Is He Better Than Me", "Nightmare". Have you heard them?
Henry: No I haven't heard them... but I hope they send me a cheque.... my daughter wants to be a doctor.
U- Thanks for everything, if there's anything you'd like to say, add or promote, please do:
Interview by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,