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Excellent latest album from Green on Red guitarist Chuck Prophet, upon which he pays tribute to his adopted city of San Francisco
I have been watching Chuck Prophet live since his Green on Red days and since I first saw them at the Electric Ballroom in 1985. He first went solo in 1990 with ‘Brother Aldo’ on Fire Records while Green on Red were still a force to reckon with. He has now got to a point where he has released more solo albums then he did with his former band.
‘Temple Beautiful’ is an album in praise of San Francisco, the city that he chose to be home some thirty years ago. He now spends about half the year there and the rest on the road. A lot of the album was co-written with local poet Kurt Lipschutz, whom also wrote some of the tracks on his first solo album.
‘Play That Song Again’ opens the album, and it is not so much a song as an invitation to a party. It is a rocker that puts you in a Friday night mood, and is a fine decent mix of rhythm and blues backed by some new wave touches.
‘Castro Halloween’ sees Chuck, as I see him, as a masterful story teller armed with his trusty telecaster Fender. This tale has the scope of widescreen, and is beautifully coloured in the correct places with a soundtrack to match.
The title track has a 70’s swagger, and, again with a hearty party feel, is a song to get you up on your feet and dancing. ‘Museum of Broken Hearts’ is a lost lament for the golden city, and is so beautiful that it could easily be placed on an early solo Scott Walker album.
‘Willie Mays is Up at Bat’ is again cinematic, almost like Lee Hazlewood in its scope, and will again have you bopping away, while ‘The Left Hand and the Right Hand’ has jangly guitar beats that will also get you wiggling your feet and nodding your head.
‘I Felt Like Jesus’ sounds like decent Dylan, who Chuck would like to work with, backed by the latter era Byrds, and has the charm of Gram Parsons. ‘Who Shot John?’ is not so much a song, but a film in the making. The lyrics are lyrical paintings and you are the enjoying voyeur. The flicking images melt into your imagination just so perfectly.
‘He Came From So Far Away (Red Man Speaks)’ is a true rider of a song in which they lyrics are like poetry. ‘Little Girl, Little Boy’ is a duet between Chuck Prophet and his wife Stephanie Finch, backed by a pub rock like beat, and brass and funky piano to add to its knees up feel.
‘White Night, Big City’ has a 1970’s feel with soulful backing vocals. The song stretches for miles, while the guitar lines are killers like he delivered for Green on Red. ‘Emperor Norton In the Last Year of His Life (1880)’ is a slow burner to end the album on, a true blues number. sad and heartfelt and in Chuck's hands killer of a tune.
For me an absolutely great album.
Play That Song Again
Museum Of Broken Hearts
Willie Mays Is Up At Bat
The Left Hand And The Right Hand
I Felt Like Jesus
Who Shot John
He Came From So Far Away (Red Man Speaks)
Little Girl, Little Boy
White Night, Big City
Emperor Norton In The Last Year Of His Life (1880)