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Blake Maddux interviews singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet

Blake Maddux interviews singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet

Blake Maddux interviews singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, who is also known for performing with Green on Red in the 80's and early 90's.

As a musician, Bobby Fuller clearly aspired to be like Buddy Holly.

Sadly, the realization of that aspiration included Fuller's death at 23 years old, the same age at which Holly had perished in a plane crash seven years earlier.

The circumstances surrounding Fuller's death remain a mystery 61 years later. Although authorities ruled it a suicide at the time, no one who is being perfectly honest ever believed that was what actually happened.

It was the music and life of Bobby Fuller that provided the inspiration for San Francisco singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet's new album, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins. In a recent phone interview, Prophet described Fuller's truncated time on Earth as a "feel-bad...rock 'n' roll Babylon story" that is "definitely California noir."

Other homages on the album include ones that are obvious by their titles ("If I Was Connie Britton," "Alex Nieto") and others that the songs themselves make clear ("Bad Year for Rock and Roll," "In the Mausoleum").

The Boston-area stop of Prophet's current tour is at Cambridge's Lizard Lounge (9:00, $20 at the door), where he will be performing tonight with a string quartet. As he put it in my conversation with him that continues below, "It's not going to be particularly loud rock 'n' roll."

How did "Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins" become the title of and lead-off track on your new album?

That song was written while there was a Bobby Fuller record on the turntable. And I turned to my friend [Kurt Lipschutz] and I said, "Do you hear the record crackle and the needle skips and jumps? I never saw a movie that moved me half as much." And he said, "Bobby Fuller died for your sins." And we were off and running.

Did you write "Bad Year for Rock and Roll" in the immediate wake of David Bowie's death, or did it come about during the process of writing songs for the album?

Well I mean, whenever somebody dies, you know, like David Bowie, their music is in the air.

Although the song "Bad Year for Rock 'n' Roll," you could say it's about losing the musical heroes that we lost in 2016 when the record was written, but it's also about losing any faith or losing any illusion we may have had about democracy in this country as well. I think the election year is embedded in the DNA of the whole record, really. It's about losing faith and getting it back. We live in a time of cultural exhaustion. People are exhausted. They're tired of movies, they're tired of music. I'm not. (laughs) I'm still out there playing in a five-piece band, driving around in a Ford Econoline. We're playing sit-down clubs and we're playing a lot of clubs where people crowd into rooms with a sticky black floor, you know?

Is the song "We Got Up and Played" about a specific gig or just the experience of being on the road in general?

I wrote that on a rainy Wednesday night in Cleveland, Ohio, in the fall, I think, when the days were getting shorter. I don't know if you've ever loaded-in to an empty club in Cleveland, Ohio, on a rainy Wednesday, but, you know, it's kind of sad.

How would you describe, in a word or short phrase, the following people with whom you have worked?

Jonathan Richman.

What I would say about Jonathan Richman is "WWJD—What would Jonathan do?" Jonathan is fearless, in a word. And he seems like the kind of guy—if he put his mind to it—who could take on a football team.

Peter Wolf

Peter Wolf has more rock and roll in his pinky .. [recording unclear]

Warren Zevon.

Wicked, really. He's trouble waiting to happen.

Lucinda Williams.

Brilliant and generous.

You grew up in Whittier, CA, where Richard Nixon's family moved when he was a boy. Do you have any memories of living there when he was president?

I always found Richard Nixon very fascinating, on a personal level. My fourth grade class took a trip to Richard Nixon's first law office in La Habra, California. As a tiny child, I do remember walking along the San Clemente Beach with my sister when he was in office. And I remember a secret service guy on the sand telling us we couldn't go any further. Right there at his mansion on the beach at San Clemente.

Have you ever noticed any fans who show up to gigs every time you play specific towns or who come to more than one when you tour?

We've had a woman on this last tour that started in Toronto, and then she came to Pittsburgh, and she came to New York, and then we saw her in the Northwest—in Portland and Seattle—and she recently attended a show in Salt Lake and Denver. I noticed her down in front, so I asked her how many shows she'd been to. She rattled off how many shows she'd gone to, so we presented her with a commemorative roll of duct tape. We presented it to her on stage to show our appreciation for her support, and to give her something that could come in handy down the line based on the amount of travelling she's done to get from show to show.

Then I'll be sure to let my friends know, if the frequently go to your shows, to make sure you notice them. Maybe they will get something practical out of it.

Yeah it's possible. We like to give back.

by Blake Maddux on December 1, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under

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Prophet has created a masterpiece that will raise questions and get people thinking now and much into the future.
****

SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: CHUCK PROPHET – BOBBY FULLER DIED FOR YOUR SINS

It looks like Chuck Prophet has done it again

It looks like Chuck Prophet has done it again with another spectacular album to add to his collection. With his most recent album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, Prophet proves that 25 years after going solo, he continues to be one of the best singer/songwriters in the game. The album gives off a Tom Petty meets a heavy Dire Straits vibe which makes it easy to stomp your feet to the beat. Being recorded through analog, not digitally, takes you back to the times of classic rock. This album was greatly inspired by the mysterious death of Bobby Fuller and the impact he had on rock and roll and it also includes nods to David Bowie and San Francisco security guard, Alex Nieto who the world sadly lost in 2016. Prophet pays tribute to the legends we lost with 'Bad Year for Rock and Roll', touching on how the loss has taken a toll on the world and music. Harmonica, woodwinds and his wife Stephanie Finch on back up vocals, this album packs a punch that will leave you wanting more especially with its raw sound and soft rock taste. Using curious, angry, and sincere lyrics, Prophet has created a masterpiece that will raise questions and get people thinking now and much into the future. When the CD is done, you will be wondering why we don't have more people like Chuck Prophet in the industry.

[ LINK ]

by Jules Brown on April 24, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

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Prophet can be, by turns, both snarky and sardonic, qualities the aforementioned forebears know all too well.

CHUCK PROPHET – Night Surfer

Blurt

It's little surprise to find Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, David Bowie and Elvis Costello playing the part of would-be role models. After all, there are few albums released over the past several decades that don't find at least one of those icons sharing their sound. However, it's somewhat rare when all those influences mesh together or completely coincide.

It's not that Chuck Prophet needs any guideposts to find his way; indeed, after 30 years – five with seminal psychedelic band Green On Red, the remainder on his own – he clearly commands his own signature style. Still, there's no denying the influences that abound here, as strung through the ricochet rhythms of "Countrified Inner City Technological Man," the robust rocker "They Don't Know About Me and You," the kinetic strum of "Ford Econoline," and the relentless tempo igniting "Felony Glamour."

Likewise, there's no avoiding the inevitable comparisons that pop up in practically every song, often turning Night Surfer into a game of name that nuance. Prophet can be, by turns, both snarky and sardonic, qualities the aforementioned forebears know all too well. Happily though, he himself is no slacker, especially when it comes to both sentiment and sarcasm. And in many ways, that makes him every bit their equal.

DOWNLOAD: "Countrified Inner City Technological Man," "They Don't Know About Me and You," "Ford Econoline"

[ LINK ]

by LEE ZIMMERMAN on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under (Night Surfer)

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Chuck is from a bygone era, not that he’s old fashioned, it’s just that he makes music for records, where the physical pleasure of holding something in your hand is still the be-all and end-all for those of us still spin those large pieces of plastic, and

It’s Psychedelic Baby

Chuck Prophet - Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins (2017) review

[laughing] Straight from the get-go, I'm sitting here looking at the album cover wondering if this is a good picture "of" Chuck Prophet, or a good picture "for" Chuck Prophet ... either way, it slapped a mile wide smile across my face, as did the album.

If you've never seen Chuck and his band live, you should, because he splinters the floorboards at small venues all across this country, rocking you back like it matters ... and believe me, it does. Chuck is from a bygone era, not that he's old fashioned, it's just that he makes music for records, where the physical pleasure of holding something in your hand is still the be-all and end-all for those of us still spin those large pieces of plastic, and scan liner notes that we can actually read. But you didn't come here for a musical history lesson, so let me take you where you need to be.

Each time Chuck Prophet releases an album I think that it's been far too long since his last one, and here, with a bold title like Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, if he doesn't pull out all of the stops, he's gonna go down in flames. But don't fear, the man is going to roll you over. Oddly enough, the album is so energetic that the lyrics, or the meaning of the lyrics can easily be lost as you spin across the room, because there are some serious visions that are laid down between the grooves. Beginning with the album's title, we are reminded that the cause of Bobby Fuller's death at age 23 has remained a mystery for 50 years. The singer and guitarist who led the Bobby Fuller Four to a Top 10 hit with "I Fought the Law," and was found dead of asphyxiation in the front seat of his mother's car on July 18, 1966. The debate still rages whether the rising star committed suicide, died accidentally or was murdered ... with the song twisting into a reaction to the deaths of so many young people being shot by cops [which you'll miss entirely unless you're listening]. Of course that brings in "Bad Year For Rock And Roll," which was partly inspired by the death of David Bowie, and so many others last year, not to mention "In The Mausoleum" a song dedicated to Alan Vega.

All of this, along with a couple of other tracks make this a deeply political album, though one laced with so much rock and roll, that it all comes across as some sort of joyous celebration for the lives of those caught in the crosshairs of the reaper.

But all of that is simply Chuck Prophet being a musical San Francisco journalist. He does swing back, rolling out "Coming Out In Code," which for all the world creates a West Coast translation of the old Velvet Underground number, "Waitin' For My Man." Even with his darker moments, the album is delightful, inventive, satirical, blasphemous, and exactly what America needs right here and right now ... complete with dueling guitars and relentless musicians swapping chords in the full light of the sun.

- Jenell Kesler

[ LINK ]

by - Jenell Kesler on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

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He's a throwback who believes two guitars, bass, drums and a sense of humor make for great music, and he's right.

INDEPENDENT

Chuck Prophet at his best on 'Bobby Fuller'

The song titles suggest this is an album worth hearing. They're Prophetic.

Along with the title cut, there's "Bad Year for Rock and Roll," ''Jesus Was a Social Drinker," ''If I Was Connie Britton" and "Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues," among others. As usual, Chuck Prophet's sing-speak vocals framed by garage band fury sound alternately angry and amused, and sometimes both at once. He's a throwback who believes two guitars, bass, drums and a sense of humor make for great music, and he's right.

The San Francisco-based Chuck Prophet sings about the price of love, the rewards of lust, flushing the past and American carnage, and even in the darkest moments he keeps toes tapping. "In the Mausoleum" is a dance tune and guitar workout.

Speaking of dancing, every song in "Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins" comes with a twist. "Bad Year for Rock and Roll" mercifully spares us a laundry list of the recently deceased but does mention Peter Sellers. "Jesus Was a Social Drinker" credits the messiah with "a best-selling novel."

And what if Prophet was Connie Britton? "My skin would smell like berries," he sings. Sweet.

[ LINK ]

April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

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Prophet was the consummate front man, an easy demeanour, wicked spiky sense of humour and the band were totally at ease with one another – locked in the pocket and enjoying the set.
*****

Music: Review: Chuck Prophet, Tunnels

Music: Review: Chuck Prophet, Tunnels

So how was Chuck Prophet, how was the show, how were his band The Mission Express? Well sonically they were blindingly good, delivering a two hour set of muscular bluesy Americana leavened with delightful harmonies and outstanding guitar work all built on a funky rhythmic groove. The material was excellent, Prophet & Co have an enviable back catalogue to draw from, packed with some of the finest songs laid to wax over the past few decades. Prophet was the consummate front man, an easy demeanour, wicked spiky sense of humour and the band were totally at ease with one another – locked in the pocket and enjoying the set. But visually? That's another matter because the Tunnels (busy as always) was rammed to the rafters and presumably there had been a discount for tall folk as the lofty demographic was well represented and every one of the lanky buggers was packed in at the front. So visuals were limited but there was a hell of an atmosphere throughout the room: a rambunctious crowd exchanged banter with the band, sang along – whether prompted or not – and spurred the band on during both new material and old favourites.

The band opened the set with the title track from the latest long player Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins and although the tune is still pretty fresh it was greeted like an old favourite by the crowd. (Trivia Corner: anyone able to connect Prophet to the Clash via Bobby Fuller? Answer at the end of the review). The nod to rock history continued with a lively cover of Chuck Berry's Ramona Say Yes delivered with swing and sass whilst Lonely Desolation completed the opening triple whammy. Prophet then addressed the crowd formally, acknowledging his pleasure at being back in town, "...Bristol's a guitar town..." and claimed to have seen the Blue Aeroplanes play a show with more guitar players on stage than the crowd before him, not beyond the realms of probability eh? Getting serious he then prefaced the next tune with a reference to the preponderance of celebrity deaths in 2016 and recent changes in the political landscape, suggesting that the world was losing its fundamental sense of decency particularly amongst those at the top. Although from the new LP, Bad Year for Rock n Roll has fast become a crowd pleasing anthem and the crowd drowned out the band during the chorus and lifted a blistering rendition into an early-set tour de force.

The set then seemed to rush by, Temple Beautiful an engagingly raucous call and response; Alex Nieto a moving, stirring description of (yet another) shameful American death – beautifully illustrating Prophet's ability to craft contemporary protest songs; Barely Exist introduced with a tale of a recent German show at which Prophet was asked "We tore down our wall, why do you want to start building walls?", said tale generating ironic cheers. There was considerable skill on display with the selection of songs too – Jesus Was a Social Drinker and Ford Econoline (apparently the second best thing to come out of Detroit – after The Stooges) both introduced levity amongst the more serious topics giving the show lyrical light and shade.

You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp) was introduced as the "...the heaviest thing you've ever heard..." (clearly the words of a man unfamiliar with the Temples Festival, RIP), however, the tune did indeed bring the heaviness as its riff ate up the room whilst the crowd once again took the vocals from the off. As they also did with Summertime Thing, which somehow managed to conjure up balmy evenings and languid sun drenched days despite the grey dampness the other side of the venue doors. Although the focus of the show, Prophet and his songs were beautifully served by the Mission Express: Stephanie Finch supplied sympathetic backing vox with delightful organ, piano & synth throughout but shone on In the Mausoleum (for Alan Vega), a booming reverb drenched tribute to another fallen hero. The rhythm section (Kevin White, bass guitar and Vicente Rodriguez drums, vocals) were the bedrock for the songs – White maintaining the tempo with metronomic precision, locked into the groove with Rodriguez as they offered a danceable counterpoint to the weight of the guitars. James DePrato traded lead & rhythm with Prophet throughout the night, both more than capable lead players and their duelling encompassed the melodic interplay of Lizzy with the heft of Skynyrd in their prime.

There was more amusement with the introduction to We Got Up and Played, as Hull got a slagging when Prophet endeavoured to find a comparison for a town as boring as Cleveland, birthplace of the song. That song pretty much summed up the whole ethos of the Mission Express, describing life as a working band a galaxy away from the stadium filling super groups. Cohen's Iodine was the final tribute to a much missed icon, with Finch leaving the keys for the co-vocal on a lovely, moving cover. After closing the set with a massive Willie Mays is Up at Bat the crowd were howling for more before the band had left the stage, ensuring the encore was never in doubt. Once again Bobby Fuller was with us in spirit with a pounding cover of Let Her Dance before the final tune You And Me Baby (Holding On) ended the set with yet more guitar weaving as Prophet and DePrato went toe-to-toe (or rather headstock-to-headstock) one final time. Tonight reminded us once again that there are dozens of talented artists to be seen in decent venues for less than a price of a Beyoncé beanie, and that two hours of quality songs, & banter delivered by time served musicians can lift the spirts as we all find ways to cope with a world that seems more like a Spitting Image episode than ever before.

Trivia corner answer: The Clash recorded Bobby Fuller's I Fought the Law and meanwhile Prophet has on several occasion performed their masterpiece London Calling in its entirety live.

[ LINK ]

by Jonathon Kardasz on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

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While this record was being made in 2016, we lost a lot of our heroes, Alan Vega among them. And obviously, there’s another track called “Bad Year For Rock and Roll” which is not just about losing heroes, it’s about losing faith.
*****

Rocker Chuck Prophet taps into ‘California noir’

Rocker Chuck Prophet taps into ‘California noir’

Chuck Prophet's new album is "Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins."

San Francisco songwriter Chuck Prophet had a reason for calling his new album "Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins" and echoing Fuller's hit "I Fought the Law" in its title track. As a kid in 1960s El Paso, Fuller was so obsessed with Buddy Holly, he and his brother drove to the New Mexico studio where Holly recorded, studied it, then constructed a replica in their parents' living room. But by the time the Fullers moved to California, the Beatles and Beach Boys had usurped the charts, making them, as "greasers from Texas, totally out of time," Prophet says, adding, "Then, sadly, Fuller was murdered at 23. So much of my record is California noir: People who came to California chasing a golden dream, with the noir being the difference between dream and reality."

Your "Sins" song "In The Mausoleum" was penned for the late Alan Vega. And it even taps into his classic techno-rockabilly sound.

While this record was being made in 2016, we lost a lot of our heroes, Alan Vega among them. And obviously, there's another track called "Bad Year For Rock and Roll" which is not just about losing heroes, it's about losing faith. I don't care who you are or whatever your beliefs are — I think 2016 really put your faith to the test. And there were a lot of things that happened last year that were just raw meat for me to gobble up as a songwriter. But I'm just a photographer. I just try to capture what I see.

What did you see on "Rider or the Train"?

That song is character-driven, and it's for a lot of forgotten people, a lot of people who, for one reason or another, are on the streets. When they asked Jim Thompson how he wrote so many novels, he said, "Well, it's easy, because they're all the same. The stories may be different, but the plot is always the same, which is that nothing is what it seems." And I feel like the homeless epidemic is just a manifestation of that. Nothing is what it seems, and everybody's got a story to tell.

Judging by the satiric "If I Was Connie Britton," another thing you observed was the TV series "Nashville."

Connie Britton leads a charmed life, and I thought, "Now there's a song!" But I'm amazed how much stuff they get right on "Nashville," like the mechanization of the publishing deals, the lot of the working-class musician in Nashville. They get the structure right, and then pour a nice, fat dollop of "Melrose Place" on top of it. I don't watch it compulsively, but I have watched it.

[ LINK ]

by Tom Lanham on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

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With references to El Paso, police shootings, and thoughts of being anywhere when “that song” comes on the radio, Chuck opens up the discourse (“I hear the record crackle; the needle skips and jumps…”).
*****

Elmore

Chuck Prophet

"I Fought the Law" was the only major hit for the Bobby Fuller Four, reaching the top ten in early 1966. By July, Bobby Fuller had died under mysterious circumstances. In Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, Chuck Prophet does not attempt to solve the mystery. He does, however, keep alive the spirit of the man who perhaps fought the law and lost, exploring the themes of celebrity, death, and disillusion.

As the title song opens the album, we are introduced to the man who inspired the music. With references to El Paso, police shootings, and thoughts of being anywhere when "that song" comes on the radio, Chuck opens up the discourse ("I hear the record crackle; the needle skips and jumps..."). Moving forward to today, we are reminded of those we lost in 2016, beginning when "the thin white duke took a final bow" giving us "one more star in the heavens now." Yes, it's been a "Bad Year for Rock and Roll," leaving us wondering when it's all going to end.

Endings and beginnings intertwine and hope blends with disillusion ("Open Up Your Heart" and "We Got Up and Played") but life goes on, sometimes with a smile. The bouncy T-Rex sound of "If I was Connie Britton" paints a portrait where "everything would go my way."

Prophet's Ray Davies-like vocals merge with the blistering chops of the Mission Express to create a rousing, thought-provoking melange of the highs and lows of society, all brought to a blistering end in "Alex Nieto" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYyyZHnR7d8), a tribute to a Bay area security guard killed by local police officers. Though "Alex Nieto was a pacifist, a 49ers fan" who "never made it home again," Chuck Prophet opens the gates, takes it home, and plows through a place of reckoning

–Gene Knapp

[ LINK ]

by –Gene Knapp on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

Chuck Prophet, one-time guitarist with cult country rockers Green On Red, knows and loves his rock’n’roll.

Scotsman

Music Review: Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express

Chuck Prophet, one-time guitarist with cult country rockers Green On Red, knows and loves his rock'n'roll. Whether he is covering his namesake Chuck Berry's Ramona Says Yes with contrasting embellishment from his wife Stephanie Finch on sighing backing vocals and a lean, mean lead guitar display from James DePrato, or taking a left turn into the bittersweet Byrdsian jangle of Lonely Desolation, playful new wave rocker Jesus Was a Social Drinker or existential roots ballad Barely Exist, he and his righteous band the Mission Express were simultaneously in thrall to and command of their tradition. ABC2, Glasgow **** So when Prophet declared in freewheeling song that it's been a Bad Year for Rock and Roll, you had better believe him. He paid tribute to the fallen heroes of 2016, covering Leonard Cohen's Iodine and stealing brazenly and lovingly from the late Alan Vega's band Suicide for the heatseeking rhythmic riff of In The Mausoleum. But Prophet and chums were also the revivifying tonic, celebrating the low-slung drawling joys of their great American songbook with the rollicking call-and-response of Temple Beautiful or the brooding, stormy (though not quite as heavy as promised) You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp). There were a few too many meandering jams in the second half of the set, for all their strung-out place in rock'n'roll, but at least when Prophet indulged, he did so with a sense of humour, delivering an entertaining geek sermon on Wish Me Luck. Not that this charmed and charming performer needs it. FIONA SHEPHERD

[ LINK ]

by FIONA SHEPHERD on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under

If it comes down to one man to save rock and roll, my money’s on Chuck Prophet.

The Speed of Sound with Kyle Meredith

Chuck Prophet on The Speed of Sound with Kyle Meredith

If it comes down to one man to save rock and roll, my money's on Chuck Prophet. His most recent run of albums harkens back to the purest form of the genre, with feet in both 60s garage and 70s riff-rock. His most recent LP, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, also looks at the legends we've lost, and on a wider scale, our troubling surroundings. It's a statement from an artist who's finding a new stride to hit 30 some odd years into his career.

[ LINK ]

by Kyle Meredith on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under

To celebrate his new album, we asked Chuck Prophet about 5 albums that changed his life.

CHUCK PROPHET: 5 ALBUMS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

Chuck Prophet will forever be closely linked to his less than 10-year stint in the seminal Paisley Underground meets Alt-Country

CHUCK PROPHET: 5 ALBUMS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

February 10 2017 by Bjørn Hammershaug

Chuck Prophet will forever be closely linked to his less than 10-year stint in the seminal Paisley Underground meets Alt-Country outfit Green On Red.

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Bobby Fuller Died for Your SinsChuck Prophet

But despite his major contributions to the band, particularly on albums like Gas Food Lodging (1985) and The Killer Inside Me (1987), and his potentially career-defining role in shaping the alternative rock sound of the 1980s, Prophet has managed to maintain an eclectic and wholly worthwhile solo career since 1990. Well established as a prominent singer, songwriter and genuine storyteller, Chuck Prophet draws from the rich well of Country and Folk as well as from Rock & Roll, putting out solo work on esteemed labels like Fire, Cooking Vinyl and Yep Roc, in addition to working with legendary artists like Lucinda Williams, Jonathan Richman, Alejandro Escovedo, Warren Zevon, Aimee Mann and more.

His solo catalog includes the critically-acclaimed Homemade Blood (1997), Age of Miracles (2004), ¡Let Freedom Ring!(2009) – a collection of political songs for non-political people – and his homage to his hometown of San Francisco, Temple Beautiful (2012). Out today, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sinsis a set in the style of California Noir, complete with songs about doomed love, inconsolable loneliness, rags to riches to rags again, and fast-paced, hard-boiled violence.

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Chuck Prophet Essentials30 songs

To celebrate his new album, we asked Chuck Prophet about 5 albums that changed his life.

* * *

The Clash

London Calling

Punk rock encouraged us all to pick up a guitar and form a band and lay it on the line in an effort to express ourselves. But for me, it was this record that showed us what was possible with punk rock. It's all in there. The straight-up disco of "Train in Vain." The Bo Diddley-goes-to-Jamaica of "Rudie Can't Fail." The rockabilly of "Brand New Cadillac." This record, to this day, is a kind of gateway drug for the kind of records I aspire to make. It's ultra-distilled. London Callingis The Clash's 200-proof masterwork. The ultimate proof of anything.

Kelley Stoltz

Antique Glow

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Jimmy JazzThe Clash

I love all of Kelley's records, but Antique Glow was where I came in and it will always hold a soft spot in my heart. Although a Detroit transplant, Kelley is a San Francisco treasure. If you're ever in San Francisco and you're a record geek and like to talk shop, or you just want to chat up someone with a PhD in Echo and the Bunnymen and a master's degree in obscure Brit-folk, visit Grooves Records in SF. You might be lucky enough to show up on a day where Maestro Stoltz is behind the counter.

Big Star

Third (a.k.a. Sister Lovers)

There are records that I get smitten with and then there are those few records that I return to again and again. This is Alex Chilton's abstract expressionist masterpiece and a record that's never let me down. With Jody Stephens behind the kit, John Fry behind the board and Jim Dickinson very much in his corner, Big Star's Third (aka Sister Lovers) is a triumph. They say that Alex was bitter by the time Sister Lovers came around. Whatever. Hell, I don't hear it (the bitterness). I hear beauty. The performances are loose. Effortless. Wild and free and off the cuff. But there's nothing half-assed or anything. It's a mystery to me how it all comes together. And I love it. I love when Alex sings, "I first saw you, you had on blue jeans . . ." It's poetry. From the heart, from the soul. Compositionally, this record, it's actually quite sophisticated. And with Alex's 3 A.M. first takes and the beautiful Carl Marsh strings, it's really the perfect marriage of the street and the regal.

J.J. Cale

Naturally

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HolocaustBig Star

There are those records that you can just turn people on to, ones you know will give pleasure. J.J. Cale's Naturally was one record that we could all agree on in the Green on Red van. The songs are short. Very demo-y you might say. It's a mystery that stays a mystery. It's the best place to start with J.J. – at the beginning. Sure, he plays one hell of a slinky guitar and all that, and half the songs were covered by people who turned them into bona fide hit records ("Call Me the Breeze," "After Midnight," "Magnolia"), and he was a stone-cold cool cat, but what he really did with this record is show me how record making can be elevated to an art form. J.J.'s the OG sonic auteur. I don't know how he made this. Maybe the trick is that J.J. engineered his own records. More likely, there's no trick at all. Whatever . . . it's a masterpiece. Check it out for yourself. The whole record is all of 30 minutes or so, what have you got to lose? His guitar and vocal are low in the mix. Lean in. It's worth the lean.

Lou Reed

New York

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Ah man, I've worn that record out. It's part of my DNA now. And giving credit where credit is due, it has had a massive influence on my writing. With every new record I make, if I'm lucky, I'll catch a kind of inspirational virus, and if it keeps me interested, I can follow it through. The virus usually starts with two or three songs that take me someplace I haven't been. Temple Beautiful was my San Francisco record, one where we tapped into the history, weirdness, energy, and spontaneity that brought me to San Francisco in the first place. I would never put myself next to Lou, but in a way, Temple Beautiful was my New York.

[ LINK ]

by Chuck Prophet on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under

This show was a perfect demonstration of why rock and roll needs people like Prophet.

Firing it up with Chuck Prophet at The Garage, Islington, London

Firing it up with Chuck Prophet at The Garage, Islington, London

Photo; The Key@XPN-WXPN

`Bad Year For Rock And Roll' was Chuck Prophet's tribute to the many musicians who died last year. This show was a perfect demonstration of why rock and roll needs people like Prophet. Leading his tight and talented band for over two hours Prophet mixed high energy rock and roll with songs that both provoked deep thoughts and amused.

Amid the power Prophet showed humour, including a keen understanding of British customs (stiff upper lip and cricket), all done with immense charm and his slightly squinty smile. He came across as a nice guy and is a highly accomplished performer who formed a close tie with his audience. He may have been around for a bit but he made clear his appreciation of people coming out on a damp Tuesday night. Chuck, it was no hardship, your show just confirms why we love music. If you'd had a bad day at the office, regardless of which day of the week, a Chuck Prophet show will restore your faith in all that really matters.

The music was tremendous but what struck me most was the way Prophet connected with his audience. The venue was ideal, smallish and almost full with an appreciative audience who bonded immediately with Prophet. Such a two way mutual respect was a feature throughout; it was like turning up to see a mate's band who was doing well but they hadn't forgotten their old friends.

In a way Prophet teases his audience. Power chords build up to some ferocious exchanges between him and guitarist James DePrato. These then came to a sharp halt, giving way to quite humorous, almost delicate, stories wryly delivered with a smile and twinkle in the eye. All part of the service.

Prophet combined good coverage of his latest (13th solo) release and some old faves. Highlights of the new record were title track and opener, 'Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins' and `Alex Nieto', about a pacifist who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both examples of hard rocking Chuck, a softer tone for a potentially delicate subject, `Jesus Was a Social Drinker' was the best example of his keen sense of humour.

From the back catalogue, rockers were `Ford Econoline' and `You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)', the latter introduced as not one for those with a weak heart. He was right. `Summertime Things' combined a measured acoustic opening before a switch back to electric lifted the rafters once again. With such an ability to express so wide a range of emotions Prophet writes his own material, but a good writer never forgets others. There were two standout covers; another Chuck's `Ramona Say Yes' and Leonard Cohen's `Iodine'.

You could say the show got too frantic at times but Prophet never lost control. Even when switching between mics he knew what he was doing and brought the pace out of the red zone just in time. His band, The Mission Express, were with him every turn of the way, each having an opportunity to shine individually as well as contribute to the tight sound they made together. They are Stephanie Finch (Mrs Prophet, on keys), Kevin White (bass), Vicente Rodriguez (drums) and James DePrato whose guitar playing both acted as a foil for Prophet as well as shining in his own right.

Chuck finished with his strong American credentials, `Willie Mays Is Up At Bat' following `Wish Me Luck' that would have floored a lesser artist. An encore of `Let Her Dance' and `You And Me Baby (Holding On) wrapped up a most uplifting evening of a heart worn rocking on the sleeve.

On the way out I overheard a couple of people comparing him to Tom Petty, both in looks and style. That had occurred to me but this is truly an artist with his own stamp of originality. If you can't see him live, get the new album.

[ LINK ]

by LYNDON BOLTON on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under

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Chuck Prophet is the bard laureate of San Francisco.

SF rocker Chuck Prophet plays Great American Music Hall

SF rocker Chuck Prophet plays Great American Music Hall

Chuck Prophet is the bard laureate of San Francisco. He has celebrated the city, mourned loss and waxed nostalgic with his last three albums — "Night Surfer," "Temple Beautiful" and the excellent new "Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins."

His music is perfect for long convertible rides with the top down, impromptu dance parties and especially live shows. Prophet's catalog is filled with driving rockers, noirish grooves and earnest tributes to San Francisco legends and martyrs.

Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express are scheduled to play at the Great American Music Hall on Saturday, April 15. They take a month off, then play locally again at the Rancho Nicasio Restaurant and Bar in Nicasio on May 19.

[ LINK ]

by Peter Hartlaub on April 21, 2017 COMMENTS • Filed under (Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins)

James DePrato was simply stunning

Bristol Post

Review: Chuck Prophet at The Tunnels

Review: Chuck Prophet at The Tunnels

By The Bristol Post | Posted: October 15, 2014

Comments (0)

★★★★★

By Keith Clark

IN the 20 years Chuck Prophet has been coming to the UK he has often brought with him very well-known singers to open his shows. So it was not really surprising that the Bristol venue was already packed by the time Jonah Tolchin, his touring companion on this year's tour, took to the stage.

Sadly Tolchin, who hails from New Jersey, was a tad disappointing. He has a big voice and his guitar playing was equally powerful, but vocally he often strayed from the notes and his playing was a little repetitive.

By the time Chuck Prophet and his regular band The Mission Express took to the stage the venue was full and ready to rock. He has a new album in the shops, Night Surfer, and we got plenty of new numbers that showed that Chuck Prophet has lost none of his ability to write extremely well-crafted narrative songs often with cascades of surreal imagery set to hook-laden melodies that stay in your head for hours.

Countrified Inner City was as riff heavy as a Rolling Stones song while there were echoes of The Beatles in the powerful Wish Me Luck.

Ford Econoline was about the most raunchy sounding homage to a van you are ever likely to hear, Tell Me Anything was incredibly catchy and for Guilty As A Saint he got the stage lights turned right down for what he described as "a sensitive song."

But the night was dominated by classic Prophet from right across his long career. Songs like Just To See Your Smile, The Left Hand and The Right Hand, Castro Halloween, the quite surreal I Bow Down And Pray To Every Woman I See and the lengthy encore song You Did were greeted with loud cheers.

Temple Beautiful and Willy Mays Is Up To Bat, about a notable baseball star, turned into sing-alongs with the audience responding with loud enthusiasm. The extended version of Summertime Thing with Prophet trading his amazingly inventive guitar solos with fellow guitarist James DePrato was simply stunning. But then it was a stunning performance by an artist and a band that ne

Temple Beautiful and Willy Mays Is Up To Bat, about a notable baseball star, turned into sing-alongs with the audience responding with loud enthusiasm. The extended version of Summertime Thing with Prophet trading his amazingly inventive guitar solos with fellow guitarist James DePrato was simply stunning. But then it was a stunning performance by an artist and a band that that never fail to excite.

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Review/story-23169729-detail/story.html#ixzz3HfiMreiF

Follow us: @BristolPost on Twitter | bristolpost on Facebook

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by Keith Clark on October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under

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relive and rediscover the richness of Prophet's words.

Journal Sentinal

Chuck Prophet's latest album, "Night Surfer," is full of contradictory imagery.

Chuck Prophet Night Surfer Yep Roc Records Roots-rocking singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet's latest album, "Night Surfer," is full of contradictory imagery. There's that album title, for one, and just look at these song names: "Countrified Inner City Technological Man." "Felony Glamour." "Guilty as a Saint." And on "Laughing on the Inside," he also sings of "crying out loud." Thoughtful and intriguing imagery lures you in more than anything. And if you find yourself giving "Night Surfer" repeat listens, and chances are you will, it won't be because of the music as much as the desire to relive and rediscover the richness of Prophet's words. Listen to the album on Spotify. Chuck Prophet performs Nov. 6 at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. — Piet Levy

[ LINK ]

by Piet Levy on October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under (Night Surfer)

BLURT

Album: Night Surfer Artist: Chuck Prophet

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: September 23, 2014

www.yeproc.com

It's little surprise to find Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, David Bowie and Elvis Costello playing the part of would-be role models. After all, there are few albums released over the past several decades that don't find at least one of those icons sharing their sound. However, it's somewhat rare when all those influences mesh together or completely coincide.

It's not that Chuck Prophet needs any guideposts to find his way; indeed, after 30 years – five with seminal psychedelic band Green On Red, the remainder on his own – he clearly commands his own signature style. Still, there's no denying the influences that abound here, as strung through the ricochet rhythms of "Countrified Inner City Technological Man," the robust rocker "They Don't Know About Me and You," the kinetic strum of "Ford Econoline," and the relentless tempo igniting "Felony Glamour."

Likewise, there's no avoiding the inevitable comparisons that pop up in practically every song, often turning Night Surfer into a game of name that nuance. Prophet can be, by turns, both snarky and sardonic, qualities the aforementioned forebears know all too well. Happily though, he himself is no slacker, especially when it comes to both sentiment and sarcasm. And in many ways, that makes him every bit their equal.

DOWNLOAD: "Countrified Inner City Technological Man," "They Don't Know About Me and You," "Ford Econoline"

[ LINK ]

by BY LEE ZIMMERMAN on October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under

americana UK

thirteenth time lucky

  • This is the 13th studio album from Chuck Prophet, an artist that has released a long line of high quality albums (notably 2012's Temple Beautiful), can he do it again? The album starts strongly with 'Countrified Inner City Technological Man'. It starts sounding like either 'Keep on running' or 'I am the resurrection', a classic drum beat that then leads into a Rolling Stones (complete with cow bell) style jaunt. The song's lyrics are political and show a scepticism towards surveillance and religion...topical, yet quite obvious. The catchiness of the chorus cannot be denied, and it is a great opener.

If you didn't know Chuck Prophet it would be obvious from listening that he has been at this songwriting lark a while. The songs are all self assured and the band are tight. You can hear Bob Dylan and Tom Petty in the crafting of the songs, the structuring of the songs is sublime. Lyrically, the album is less cocksure, the anxieties with modern life are apparent throughout, and this is refreshing and gives Chuck a sense of vulnerability not afforded by the instrumentation. Other highlights include 'Tell Me Anything(Turn to Gold)' and the album's last track, 'Love Is the Only Thing'. The latter starts with a drum solo and lyrically the song is a fitting end to an album of ups and downs.

[ LINK ]

October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under

a cut above the herd

Irish Times

Sometimes the unknown pen can nail it

Chuck Prophet: Night Surfer

Joe Breen

Sometimes the unknown pen can nail it: "Chuck Prophet shapes his restless career with inimitable subtle flair: a vivid parade of razor-edged one-liners camouflaged in a slack-jawed drawl, songs about heartbreak and everyman heroism, drenched in twisted lines of rude Telecaster". In that bio is the essence of the 51-year-old Californian-born former Green On Red maverick. He makes you laugh; he makes you think; and often he does both at the same time. This is his 13th solo album since Green On Red and though the 12 tracks may not be his best collection, the likes of Ford Econoline and Truth Will Outare a cut above the herd. See him prove it at the Workman's Club, Dublin, on October 16th. chuckprophet.com

[ LINK ]

by Joe Breen on October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under

his discography is an embarrassment of riches.

OFF THE TRACKS

his discography is an embarrassment of riches

October 1, 2014 by Simon Sweetman

Chuck Prophet: Night Surfer

Chuck Prophet

Night Surfer

Yep Roc Records/Southbound

Will history remember Chuck Prophet as some sort of Marshall Crenshaw-type? Sure, probably, but that's about as useful – and worth worrying about – as determining what is and isn't power-pop. Prophet makes great music – and he's been consistent. That the world – in its larger sense – hasn't caught on just makes it all the more precious for those of us who do know about Chuck and what he does.

It started with his time as a member of Green on Red (great band) and now a baker's dozen of solo albums, all running from good to great – hints of Beck in the voice from time to time (If I Was A Baby) and Tom Petty in the run of the music (Ford Econoline) but Chuck's got his own thing going on. Currently – and it continues here, with Night Surfer, he's serving his muse best by weighing in on the jangle, whether it be the Robert Plant-like twitch of Felony Galmour or the roots-rock balladry of Tell Me Anything (Turn to Gold). Night Surfer is that rare album where the playing is spot-on right across the board, every track – so too is the writing. A bunch of future-classics, if only when played at a gig to the faithful – but it's that sort of career high that might make someone (relatively) new to Prophet's work wonder if this is a compilation, a collection of a decade's worth of best ideas, rather than simply a dozen new songs, the first in a couple of years.

Underrated is a bit of an ugly, frustrating term – it does apply here, even if the artist wouldn't want it and the fans might want to shout from the rooftops that they've always known, even if in a small circle, how great their guy is.

Night Surfer feels like Crenshaw hooking up with Alex Chilton (Laughing On The Inside, Lonely Desolation), it feels like Tom Petty and Bob Dylan working together in earnest rather than those past follies (Truth Will Out), it feels like Beck and Robert Plant connecting over country music (Love Is The Only Thing) but far more importantly – and impressively – it feels like everything from Green On Red's Gas Food Lodging through solo highlights such asThe Age of Miracles and Temple Beautiful continuing on, culminating in this latest batch of the best songs that not enough people will hear.

That just makes them more special for those of us already hooked and/or prepared to discover.

Night Surfer doesn't have anything approaching a dud-track, it's close to perfect, seamless, almost his very best; the only reason I can't quite call this his best album is because his discography is an embarrassment of riches.

[ LINK ]

by Simon Sweetman on October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under

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What is a night surfer?

No Depression

Talking with the Night Surfer: An Interview with Chuck Prophet

INTERVIEW

Talking with the Night Surfer: An Interview with Chuck Prophet

by Hal Bogerd

September 16, 2014

It often sounds naïve, stupid or both to pick a favorite disc of the year too early in the year. With only a couple of months left in 2014 before obsessive listeners pick their "Best of" lists for the year I feel comfortable and confident picking Chuck Prophet's Night Surfer (9/23, YepRoc) as my disc of the year. Night Surfer is a rocking guitar album with a romantic heart and Prophet mixes his sardonic social commentary with a healthy dose of optimism on his 13th solo album because in the end "Love is the Only Thing".

HB-What's a Night Surfer?

CP-Honestly it sounded like a title. Once it was married with an image it just started to look like somebody else's record. I thought, Well, there it is, but there is a longer story if you want it. I grew up in Orange County, California and used to surf the Huntington Pier at night under the lights because it was so crowded. There's something sort of almost post-apocalyptic about that image and at one point this record was kind of dystopian in the sense that it was an opportunity for songwriting once I tapped into that vein. I don't really think it's a dystopian record now or at least I had second thoughts about that but it was enough to get me excited about writing songs.

This is your fourth album on the YepRoc label. Do you have a deal with them for more to come or is it one record at a time. How's that work?

I'm not quite sure. Many of my heroes are film makers like John Sayles. People that have been able to make stuff with their skinny foot in the door of the mainstream but at the same time they've been able to work outside it. A lot of it is just getting the money together. Those are the guys that I follow.

The first thing you do is get a batch of songs together and if you're lucky enough to collect what I call "go to the head of the class" songs then you've got your script and at a certain point you've got to figure out how to do it. There's a lot of ways to the waterfall. I met with the YepRoc guys last March and told them I want to put a record out in the fall and they said we need a record six months in advance in order to really give it the best shot. Yeah, I know but I need this to come out in September because I want to tour in the fall. And they said we don't really base our releases around your tour dates. That's cool, it's kind of the tail wagging the dog thing. They're running a company and they only have so many open spots in their release schedule. I understand but there are some things more important than campaigns for records. For me, this is who I am and maybe it is not the smartest thing but I need to be out there in the fall playing and we need to figure out a way to do it and YepRoc said we understand that too. My attitude is, I got to go out and play these songs because if I wait until the spring I don't know if I'm even gonna like these songs. I need to look after me and that helps me make sense of my life and make sense of the dumb decisions I've made and they said, "Okay, we'll help you do it". They understood that it's not just about being successful. There's this thing where people assume records are dead and you should just put out one song and to be successful these are the things you need to do. I just tune out because I'm not really in it to be successful. I'm in it to make sense of things. I somehow think if I could make a classic, a real classic record then everything would come together in my life and that's probably a lie. But in terms of the lies we tell ourselves it's not the worst.

The first time I heard any of the new songs was a solo set at the Mystery Brewing Public House in Hillsborough, NC and then later I heard the full band versions on the record and you're going to tour with a full band. So whatever the situation is is good?

I'd like to tell you there's more of a plan than all that but yeah whatever the situation is.

If they're good songs they're going to hold up solo.

You hope. You hope they can stand up by themselves. I honestly don't know. At Mystery Brewing. I didn't now. I didn't know how people were going to react. I'm desperate. I was just a desperate little man up there. The guy with a guitar and that's it. There's nothing to hide behind.

The record kicks off with "Countrified Inner City Technological Man". It reminds me of the Stones around Beggars Banquet. It feels like a real rock album.

I was really into Beggars Banquet but also into Muswell Hillbillies. Ray Davies has always been a source of inspiration. Muswell Hillbillies has this almost retro-nuevo thing thematically but one of the things I noticed about "20th Century Man" is that it is driven by the rhythm guitar and it's acoustic. If I was to be honest it's Ray Davies, Bowie's Hunky Dory, it's Beggars Banquet. All these influences fighting it out. When you bring the acoustic up loud and make that the driving guitar then people are gonna come up to me and say it reminds them of the Stones. And I'll just go "Yeah, that's about right".

There's just something really odd and goofy and likable about the character in "Wish Me Luck" when he says "Wish me luck, even if you don't mean it" and "Wish me luck, even though I don't need it".

I wrote that with my friend Kurt and we kind of had the first line and then it just exploded. I hit that E minor chord and started screaming "Wish me luck even if you don't mean it.......It's not like I need it!" And we just tapped into this boasting sort of Kenny Powers narcissistic guy that's also very lovable and it just turned into Sideways the movie. And that was fun. You know the guy at the party that's bragging about his adventures and holding forth and at that point it wrote itself. We had a specific guy in mind too but...

That's probably better off left unsaid.

Yeah, definitely.

[ LINK ]

by Hal Bogerd on October 30, 2014 COMMENTS • Filed under (Night Surfer)

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