It's been 20 years since Chuck Prophet found himself lumped in with LA's neo-psychedelic "Paisley Underground" during his tenure with Green on Red. But since launching a solo career in 1990, Prophet has kept evolving as a songwriter and guitarist of formidable (albeit under-appreciated) gifts.
The Borderline's promoter, Barry Everitt, will sing Prophet's praises to anyone within earshot, including tonight's audience. Springing to the microphone before Prophet's band came back for some encores, Barry commended him as "one of the best fucking guitarists in existence".
This is true, and one of several good reasons for going to a Prophet show is the opportunity it affords to watch a master of the Telecaster in full spate. Prophet's playing is like an instant guide to 50 years of guitar-playing, from the twangy bottom-end tones of Dick Dale or Duane Eddy to rolling barrages of Neil Young-style chords or intricate, string-bending runs in the Clarence White mould. The trick has been to shape his playing into an indispensable part of the way he writes and performs, so the guitar is woven through the music like an inner voice supplying insights, asides and a running commentary.
Prophet's songwriting is similarly eclectic, though he adds an idiosyncratic spin so that the stuff coming out of the blender couldn't be anybody else but him. Chuck has a radio-friendly side to him, best expressed in the effervescent Summertime Thing, but he also likes to range through sprawling narratives that travel from urban chaos to desert wilderness.
Prophet's dirty-blonde hair and dark southern drawl render him susceptible to country-boy stereotyping, and the likes of Just to See You Smile can only be described as country rock. On the other hand, You Did rollicks along over a modified hip-hop beat while Prophet growls into a weird metallic-sounding microphone, and wonders "who put the wang in the wang-dang-doodle? You did!!!" He'll also defend to the death his right to borrow from Bob Dylan, who popped up in a cover version of Abandoned Love. Prophet called his new album Age of Miracles, and he had a point.
· At King Tut's, Glasgow, tonight. Then touring.