PRESS

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Nobody harneses the distinctive sound of a Fender Telecaster quite like Chuck Prophet

The Line Of Best Fit

Nobody harneses the distinctive sound of a Fender Telecaster quite like Chuck Prophet and, as the opening chords of `Play That Song Again' ring out with an undeniable twang, Prophet starts Temple Beautiful with a statement of intent from the off. His most focused and concise work in years, Prophet's twelfth studio album is ultimately an open love letter to San Francisco -- filled with gut wrenching guitar licks (`Castro Halloween' / `Who Shot John'),  classic Dylan-esque phrasing (`Play That Song Again') and gorgeous analogue production (`He Came From So Far Away') -- Temple Beautiful harks back to the raw pomp and swagger of 1997′s Homemade Blood and sheds the daliances with synths and samples that have perhaps crowded the past few releases. A return to form, some would say.

[ LINK ]

February 1, 2012 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (Temple Beautiful)

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If you're a fan of complete albums, big guitar and great lyrics you need a copy of Temple Beautiful.

No Depression

Temple Beautiful (YepRoc, release date 2/7/12) is a rock and roll concept album that delivers a twelve track homage to San Francisco as seen through the eyes of adopted son and singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet. Chuck describes his latest recording as  "made in San Francisco by San Franciscans about San Francisco" but he's not serving up Rice-A-Roni or riding cable cars and you won't find most of Temple Beautiful in your California history books. Yeah, pre-steroid era hero Willie Mays, martyr for gay rights Mayor Harvey Milk and the devastation of AIDS on the city appear in song but more often than not Chuck  honors the quirky fringe even as he sings of the "heart of the heart of the city."

The colorful cast of characters includes San Francisco eccentrics Emperor Norton and the Red Man to the porn producing Mitchell Brothers of Behind The Green Door fame and the silicone enhanced exotic dancer Carol Doda who shocked San Francisco in the 1960's when she "showed us everything she had and then she showed us all a little more" as America's first topless and then first bottomless dancer. With a tip of the hat to Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City", "White Night, Big City" is Prophet's tribute to Harvey Milk who was assassinated by "a little man in a fit of rage." Prophet adds a call and response and doo wops to "White Night" that makes you wonder if Chuck's considered transforming Temple Beautiful into musical theatre for his beloved city. "The Hand Left Hand and the Right Hand" begins with the Mitchell Brothers and then references one or more pairs of feuding musical brothers who have not (yet) committed fratricide as Jim Mitchell did when he shot and killed brother Artie.

On the upbeat vaguely Wrong `Em Boy0-ish  "Little Girl, Little Boy" Stephanie Finch sings a duet with Chuck on the most playful track on the disc. You'd expect Chuck might have spent some time in bars during his time in the city and two of his former favorite hangouts are highlighted.  The Albion Bar and  Temple Beautiful (the bar was previously the Peoples Temple of Jim Jones infamy which is both cool and creepy) are paid tribute as Chuck recalls the clubs and concerts of his youth.  No history of San Francisco would be complete without a mention of Castro Street: a street that symbolized both liberation and excess with its annual Halloween party. Little Steven named "Temple Beautiful" his "Coolest Song in the World" on an Underground Garage broadcast. Enough said. What can I add to that?

In this age of MP3 files, Spotify and nonexistent or unread liner notes casual fans may be unaware that Chuck co-wrote and played guitar on all of Alejandro Escovedo's Real Animal (2008) as well as co-writing  half the songs on  Street Songs of Love (2010).  Add his political solo disc Let Freedom Ring (2009) and this year's more personal Temple Beautiful and I can't think of a more productive songwriter of quality tunes over the past three years. If you're a fan of complete albums, big guitar and great lyrics you need a copy of Temple Beautiful.  The only thing I don't like about Temple Beautiful is that I won't be in San Francisco on February 7th to take Chuck's Temple Beautiful San Francisco Bus Tour!

[ LINK ]

February 1, 2012 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (Temple Beautiful)

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Temple Beautiful

CHUCK PROPHET RELEASES TEMPLE BEAUTIFUL ON YEP ROC RECORDS FEBRUARY 7, 2012

TWELFTH STUDIO ALBUM PAYS HOMAGE TO SAN FRANCISCO

CAST OF CHARACTERS INCLUDES WILLIE MAYS, THE MITCHELL BROTHERS, JIM JONES, RED MAN, DAN WHITE, CASTRO DISTRICT, EMPEROR NORTON AND MORE

NATIONAL TOUR TO BE ANNOUNCED

"...a sparky songwriter worthy of greater attention." Q Magazine

"Prophet delivers with quixotic swagger and declamatory sneer." MOJO

With "his triple-threat ability—excellent songwriter, killer lead guitarist, charismatic frontman"—(AOL Spinner), California native and longtime San Francisco resident singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet pays homage to the city he calls home for his twelfth studio album, Temple Beautiful. Set for February 7, 2012 release on Yep Roc Records, the album is named for the ill-fated club of the same name, "Temple Beautiful is a long closed punk rock club located in the old Reverend Jim Jones' People's Temple. Where I saw my first gigs," says Prophet, who co-produced the album with Brad Jones. "This record was made in San Francisco, by San Franciscans about San Francisco."

Co-written with klipschutz (AKA klip) at Prophet's "non-internet-having office space," the 12-track album's odes include "Castro Halloween," "a gleaming, breezy rocker, anchored by Prophet's everyman voice" (SF Weekly), "Willie Mays Is Up At Bat," "Emperor Norton in the Last Year of His Life (1880)," and the title track which boasts Roy Loney, vocalist of legendary Bay Area band The Flamin' Groovies, on guest vocals.

Compelled to pay tribute to the history and weirdness that brought him to the city nearly 30 years ago and inspired by current San Francisco artists, Prophet entered the studio with James DePrato (guitars), Rusty Miller (bass, vocals) and The Tubes' Prairie Prince (drums, percussion) to record "an unsentimental (though loving) tour of San Francisco," says Prophet. "My effort to tap into the history, the weirdness, the energy and spontaneity that brought me here in the first place. All the songs are San Francisco related somehow." The album also features Stephanie Finch (vocals); Chris Carmichael (cello, violin); Jim Hoke (woodwinds, flute).

At 18, Prophet joined the seminal Green on Red and soon became one of the driving forces behind the cult heroes and the influential L.A. Paisley Underground scene in the 1980s. During his eight-year run with the band, he cut a major-label album with producer Jim Dickinson, enjoyed a couple record deals, and made his solo debut in 1990 with Brother Aldo (Fire Records). He subsequently released Balinese Dancer (1993), Feasts of Hearts (1995), Homemade Blood (Hightone, 1998), The Hurting Business (Hightone, 1998), Homemade Boot: Live at Roskilde (Cord, 2000), No Other Love (New West, 2002), Ages of Miracles (New West, 2004), Turn The Pigeons Loose (Cooking Vinyl, 2004), Soap and Water (Yep Roc, 2007) and 2009's neo-political rocker, ¡Let Freedom Ring! (Yep Roc).

Over the past several years, Chuck's music has been heard in several hit television series' including True Blood (HBO), Californication (Showtime), and Sons of Anarchy (FX). He also co-wrote all the songs on Alejandro Escovedo's 2008 critically acclaimed album Real Animal.

Throughout his career his tunes have been performed by legends like Solomon Burke and Heart, he's recorded with everyone from Warren Zevon to Kelly Willis, and taken the stage with Jim Dickinson, Lucinda Williams and Aimee Mann, to name a few. As a producer, Prophet's credits include Kelly Willis' Translated From Love (2007) and Jace Everett's ("Bad Things" True Bloodtheme song) new release Red Revelations.

Track List:

1. Play That Song Again

2. Castro Halloween

3. Temple Beautiful

4. Museum Of Broken Hearts

5. Willie Mays is Up at Bat

6. The Left Hand and the Right Hand

7. I Felt Like Jesus

8. Who Shot John

9. He Came From So Far Away (Red Man Speaks)

10. Little Girl, Little Boy

11. White Night, Big City

12. Emperor Norton in the Last Year of His Life (1880)

For more information, please contact Mary Moyer, Lellie Capwell, or Carla Sacks:

Sacks & Co, or , 212.741.1000, , 818.384.1180

February 1, 2012 COMMENTS • Filed under Press Releases (Temple Beautiful)

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a vibrant tribute to San Francisco

Tucson Weekly

Chuck Prophet loves San Francisco. It's the sort of love that knows every crack in the sidewalk, that celebrates the glory days of shuttered clubs, that never ceases to treasure the weird and the mundane alike.

There's more than a twinge of nostalgia in the title song "Temple Beautiful," an ode to the old Geary Boulevard club where Prophet saw so many influential bands. But it's hardly an album buried in the past.

What makes Temple Beautiful such a vibrant tribute to San Francisco is the raucous thrill that Prophet brings to the songwriting and performance. On the heels of 2009's excellent ¡Let Freedom Ring!,an angry and disillusioned state-of-the-nation political album,Temple Beautiful bristles with the boisterous urgency of a Friday night.

As a listener, it helps to be someone who's walked through the Castro, the Haight and the Mission and can identify with San Francisco's uniquely intoxicating effect. But Prophet and his band deliver the songs with the universal appeal of tight and swaggering rock `n' roll. There's a bit of blues, a bit of psychedelic rock and some surging power pop.

Opener "Play That Song Again" sets the tone with its churning guitar chords and "oh oh oh" chorus. "Willie Mays Is Up at Bat" celebrates the iconic centerfielder and how the city's fans halted everything to watch Mays hit.

Prophet makes San Francisco come to life in all its enduring, freaky glory, a city of unhinged expression that holds in permanent thrall those lucky enough to get it.

[ LINK ]

January 31, 2012 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (Temple Beautiful)

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When the shots rang out/ And two men died/ You took off your mask just to see me cry.

SF Weekly

Exclusive Premieres Exclusive Premiere: SF's Chuck Prophet Pens a Breezy, Longing Ode to the Old Days of Castro Halloween

Who remembers the old days of Halloween in the Castro? It wasn't that many years ago—only the mid-2000s—that thousands of revelers of all genders, orientations, and shades of nudity would gather in the city's most fun-loving hood for a massive street party. Castro Halloween parties were huge and wild enough to go down as legendary—they helped define the area's spirit over the years. Then, after four stabbings one year and a massive shooting that wounded nine people another year, the big, official party died. But S.F. singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet remembers. For his new upcoming album about San Francisco, Temple Beautiful (Out Jan. 24 on Yep Roc), Prophet wrote an ode of sorts to Castro Halloween parties the way they used to be, while sadly noting the violence that caused the city to stop the event. His first line is, "When the shots rang out/ And two men died/ You took off your mask just to see me cry." The song itself is a gleaming, breezy rocker, anchored by Prophet's everyman voice. We're happy to premiere it this Halloween on All Shook Down—so download the song and read Prophet's lyrics after the jump. Chuck Prophet - "Castro Halloween" by Yep Roc Music Group "Castro Halloween" by Chuck Prophet When the shots rang out and two men died, you took off your mask just to see me cry Did you dream you up Or did you dream me? Is there any place else you would rather be? Halloween was here, but now it's gone Men in skirts and heels are marching on Halloween is gone Is the pain all your yours Is the pleasure mine? Don't you think it fitting we trade sometime? When the merchants close the sidewalks down With the leaves on the trees still golden brown Halloween was here but now its gone Men in skirts and heels are marching on Halloween is gone Halloween was here but now its gone Men in skirts and heels are marching on Halloween is gone... Halloween is gone ——Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ian S. Port @iPORT, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown. Tags: Castro Halloween, Chuck Prophet, Halloween

[ LINK ]

by Ian S. Port on October 29, 2011 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles (Temple Beautiful)

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SF Examiner

Chuck Prophet still ‘chasing the San Francisco dragon’

It's no secret that former Green On Red axeman Chuck Prophet is something of a fixture around his native San Francisco.

You could set your watch to his appearance every Tuesday morning at the old Tower Records on Market Street. If he wasn't touring, that's where you'd find him, combing through that week's new releases. 

Now, he's penned an entire album-length ode to The City with "Temple Beautiful," which hits stores Jan. 24. It's named for the defunct music venue where Prophet saw countless shows when he first moved here 30 years ago.

Prophet — whose gruff, gravelly growl has been heard in the soundtracks for such hip cable-TV shows as "Californication," "True Blood" and "Sons Of Anarchy" — penned tributes like "Castro Halloween," "Emperor Norton In The Last Year Of His Life (1880)," and the title track, which boasts a cameo from local legend Roy Loney, of Flamin' Groovies/Phantom Movers renown. 

About San Francisco, Prophet employs tongue-in-cheek drug metaphors to comment, "It can suck you under. That first hit. It really does a whammy to you. And if you're like me, you can find yourself chasing the San Francisco dragon for the rest of your life. That's what this record is about." 

For more on our prodigal son, visit www.chuckprophet.com.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/blogs/backstage-pass/2011/10/chuck-prophet-still-chasing-san-francisco-dragon#ixzz1bu8q5zb6

[ LINK ]

by Tom Lanham on October 26, 2011 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles (Temple Beautiful)

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San Francisco’s a place where people come from all over to wave their freak flag.

Santa Barbara Independent

Chuck Prophet Talks London Calling, Fog City, Sings Like Hell

Like many of Sings Like Hell's returning faces, Chuck Prophet embodies the notion of laidback California cool. In conversation, he's all self-deprecating humor and Dude-like drawl, and in song, he exudes a swagger and Telecaster-heavy reverence for Americana that calls to mind that other Golden State-inspired great, Tom Petty. On Saturday, Prophet returns to the Lobero's monthly concert series for another go at it, this time with wife-cum-opening act, Stephanie Finch.

While the show is just one of two currently scheduled dates for the San Francisco songwriter, he's got no shortage of tunes—and stories—to share with fans this time around, namely his recently completed tribute tour to The Clash and a follow-up to his 2009 neo-political rocker, Let Freedom Ring! And though the singer is hesitant to nail down any concrete plans for a new record, he's more than forthcoming with its details.

So your manager tells me you're headed into the studio after we speak. Is that right? [Laughs.] I mean, I kind of have a studio that I... I'm always wrestling something to the ground or another, but I don't think it's necessarily a full, card-carrying album.

Where are you in the process? I've been writing a kind of San Francisco record. I made my last record in Mexico City and the previous one in Nashville, so I've just been [trying to] tap into the weirdness and energy and spontaneity that brought me here in the first place. It's a pretty deep well of stuff to pull from. But I've made some demos; I'm kicking the songs around.

Folks called Let Freedom Ring! a "political album for nonpolitical people." If you had to attach a slogan to what you're working on now, what would it be? I don't know if I could come up with anything that clever; that was pretty good, the political music for nonpolitical people. I might have actually started that rumor. I don't know what I'm doing right now, though. I'm definitely looking backwards through the looking glass. San Francisco's a place where people come from all over to wave their freak flag. The city itself does a kind of whammy on you when you're young and you first come here. It's a feeling that you can sort of end up chasing for the rest of your life, you know? The first hit.

Chuck Prophet, Stephanie Finch, and The Company Men

  • Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara
  • Cost: $35
  • Age limit: Not available

Full event details

You spent most of last month in Spain with this Clash tribute. Can you tell me a bit about your history with London Calling? I got it as a kid—I was already playing guitar; I was about 16. I didn't have a library of music. Kids today can seek out any kind of weird culture or weird music that they can identify with, and that's great, but when I was young, [that album] was a big deal. I bought it used, and at first, I didn't really crack the code on it, but as I stuck with it, it became more mysterious, really, but every time I listened to it, more was revealed. It really was a perfect record in so many ways. As a kid, I was as interested in Bo Diddley as I was in contemporary music, and it was The Clash that opened that up. They were always one of those bands that had one eye on the road ahead of 'em and one eye on the rearview mirror.

You've played the Sings Like Hell series a number of times now. What keeps you coming back? We played it with Alejandro [Escovedo] one time, we played it another time with Kelly Willis, and I think we played it yet another time with The Gourds, so this might be our third or fourth time. I think the theater itself is glorious in its own way. It's a great setting to hear music, and because it's a community thing, I think people are more open-minded in a way. With a series, people get turned onto music that they might not normally be aware of. It's fun in that way.

4·1·1

Chuck Prophet plays the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) this Saturday, February 19, at 8 p.m. with Stephanie Finch & The Company Men. Call 963-0761 or visit singslikehell.com for info.

[ LINK ]

by ALY COMINGORE on February 18, 2011 COMMENTS • Filed under Interviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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Like many of Sings Like Hell’s returning faces, Chuck Prophet embodies the notion of laidback California cool.

Chuck Prophet Talks London Calling, Fog City, Sings Like Hell

Troubadour Co-Headlines the Lobero this Saturday with Wife Stephanie Finch

Like many of Sings Like Hell's returning faces, Chuck Prophet embodies the notion of laidback California cool. In conversation, he's all self-deprecating humor and Dude-like drawl, and in song, he exudes a swagger and Telecaster-heavy reverence for Americana that calls to mind that other Golden State-inspired great, Tom Petty. On Saturday, Prophet returns to the Lobero's monthly concert series for another go at it, this time with wife-cum-opening act, Stephanie Finch.

While the show is just one of two currently scheduled dates for the San Francisco songwriter, he's got no shortage of tunes—and stories—to share with fans this time around, namely his recently completed tribute tour to The Clash and a follow-up to his 2009 neo-political rocker, Let Freedom Ring! And though the singer is hesitant to nail down any concrete plans for a new record, he's more than forthcoming with its details.

So your manager tells me you're headed into the studio after we speak. Is that right? [Laughs.] I mean, I kind of have a studio that I... I'm always wrestling something to the ground or another, but I don't think it's necessarily a full, card-carrying album.

Where are you in the process? I've been writing a kind of San Francisco record. I made my last record in Mexico City and the previous one in Nashville, so I've just been [trying to] tap into the weirdness and energy and spontaneity that brought me here in the first place. It's a pretty deep well of stuff to pull from. But I've made some demos; I'm kicking the songs around.

Folks called Let Freedom Ring! a "political album for nonpolitical people." If you had to attach a slogan to what you're working on now, what w

ould it be? I don't know if I could come up with anything that clever; that was pretty good, the political music for nonpolitical people. I might have actually started that rumor. I don't know what I'm doing right now, though. I'm definitely looking backwards through the looking glass. San Francisco's a place where people come from all over to wave their freak flag. The city itself does a kind of whammy on you when you're young and you first come here. It's a feeling that you can sort of end up chasing for the rest of your life, you know? The first hit.

Chuck Prophet, Stephanie Finch, and The Company Men

  • Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara
  • Cost: $35
  • Age limit:Not available

Full event details

You spent most of last month in Spain with this Clash tribute. Can you tell me a bit about your history with London Calling? I got it as a kid—I was already playing guitar; I was about 16. I didn't have a library of music. Kids today can seek out any kind of weird culture or weird music that they can identify with, and that's great, but when I was young, [that album] was a big deal. I bought it used, and at first, I didn't really crack the code on it, but as I stuck with it, it became more mysterious, really, but every time I listened to it, more was revealed. It really was a perfect record in so many ways. As a kid, I was as interested in Bo Diddley as I was in contemporary music, and it was The Clash that opened that up. They were always one of those bands that had one eye on the road ahead of 'em and one eye on the rearview mirror.

You've played the Sings Like Hell series a number of times now. What keeps you coming back? We played it with Alejandro [Escovedo] one time, we played it another time with Kelly Willis, and I think we played it yet another time with The Gourds, so this might be our third or fourth time. I think the theater itself is glorious in its own way. It's a great setting to hear music, and because it's a community thing, I think people are more open-minded in a way. With a series, people get turned onto music that they might not normally be aware of. It's fun in that way.

4·1·1

Chuck Prophet plays the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) this Saturday, February 19, at 8 p.m. with Stephanie Finch & The Company Men. Call 963-0761 or visit singslikehell.com for info.

[ LINK ]

by ALY COMINGORE on February 16, 2011 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

I know it's not exactly the Virgin Mary on toast

SF Gate

Chuck Prophet doing 'London Calling'

San Francisco singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet is fearless. After recording his most recent album, "Let Freedom Ring," in Mexico City in the midst of the swine flu pandemic, he's currently out on the road with fellow local musician Chris Von Sneidern performing the Clash's classic "London Calling" album in its entirety. Their pickup band, Spanish Bombs, plays the Great American Music Hall on Jan. 29, after a brief European tour (a portion of the proceeds from the show will go to the Food Not Bombs organization). We checked in with Prophet recently while the group was making its way across Spain.

Q: You're covering the Clash's "London Calling." The whole thing?

A: Yep. It's crazy. Figured if the Coen brothers can remake "True Grit," why not? So we cast it like a movie. I thought, if Chris von Sneidern will do the Mick Jones bits, I'll do it. I thought I knew the record inside out. It's a lot more words and chords than I remembered. It's like learning Shakespeare.

Q: Do you even have to do the songs you don't like?

A: Oh, yes. I know it's not exactly the Virgin Mary on toast, but we're staying true to the record in that respect. We're not tinkering with the story. We're not changing the ending. We're not changing one comma. But we have changed the grooves under the songs' feet.

Q: Did this idea come about after seeing all the bad `80s cover bands sell out shows week after week while actual singer-songwriters struggle to get gigs?

A: Singer-songwriters inhabit a certain ghetto, for sure. It's not pretty out there. But "London Calling" is nothing to apologize for. Wonky `80s nostalgia or not, it really does remind me of why I got into playing music in the first place.

Q: Do you remember buying the record?

A: I do remember buying it. I originally bought the cassette used at Rasputin's record shop in Pleasant Hill. Listened to it repeatedly. That record is the Rosetta stone of the punk apocalypse. It's all in there. Figure out the language it's written in and you've got the keys to the highway. I was young. My brain was soft. I soaked it up.

Q: Will you be sporting a Mohawk for the occasion?

A: Probably not the most flattering haircut for me. I'm already a bit long in the face, don't you think? I mean, why would I want to open myself up to that kind of ridicule?

Q: Do you remember what happened to Pussy Galore after they covered the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street"? They broke up. How do you plan on breaking up with yourself?

A: I've been duct-taped back together so many times already, what does it matter?

Q: What other classic albums do you think you might take on next?

A: "London Calling" is rare. I doubt I'd ever be tempted to do something like this again, but if I did, I wouldn't pick a double album. {sbox}

To hear Chuck Prophet's music, go to www.chuckprophet.com.

Follow Aidin Vaziri at twitter.com/MusicSF. E-mail him at .

This article appeared on page Q - 34 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/15/PKLC1H5O4Q.DTL#ixzz1BniL7RvO

[ LINK ]

by Aidin Vaziri on January 22, 2011 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles

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We started with the Swine Flu and we ended up with Michael Jackson dead.

El Mundo / La Luna (SP)

The American Dream falling down in ugly chunks

Many people considered Let Freedom Ring! your best album, do you agree?

I wanted a sound, a feel. We went to Mexico City. The studio was small. Not enough room to cuss a cat in there, so we crammed our little four piece in and cranked it up loud enough to hear across the border. Live in the studio, Live'R Than You'll Ever Be. The truth is, it was a struggle. Power outages, fried hard drives, the return of the Black Plague, earthquakes. The American Dream falling down in ugly chunks. It was perfect. Dumb luck, yeah, but it was perfect. It's an American record. Imaginary. We started with the Swine Flu and we ended up with Michael Jackson dead.

December 24, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

“I’m trying not to leave the neighborhood.”

Memphis Appeal

CHUCK PROPHET'S ADVENTURES IN MUSIC-MAKING LEAD BACK TO MEMPHIS

By Bob Mehr

Published Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chuck Prophet

Whether recording in Memphis, Mexico City or various points in between, singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet has always been one to turn the process of making an album into a journey — musical as well as geographic.

The Bay Area-based roots rocker's ninth, latest and arguably finest solo effort, ¡Let Freedom Ring!, was created during a tumultuous 10-day period south of the border that included power outages, natural disasters and pandemics.

"I am definitely attracted to the adventure of making records. It probably comes from watching too many Werner Herzog movies," says Prophet, who plays the Hi-Tone Café on Sunday.

Last year, inspired by the 2008 economic crash and the turbulent international climate, Prophet penned a batch of "political songs for non-political people." He decided to head to Mexico City to make the album, eventually settling on a studio that was "totally state of the art... for 1958," jokes Prophet.

Prophet and his studio band, which included producer/pedal steel player Greg Leisz and former E Street Band drummer Ernest "Boom" Carter, weathered a series of frustrating technical problems during the recording.

Those issues were merely a teaser to the massive earthquake that rocked the region during the sessions, and the explosion of the swine flu epidemic, which practically shut down the country.

The tension and uncertainty of that experience finds its way onto the record with songs like the cutting "Sonny Liston's Blues," and the jagged funk number "Where the Hell Is Henry." Elsewhere, Freedom finds Prophet dialing back on his cut-and-paste cleverness, and dialing up the guitars and backbeat to brilliant effect.

Although it's been four years since Prophet's last appearance in Memphis, he's no stranger to the Bluff City, having been a frequent visitor through the latter part of the 1980s, when he was wielding a guitar for Los Angeles hell-raisers Green on Red.

For Prophet, a student of the twisted legends, dark underbelly and dusty corners of rock history, Memphis proved to be a perfect place to learn.

"We got signed to a label in England and started working with Jim Dickinson," recalls Prophet of the late producer. "We cut some stuff in LA but Jim really encouraged us to come to Memphis. We arrived and basically camped out at the Midtown Holiday Inn."

"At the time," says Prophet, "there weren't a lot of people who really had an awareness or appreciation of the history here and what it meant. I mean, when we worked at Ardent (Studios) we wanted to use the Mellotron that was on (Big Star's) Sister/Lovers album, and they were confused as to why we would even be interested in that."

After the original Green on Red lineup imploded following the release of 1987's The Killer Inside Me, Prophet and singer Dan Stuart continued with the group, returning to Memphis to cut the 1989 classic Here Come the Snakes. "Part of that process was going to Sam Phillips Studio and recording ideas and fragments and songs with Jim and (veteran Phillips' engineer) Roland Janes," says Prophet.

"I remember being in the studio and meeting Roland in the control room and I innocently asked how many tracks we'd be working with. He said, `Well, we've got 16 on a good day.' And then he looked over at the machine and some of the tracks had tape covering the vu meters. `Well, we got 14 today,'" says Prophet, laughing.

For Prophet, making music in Memphis was an experience that was at once concrete and ephemeral. "The thing about the air hanging heavier in Memphis and all that, that's definitely true," he says.

"There are technical things too. In, Memphis the bass drum, the kick drum is a little bit louder. That's a taste thing. They'd didn't go in for things like long fades. It was a classic view. They were classicists in many ways. I mean, Jim was somebody that was into pushing the boundaries. But there was some tradition that always seeped into the way things were done."

Since transitioning into his own solo career in the early-'90s Prophet has indulged a variety of styles, creating a dazzling mix of albums from 1997's dark roots opusHomemade Blood to the funky spaced-out blues of 2007's Soap and Water.

In addition to his own career, Prophet's proved a prolific foil of late having co-written much of fellow roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo past two LPs. Prophet also produced a new album for his wife and bandmate Stephanie Finch.

As Prophet rolls into town, he'll be carrying a little bit of Memphis with him. Local musician Paul "Snowflake" Taylor has been manning the drum kit in his backing group, The Mission Express, since earlier in the year. "He's been a shot in the arm for the band in a lot of ways," says Prophet. "The secret language of rock and roll — he speaks it fluently."

After wrapping his current tour and finishing some commitments overseas early next year (where he'll perform the Clash's London Calling album in its entirety at Spain's Primavera Sound Festival), Prophet plans to start work on a new album.

This time, however, he says he won't be indulging in any far flung adventures. "I'm thinking of making a hometown record, a San Francisco record," says Prophet. "I'm trying not to leave the neighborhood."

Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express, The Jeremy Stanfill Band

9 p.m. Sunday at the Hi-Tone Café, 1913 Poplar Ave. Tickets are $10 and are available in advance at hitonememphis.com. For more information, call 278-86

[ LINK ]

by By Bob Mehr on November 19, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles

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God bless the kid, Prophet joked. He's my meal ticket.

Spinner

Chuck Prophet Takes Portland to 'Bangkok'

Chuck Prophet was already serving up a smoking take on Alex Chilton`s grimy, hiccuped 1978 single `Bangkok' on the road last winter. Now he plays the Memphis legend's "painless lesson in geography" (as Prophet called it Friday night at Portland's Mississippi Studios) in memoriam, five months after Chilton's death.

"I'm still kind of numb about it," Prophet told Spinner. "The thing about Alex is he always did take pretty good care of himself. He was one of the first people I knew that was kind of like health-conscious. It's not the way it's supposed to turn out."

Prophet showed off his triple-threat ability—excellent songwriter, killer lead guitarist, charismatic frontman—in Portland, Ore., with a set that included the 20-year-old songs `Queen Bee' and `Balinese Dancer,' as well as crowd-favorites `Summertime Thing' and `I Bow Down and Pray to Every Woman I See,' both from 2002's `No Other Love.'

There was also a solo acoustic version of the title track from Prophet's current album, `Let Freedom Ring,' and a sweetly soaring version of Alejandro Escovedo`s `Wasn't I Always a Friend to You,' which, like many of the songs on Escovedo's last two records, Prophet co-wrote. It's also one of the tunes Bruce Springsteen played with Escovedo at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park last month. 

"God bless the kid," Prophet joked. "He's my meal ticket."

Prophet also unveiled `Hot Talk,' a "dialogue song" about phone sex. 

"If you are bootlegging this show tonight, I would only hope you show us the courtesy we deserve by including this next song," he told the crowd. "We've been locked out of radio."

[ LINK ]

by Posted on Aug 21st 2010 11:56AM by Jason Cohen on November 18, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Artist Profiles (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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We really took that lifestyle thing as far we could

Cincinnati.Com

No faking Prophet's kind of cool

If you can measure a person's character by the quality of his friends, Chuck Prophet is a lucky man.

The San Francisco singer-songwriter plays the Southgate House in Newport Thursday with one of those friends, Kim Richey. Earlier in the day, they will stop by WNKU-FM (89.7), where music director John Patrick once described Prophet as "the coolest guy we've ever had in here."

Testimonials are nice, but the proof is in the music. Prophet's latest album, "Let Freedom Ring!" is a meditation on our life and times, somewhat inspired by one his heroes.

"It was Hunter S. Thompson who really based his career on the life, death, rebirth and total disappearing of the American dream," Prophet says. "I was interested in that when I started writing songs for this album. I had the window open, and after about two or three songs, I realized that's where I was going."

In addition to his solo projects, Prophet is a trusted collaborator to folks like Richey and Alejandro Escovedo among others. He co-wrote more than half of the songs on Escovedo's 2010 "Street Songs of Love" and partnered on every one on 2008's "Real Animal."

"When we get in a room, we just never run out of things to talk about," Prophet says of Escovedo. "It's like touching two jumper cables together. The songs just kind of spill out of that. To Al's credit, he has the ability to make somebody feel like you've known him your whole life."

Prophet's whole life hasn't been spent basking in a cocoon of critical acclaim. He started living the rock `n' roll lifestyle as a teenager, and fell victim to those temptations. But while he struggled with a drug problem, he also made good music with the band Green on Red, an early acolyte of the country punk sound.

"We really took that lifestyle thing as far we could," he remembers. "We were working with (Memphis musical legend) Jim Dickinson on a record called `The Killer Inside Me,' which kind of split the band, brother vs. brother.

"While we were there, Alex (Chilton of the Box Tops and Big Star) would drop by. ... Big Star was like the Sex Pistols in their own way ... the influence that it had, just like the influence that the Velvet Underground had, Big Star had the same amount of influence."

Spending time with Dickinson (who died last year) and Chilton (who died this year) certainly influenced Prophet, but cool innately knows cool.

"The thing about Alex is ... he was cool. He didn't have to say a lot about (his life and music), and he never did a lot of explaining. There was nothing exaggerated at all. He was the coolest (guy) who ever lived."

Patrick might disagree. "(Prophet) is just cool. You can't fake cool."

[ LINK ]

by B Thompson on November 17, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Interviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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She was unwanted in 17 state

City Pages

She was unwanted in 17 state

Chuck Prophet first came to semi-prominence in the mid-`80s when he joined countrified California rockers Green On Red, and has since pursued a varied career as a singer-songwriter, session man, and producer (Kelly Willis'sTranslated From Love, for instance). His ninth solo album, ¡Let Freedom Ring!, is bar-band rock of a high order: smart, loud, funny, simple, pissed off, but also sentimental in that last-call sort of way. It's also attuned to Great Recession anxiety and passionately pro-underdog (a typical line: "She was unwanted in 17 states"), most notably on the Randy Newman-meets-Tom Verlaine ballad "You and Me Baby (Holding On)," whose backing harmonies and soaring bridge get me every time. With the Mad Ripple. (Photo by Kelly Stoltz

Fri., Oct. 15, 8 p.m., 2010

[ LINK ]

by Dylan Hicks on October 18, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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Prophet stripped away the voltage but not necessarily the rockish electricity

THE WEEK THAT WAS - Chuck Prophet live at Natasha’s

Packed and Potent

Chuck Prophet at Natasha's Bistro: Likening the sold-out, coffeehouse-flavored atmosphere at Natasha's Bistro & Bar to "a PTA meeting," Prophet stripped away the voltage but not necessarily the rockish electricity from his music for his 90- minute solo acoustic performance. Although it was his first Lexington outing without a band, the West Coast songsmith presented what was essentially a rock `n' roll show for a sit-down crowd. And it worked.

Sure, the quieter strides of ballads like Would You Love Me? and Whole Lot More already had enough folkish ingenuity to fit readily into the solo format. Other works opened up enough for Prophet to color them with playful narratives. Before Sister Lost Soul, for instance, Prophet recalled when he and pal Alejandro Escovedo went in search of a recording studio in the aftermath of an Austin, Texas, ice storm ("Where it got cold for, like, 10 minutes"). Then there were the less-than- complimentary remarks about CNN journalist Anderson Cooper that more curiously prefaced You and Me Baby (Holding On). And let's not forget Apology, which Prophet proudly dedicated to Mel Gibson.

But the real riot involved more purposefully rock-directed fare that packed a potent and resourceful wallop even without a band. Among them: Doubter Out of Jesus (All Over You), which revealed a cool yet pensive groove, and I Bow Down and Pray to Every Woman I See, with its sly, Tom Petty-ish framework.

Sure, there were a few songs that really made fans miss the homemade firepower of Prophet's Mission Express band. Diamond Jim, for instance, sounded great, but one couldn't help but yearn for those fat, Kinks-style power chords that the band version possesses.

But hearing a long-lost relic like Lucky recast as a wily acoustic yarn, or the radio hit Summertime Thing as a suitably seasonal sing-a-long? Those were the products of a crafty pop mind that can locate a rock `n' roll vibe in the most unassuming of performance venues.

This was a rock show even the PTA could love.

[ LINK ]

by walter tunis on August 14, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Live Reviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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apologetically pokes fun at his roots

Milwaukee Express

Chuck Prophet Let Freedom Ring (Yep Roc)

Chuck Prophet

Let Freedom Ring (Yep Roc)

By Todd LazarskiAt the heart of hugely underrated singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet's sound there's always been a kind of tug-of-war among disparate eras. In turns Petty-esque, Springsteen-like and generally rife with Stones swagger, there's also an undeniably coy, modern indie slant. Sure there's "Born to Run"-style driving guitars, and even some "shoobie-doo-wop" backing vocals, but, hey, LeBron James gets name-checked too. In fact, Prophet's latest sounds a bit like Franz Ferdinand after an all-night bout of Studs Terkel: old-timey, good times rock, but with a conscience.

Prophet empathizes with the downtrodden ("What Can a Mother Do"), apologetically pokes fun at his roots ("American Man") and seems generally earnest in hopes of a renewal in the Americana from whence he borrows so much of his sound. From jangly country rockers to straight KLH-style distortion, what mostly comes out is a from-the-hip, nostalgic take on the American ennui that was 2009.

The songwriting peaks may be clearest on the introspective tracks—"Leave the Window Open," or the lovely "Love Won't Keep Us Apart"—but as a whole the album feels like something more. It's a sensible, rollicking, perhaps important look at the hard times of the moment.

[ LINK ]

by Todd Lazarski on January 31, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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Prophet is a sharp, never pretentious, lyricist.
********

KC Free Press

Chuck Prophet – Let Freedom Ring

Chuck Prophet -- Let Freedom Ring

photo

Chuck Prophet -- Let Freedom Ring (Yep Roc)

Chuck Prophet began his musical journey as Dan Stuart's foil in Green on Red, an often tremendous band that mixed scabrous garage, Dylan-Velvets poesy, and American roots in cool ways. `Let Freedom Ring" is a good representation of the best in Prophet's solo career. Prophet is a sharp, never pretentious, lyricist. The songs on his new record `Let Freedom Ring" illuminate the current American predicament, wryly capturing the woes of the workaday and the marginalized.

Prophet uses his modest baritone effectively, sounding like Tom Petty after too many drinks and too much sun. A first-rate guitar player, he has much in common with Mike Campbell, Keith Richards, even Richard Thompson. Some of Prophet's records court Americana's banal reserve, but "Let Freedom Ring,' recorded in a funky analogue studio in Mexico City, rocks loose and profits from it. Chuck Prophet isn't reinventing the wheel. He rarely strays from a sound that would engage a savvy Dylan, Petty or Stones fan. With a really good record like "Let Freedom Ring," he makes worthy company for such icons.

Reverberating: 8.2

[ LINK ]

by Steve Wilson on January 30, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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I know I don't have a job, but I'd have to think about whether or not I'm actually making a living.

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Prophet of truth

By JOHN BECK

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 3:00 a.m. 

Last Modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:01 p.m.

When it came time to record a new album, Chuck Prophet packed up his guitars and headed south of the border for a Mexico City studio that was state-of-the-art circa 1958.

The result: "¡Let Freedom Ring!" is one of the most honest snapshots of troubled times to reach listeners in 2009.

From the stark opening riff of "Sonny Liston's Blues" (admittedly a rip-off of The Clash's "London Calling" intro without the morse code) to the striving strum and hum of "Leave the Window Open," it's chock full of heartache, despair and the occasional breath of hope.

The Village Voice called it "a `Born in the U.S.A.' for our time." No Depression christened it "a new American anthem for the post-9/11 world."

The San Francisco folk-rocker with the Tom Petty drawl and the wry sense of humor (2010 resolution: "Start smoking again and stop working out" ), Prophet keeps telling everybody "they're political songs for non-political people."

Two decades after he split with Green on Red, the wide-eyed dreamer who fled Whittier for San Francisco is firmly entrenched as one of the most observant and honest songwriter's songwriter plying the trade today.

Maybe it's because he finally got his "breakthrough hit" out of the way back in 2002 with "Summertime Thing." Or maybe it's because he kicked drugs and alcohol 11 years ago. Or his storied collaborations with Alejandro Escovedo, Cake, Warren Zevon, Jonathan Richman and Lucinda Williams.

Or maybe it's the way he pauses midway through the interview to ponder, "I know I don't have a job, but I'd have to think about whether or not I'm actually making a living."

There's something about Chuck Prophet that begs to be studied.

Before the 46-year-old survivor takes the stage with his wife, keyboardist Stephanie Finch, and the rest of the Mission Express at the Mystic Theatre on Jan. 22, he took time out to talk.

Q: How'd you wind up in Mexico City in the middle of the swine-flu epidemic?

A: Well, we didn't plan the swine-flu part. But I had a batch of songs and I wanted to record them somewhere energized. The whole process of recording these days has gotten so complacent with all this technology being available to so many people. And I just wanted that feeling of recording like your life depended on it. So we got it.

Q: How much of a bonding experience was that with the power going out repeatedly and the mass hysteria going on outside?

A: That was actually cool because every take that you hear on the record there's a sense of triumph at the end. That kind of reminded me of the records I made as a teenager. We'd book a studio, like Hyde Street in the Tenderloin. We used to book the midnight sessions.

Q: How much do you think you paid for that back then?

A: A lot of money actually. Probably like $300. You can still get a lot of studios for $300 today lemme tell you. That's one of the things that hasn't changed. A good gig back in 1985 was $500 and a good gig in 2009 is still $500.

Q: That's your New Year's resolution — to get a $600 gig.

A: Or at least string together a few of them.

Q: Was there a moment in Mexico City when you thought, "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea?"

A: I can't say that I was scared, but there were nights when I was staring at the ceiling, thinking, "Oh boy, what have I done?"

Q: If I throw out a song title, can you tell me what comes to mind?

A: Hopefully.

Q: "Sonny Liston's Blues."

A: To me, he's the perfect analogy for the American dream. He's part reality and part myth — always just out of reach. He had to open the record. There was a myth people had that they were going to be able to comfortably retire and they woke up one morning and realized that reality was not quite what was sold to them.

Q: What about "Barely Exist"?

A: Steve Earle once told me, "It's your job to keep your antennae up and find things that are absurd." For me, the fact that we've spent a billion dollars building a bigger wall around this country and thousands of people die every year coming up from Mexico only for the opportunity to clean our toilets is just absurd.

Q: You haven't been a super-political songwriter over the years, what was it about the issues that got to you this time?

A: Well, I can't really say that this is some kind of battle cry. I'm not really a political guy. But what happened is I just kind of stood back and squinted and realized that all the people in the songs had one thing in common — that they were living in a particularly anxious, raw time. I mean I'm just a photographer. I just kind of shine a light on things.

Q: You're taking snapshots.

A: Yeah, in my own way. I just try to stay as truthful to it as possible.

Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 707-280-8014 or .

[ LINK ]

by John Beck on January 14, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Interviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

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the bleed gives you great depth of field

EQ

Let It Bleed : Recording In A Small Mexico City Studio Helped Chuck Prophet Get Aggressive

When San Francisco guitarist and singer Chuck Prophet set out to record ¡Let Freedom Ring! [Yep Roc] last spring, he assumed a change of environment, specifically Mexico City, would inspire him and add some manic energy to the album. He didn't count on periodic power outages ruining takes at Estudio 19, the oldschool studio he picked to lay down tracks, nor a 6.4 earthquake shaking the building's foundations. And nobody expects a pandemic.

"What I didn't predict was that the swine flu scare would start three days after we arrived," Prophet says. "The CNN paranoia, if you crank that stuff up to 11, makes everybody start to feel a little off. People got itchy. We put on blue masks and had a driver take us to the studio."

Also, according to producer Greg Leisz, Prophet didn't remember how small (roughly 12 feet by 20 feet) the high-ceiling main room was at Estudio 19. Reacting to his last record, Soap and Water, which included sections with arranged strings and a children's choir, Prophet wanted to dial things down. The former member of '80s L.A. cowpunk band Green on Red wanted a light touch and a raw performance. Normally, tight spaces complicate the situation. But with a few deft arrangements of equipment and a willingness to use bleed and leakage to their advantage, the musicians and engineers working on ¡Let Freedom Ring! made it sound both spacious and fully charged.

"People think isolation is the way to go," says Jason Carmer, who engineered the album. "But getting the bleed reinforces the stereo imagery. You can hear the guitars from the perspectives of all the mics in the room. I find that the bleed gives you great depth of field."

The whole album was recorded in one general formation in the main room to help capture a live feel. While there were some guitar overdubs later, and pedal steel and fiddle tracks were laid down separately to add extra color and tone to songs like "What Can a Mother Do," the aim was to capture raw performances.

Electrified opener "Sonny Liston's Blues" was a completely live take. Chuck occupied the right corner. His guitar, usually a Squier Telecaster, which he favors for its simplicity, was plugged into a pedal board and run into an amp, usually a Fender Princeton Reverb or a Vox AC30, which stayed in the main room and was recorded through a RCA 77DX ribbon mic. An Ibanez AD-80 analog delay was sometimes plugged in to provide a vintage slapback feel on some of Prophet's solos. Baffles were then set up to cover his Neumann U 47 vocal mic (run through a GML preamp with a Urei LA-3A compressor), chosen because the rich, warm sound worked well with Prophet's Tom Petty-esque voice.

"Both the mic and Chuck's voice have character, so I wanted to capture that," says Carmer. "It helped deliver the smashing, classic vocals of old records that we were looking for."

Drummer Ernest "Boom" Carter, who played on Springsteen's "Born to Run," set up a borrowed '60s Gretsch drum kit across the room, miked with a mono U 87 placed between the beater and snare that "pulled it all in," according to Carmer, and added a spaciousness to the recording. Guitarist Tom Ayres, bassist Rusty Miller, and Leisz, who occasionally added another guitar line, squeezed in the middle of the room. Their amps were placed in the machine room or lounge, with doors left slightly ajar to capture some bleed. Everything was tracked according to its orientation, says Carmer, which meant they could capture the reflection of the space.

To accentuate the live energy in the room, lots of compression was added to the guitar tracks via Neve 1073s and UA 1176s. It really pricked up the guitar lines snaking through the rave-up "Where the Hell is Henry?"

"The general modus operandi was to go for it and be aggressive," says Carmer. "[Compression] helped give it an authentic feel but also trash it up a bit."

Prophet and others half-jokingly referred to the studio as a state-of-theart room from 1957, and while there's some truth to that, the studio's cache of vintage gear and mics added a lot of character. A vintage Ampeg SVT added powerful reverb, and Carmer especially enjoyed using Pultec EQP- 1As on kick, snare, toms, rooms, guitars, and bass. More importantly, the somewhat cramped space—from the overflowing studio to the courtyard where they'd eat tacos for lunch—gave them a sense of unity of purpose.

"There was so much chaos outside the studio that when we got in there and the power was on and we could lay down a track, there was a certain teenage energy," Prophet says. "It reminded me of being in the studio with my first band."

[ LINK ]

January 8, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Interviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)

the ones who continue to follow his eclectic path were rewarded

A.V. Club

!Let Freedom Ring!

Chuck Prophet's old band, Green On Red, enjoyed a cult following in the '80s and early '90s, and the same can be said of the solo career he's maintained since 1990. The San Francisco songwriter may not have tons of fans, but the ones who continue to follow his eclectic path were rewarded with 2007's Soap And Water and the recent Let Freedom Ring, an album title that's meant to be taken with a grain of salt, given its protest-as-patriotism lyrics.

[ LINK ]

January 8, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under CD Reviews

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