By Barry Wright CHUCK Prophet, the ex-Green On Red guitarist, singer and songwriter has come a long way from his first recording session at Hyde Street Studio in San Francisco.
His tenure with the psychedelic, Americana and Paisley Underground main players Green On Red saw him and band founder Dan Stuart releasing six albums between 1985 and 1992, including the classic and genre-defining Gas Food, Lodging.
When the band folded, Prophet and Stuart went their separate ways, although by that time Chuck had already released Brother Aldo, the first of his, to date, 14 solo efforts.
Throughout these years Chuck Prophet’s sound has always oscillated somewhere within the vast Americana/ roots rock framework.
Sometimes it has been rockier, other times with more acoustic leanings, the occasional use of keyboards or modern electronic technology, but the guitar has always been at the core of Chuck’s musical philosophy.
Not the guitar in a Jimi Hendrix/ Stevie Ray Vaughan type of solo-filled environment, just the essential and trademark sound that it creates.
Vocally, Chuck Prophet has a voice that at best can be described as having leanings towards the late-great Tom Petty with hints of Ian Hunter.
His latest release, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins (2017) is arguably the pinnacle of his already strong career.
Backed by The Mission Express - featuring his wife, Stephanie Finch (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Kevin White (bass), Vicente Rodriguez (drums, vocals) and James DePrato (guitar) - the album quite rightly received good/glowing reviews for Prophet’s wry songwriting, the richness of his voice and the strength of the melodies.
Prophet describes the album as ‘California Noir’.
He said: “The state has always represented the Golden Dream, and it’s the tension between romance and reality that lurks underneath the surface in all noir films and paperbacks, and that connects these songs. Doomed love, inconsolable loneliness, rags to riches to rags again and fast-paced violence are always on the menu on the Left Coast.”
The 13-song offering boasts tunes covering the complete smorgasbord of rootsy rock.
Firstly let us clear up who Bobby Fuller is, for which we will once again quote Prophet: “He’s the star of the ultimate Rock and Roll Babylon feel-bad story.”
An American rock singer, songwriter and guitarist best known for his cover of I Fought the Law who, in 1966 at the age of 23, was mysteriously found dead in a car parked outside his Hollywood apartment. To this date it is still unclear if Fuller died as the result of suicide, murder or an accident.
Fuller has been described as being ‘a greaser in a world of Beach Boy bangs and Beatle boots, hopelessly out of step with the times’.
Essentially this is a great album and good learning exercise for many young wannabes out there: music made by a music lover, who just happens to be articulate, has a good turn of phrase and on this offering a blinding ear for a catchy melody.
I would recommend listening to all of the Green On Red albums you can get hold of and then wandering through Chuck’s back catalogue.
However do not take too much time doing so as Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express are playing at the Sala Stereo in Alicante tomorrow (Saturday, November 11).
Incidentally, although our man has come a long way since his first recording session at Hyde Street Studio in San Francisco, this is where he returned to record Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins. It may have been a long strange trip… but it was well worth the effort.
Making the concert even more tempting is the fact that support act Curse of Lono - who refer to their music as cinematic Southern, gothic, alt-rock - are getting blistering reviews for their debut album, Severed.
This definitely makes the €17 admission price a real ‘two for the price of one’ deal.