Tag Archive | "Chuck Prophet"

Chuck Prophet – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (February 19, 2017)

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Chuck Prophet – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (February 19, 2017)

Posted on 21 February 2017 by John Haylock

Lip smackin’, hip shakin’, speaker bustin’, rock ‘n’ roll motivatin’, soulsavin’, jive talkin’, fancy shoe wearin’, heart liftin’, mind driftin’, string bendin’, mind sendin’, foot tappin’, hand clappin’… ladies and gentlemen I give you the hardest working man in showbusines – Mr Charles William ‘Chuck’ Prophet.

Fresh from an unexpected appearance on daytime TV politics programme, The Andrew Marr Show, Chuck and his band The Mission Express are here in the UK to save your ragged arse souls and light your blue touch paper.

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They are also promoting their excellent new album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, named after the cult 1960s rock ‘n’ roller. This is Chuck’s umpteenth release or is it fifteenth (I cant quite remember)? It’s fantastic obviously.

Since the break up of the band that made his name, the legends that were Green on Red, Chuck has ploughed the fields of rock ‘n’ roll for you, unearthing musical nuggets and groovy tunes along the way. With Stephanie Finch on keyboards, vocals and inspiration, always there as his constant muse, they travel the globe with a never less than amazing band of musicians to deliver high-octane, crowd-friendly boogie.

They are the tightest but loosest gang of motherfuckers this side of Bobby Fuller’s gravestone.

A roll call of finest moments unfolds including We Got Up and Played, In The Mausoleum and Wish Me Luck, which included a sit down chat with the audience.

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Crowd favourite Temple Beautiful goes down a storm, then there’s the irresistable You Did ( Bomp-Shooby Dooby-Bomp) complete with a heart stopping guitar solo.

There’s also choice cuts from the new album, including the title track,  Jesus was a Social Drinker and a tearing up the place Bad Year for Rock ‘n’ Roll.

He even finds time for a Leonard Cohen cover Iodene, from Death of a Ladies Man and a nod to the Bobby Fuller Four themselves with a cover of Let Her Dance.

Two very exciting sweaty hours of rootsy blues sounding like it was fed through torn speaker cabinets and delivered by a band so cool you could almost forgive Americans voting for Trump (but not quite).

We stayed till Chucking out time. Boom and indeed boom.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Chuck Prophet – The Maze, Nottingham (May 31, 2015)

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Chuck Prophet – The Maze, Nottingham (May 31, 2015)

Posted on 02 June 2015 by Joe

Mention Gas, Food And Lodgings, Green on Red’s 1988 album to any self respecting music fan and they’ll wet themselves with glee. It’s the best of a handful of their classic grizzly rock ‘n’ roll albums from back in the day, made by two legends of latter day Americana, Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet.

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet

Dan’s current recording career is pretty subdued, he appears to have checked himself out of the music business hotel with only a couple of solo albums since their split in 1992. But Chuck on the other hand has been super busy ever since, continuing to regularly put out new material and tour.

For his latest visit to the UK he is showcasing tracks from his 13th studio album Night Surfer, which is full of snarly blues rock and gritty, anthemic tales.

The Maze in Nottingham is a a small room in the back of a pub and it’s heaving, it’s hot, the beer is flowing, and everyone is jostling for a good vantage point, so what better way to get us all warmed up and ready to expend copious amounts of sweat than some wordy acoustic action from tonight’s support band the Oxford based and frighteningly talented Dreaming Spires. They usually perform as a three piece power pop trio but sadly the drummer is absent tonight so it’s a slimmed down almost acoustic set. Brothers Robin and Joe Bennett turn in a short set that even has time for a super version of one of Springsteen’s achingly beautiful songs Atlantic City.

They also do the title track from their new album Searching for the Supertruth and best of all is a couple of tracks from their debut album Brothers in Brooklyn, Everything All The Time and the clever lyrical observations of that album’s title track.

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet takes the stage at nine, with his ultra cool band including his wife Stephanie Finch on keyboards, guitars and vocals. There’s no messing and immediately Chuck is in the zone, grinning and stomping like a man possessed, giving us the evil eye and peeling off paint stripping guitar solos that would have made the late Stevie Ray Vaughan weep with joy.There’s just no filler. Countrified Inner city Technological Man, Sonny Liston’s Blues and especially Ford Econoline hit you in the face like a rock ‘n’ roll boxing glove

The band take it down a notch so as to allow Stephanie to shine on the innocently sweet versions of Queen Bee and Tina Goodbye, then the stomp returns with some hearty call and response on Temple Beautiful. Then there’s a ripping solo at the conclusion of Summertime Thing, with Chuck walking into the audience and literally staring me in the eyes as he struts his stuff. There’s much humourous between song banter as he talks of his bemusement of cricket and mentions the D word (Derby) which aroused much hissing; we don’t mention that place down here.

Finally, he warns any old timers that the next song is really heavy and will probably have a detrimental effect on the elderly in the crowd and that it might be a good time to leave if you have a heart condition. He then proceeds to blast out the crazy-doolally-singalong You Did (bomp shooby dooby bomp) much to everyone’ s delight. Absolutely bloody awesome.

It’s nights like these that you know the rock ‘n’ roll flame will never go out. This is not just good music, it’s kind of a religious thing and we went to big church. Hell yeah, brothers and sisters! Hell yeah!

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Chuck Prophet  – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (April 28, 2013)

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Chuck Prophet – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (April 28, 2013)

Posted on 30 April 2013 by Joe

Californian underground legend  Chuck sure has paid his dues and his autobiography, should he ever write one, would be a riveting read; after three decades on the road he could give even Keef  Richards a run for his money.

He first  came to prominence in the 1980s when together with Dan Stuart they were the heartbeat of Green On Red, a hard drinking, hard rockin’ blues based boogie band. They were a magnificently ragged vision of rock n roll excess, kind of like The Rolling Stones but on a Primark budget  as they cut a healthy legacy of eight albums  before going their separate ways in the early 1990s.

Chuck Prophet (left)

Chuck Prophet (left)

Since that time Chuck has raised hell with a who’s who of contemporary music. He released the first of his at least twelve solo records in 1990, since which time he has worked as a sideman or session musician with many artists, including Kelly Willis, Aimee Mann, the late, great Warren Zevon, Jonathan Richman, Lucinda Williams and Cake. His compositions have been recorded by musicians like Alejandro Escovedo, Solomon Burke, Heart, Kim Carnes, Peter Wolf, Kim Richey, Chris Knight and Kelly Willis.

His latest band for his latest tour of the UK are The Mission Express, an ultra impressive  bunch of killer musicians  who expertly flesh out his songs with instinctive muscle and aplomb.

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With a new(ish) album out on Yep Roc, Temple beautiful, the band fire up first time and Chuck and the gang proceed to give us a set of Springsteenesque proportions. He didn’t have a set list, more like a small novel.

Highlights included, Doubter Out Of Jesus, an absolutely riotous You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp),  The Left Hand And The Right Hand (dedicated he said ‘to brothers everywhere, especially Liam and Noel’) and magnificent versions of White Night Big City and Who Shot John. All were glorious, and boy can he play the guitar, punctuating these bluesy tunes with economically violent solos pitched somewhere between Neil Young and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Man, he was grinning like a Cheshire cat; he was so in the zone it was contagious.

Stephanie Finch and Chuck Prophet

Stephanie Finch and Chuck Prophet

His current band are so hot you get radiation burns. On additional guitar there’s the young, skinny cool as fuck, James De Prato, on bass there’s Kevin White, a big guy with rock solid written through his body, on drums, Todd Roper, a rhythmic man machine and on Chucks right we have his wife,  Stephanie Finch who plays keyboards, acoustic guitar  and sings mighty fine country gurl vocals.

Not content with playing two  hours of primal rock ‘n’ roll, Chuck throws in some utterly brilliant covers. ‘Sorrow’, the old Mcoys tune and the one that Bowie is so associated with from ‘Pin ups’ gets a good kicking as does the classic mid seventies powerpop equivalent  of the Mona Lisa ‘Shake Some Action’ by The Flamin Groovies. The encore includes Chuck Berry’s ‘Tulane’ and most movingly and surprisingly he rips up Dr Feelgood’s She Does It Right.

What a night, and there’s still some UK dates left on the current tour, go to Chuck church, raise up thine eyes and praise him …..Hallelujah brothers and sisters ! Hallelujah !

By John Haylock, pics by Arthur Hughes.

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Chuck Prophet – Temple Beautiful

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Chuck Prophet – Temple Beautiful

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Dorian

Temple Beautiful is former Green On Red guitarist Chuck Prophet’s twelfth solo outing, and his first since his tour playing The Clash classic London Calling in 2011. I mention that because the spirit of The Clash seems to have infected his musical outlook on this album, and made for one of his best recordings to date.

Chuck Prophet Temple Beautiful
The first three tracks are amongst the best songs he has written and as good an opening section as on any album I’ve heard this year. ‘Play That Song Again’ is all chunky guitar riffs and a hugely catchy chorus, ‘Castro Halloween’ adds a new colour to his musical palette sounding like The Posies or a bluesier Teenage Fanclub. The title track ‘Temple Beautiful’ has the most obvious Clash sound, punky riffs and sax, think Tom Petty playing ‘Brand New Cadillac’.

Tom Petty and Bob Dylan are two names that come to mind when you hear Prophet’s have spoken drawling singing voice, an acquired taste but sounding more natural here than on some of his earlier recordings.

Things slow down a little from this point on in the album, and in general we are in familiar Chuck Prophet territory as he plays a range of blues influenced country rockers and ballads. This isn’t a particularly original album musically, Prophet wears his love of classic rock and roll sounds on his sleeve, but I struggle to think of another artist who is playing music like this any better than him.

The album is rooted in San Francisco, recorded there with local musicians and a range of local characters in the lyrics. Most of the references went straight over my head, but that doesn’t make Prophet’s warm story filled lyrics any less interesting. He has always been a good lyricist, but his clear passion for the subjects here seems to have lifted his lyrics up to another level and make this a very rich album that rewards subsequent listens.

The arrangements of the songs are great, and Prophet has assembled a high quality band that matches his own guitar playing, ‘I felt Like Jesus’ is a good demonstration of this with guitar, piano, drums and bass all fighting for space. The production is superb and producer Brad Jones is unfussy enough to let the rootsier and rougher elements of the playing stand out whilst still giving the album a big clear sound.

Prophet is a superb guitar player, and the playing here is typically excellent throughout, a range of guitar styles ring out and the riffs are big and complex. One disappointment, and something that has been true on most of his solo albums, is Prophet’s seeming reluctance to really let rip. Anyone who was lucky enough to see him play with Green On Red will remember the excellence of his extended guitar solos, and his desire to tear it up at any opportunity. We get moments of guitar pyrotechnics, the end of ‘Who Shot John’ and the excellent last section of ‘Willie Mays Is Up At Bat’ (a Thin Lizzy style dual guitar solo no less) but when the guitar playing is this good you want to hear more.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

See also: Top Ten Guitarists (That Don’t Often Make Top Ten Guitarists Lists)

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Chuck Prophet and the Spanish Bombs (Bristol, Polish Club, 22/7/11)

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Chuck Prophet and the Spanish Bombs (Bristol, Polish Club, 22/7/11)

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Joe

Former Green on Red guitarist Chuck Prophet’s decision to assemble some of San Francisco’s best musicians to perform The Clash’s London Calling is pretty brave.

The 1979 album that heralded The Clash’s rise from punk band to one of Britain’s best rock groups is just about perfect as it is in the way it blends punk, rock, reggae and even jazz. What on earth can anyone, even a man of Prophet’s skill, add to an album that we recently named the top alternative album of all time?

Catching Chuck Prophet and the Spanish Bombs set at the low key, friendly  and packed Polish Club in Bristol I felt assured  that the band, which features members of The Park and unheralded power pop songwriter Chris Von Sneidern, would at the very worst produce a competent tribute show.

Thankfully they offered so much more  as a key reason for touring the album was not just to belt out some Clash songs but to revisit the tracks and  draw out the American culture that so influenced it.

Written in part during The Clash’s visits to the US in the late 1970s the album is in many ways a classic US rock album.  For example the cover of Vince Taylor’s 12 bar blues track from 1959  ‘Brand New Cadillac’, the references to Hollywood stars like Montgomery Clift (‘The Right Profile’)and even the American murderer Stagger Lee, on a cover of The Rulers ‘Wrong em Boyo’ were a world away from the west London landscape that features on some of London Calling and especially their self titled  debut album.

For those unfamiliar with the album they witnessed a passionate performance by one of Neonfiller.com’s  Top Ten guitarists of all time. Those that know the album well, and judging by the largely 40 to 60 year old audience that was the majority,  appreciated the changes  Prophet brought to the album.

The most notable difference was to strip away the reggae and Jamaican influences. This transformed ‘Guns of Brixton’ into a fast paced rock song. This ethos also placed rock firmly back into ‘Revolution Rock’.

With the Jamaican swagger discarded ‘ Wrong Em Boyo’ could be  belted out full throttle. The encore of The Clash single ‘Bank Robber’ was another that free from the slow reggae bass line became a fast paced rock track. All were magnificent and given a new lease of life.

‘Brand New Cadillac’ was among many highlights, with Prophet getting so excited he broke his D string mid way and used the opening jam by the band through Jimmy Jazz to change strings.

Less effective was the track ‘London Calling’. It’s so iconic, so British sounding, that even Prophet couldn’t repatriate it. Nevertheless the band still did it justice.

Throughout the gig Prophet’s humour, including inviting the whole audience back to the band’s hotel and chastising then ironically praising the UK for failing to join the Euro, kept this hour and a half set alive. Von Sneidern, who provided the support act, also deserves credit for handling the Mick Jones vocal parts well, especially my favourite on the album ‘Lost in the Supermarket’, written by Strummer about Jones’s tower block childhood.

For The Clash fans present this was also a very special night with the band’s former road manager Johnny Green introducing the Spanish Bombs  with anecdotes from the time about how London Calling was recorded and the influence that the US had on it.

The Bristol location also gave the night an added sparkle. The Clash’s Joe Strummer spent the last years of his life in Bridgwater, just a few miles down the motorway. Some of those there had met him and clearly felt an extra special connection with the music and Strummer due to this.

One couple I spoke to were due to meet Strummer at a party held by a mutual friend on 22 December 2002. Strummer never showed up as he suffered a fatal heart attack that night just before he was due to head out.

If he was still alive I’m almost certain Strummer, who never denied the huge influence America had on his music, would have made the short trip up the M5 to see what Prophet had done to his masterpiece.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

See Also: Top Ten Guitarists (featuring Chuck Prophet)

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