Chuck Prophet – Temple Beautiful (2012) review

January 31, 2013

Chuck Prophet – Temple Beautiful (2012) review

For my way of thinking, there are only
three records that are about cities, the life in those cities, the culture, the
times, the excesses, the joy, the sorrow, and the dark mysterious edges … the
first being the early work by The Velvet
, the second was L.A. Woman, by The Doors, and the third is this
brilliant outing regarding the city of San Francisco, and hometown of Chuck
opens with, or rather busts on the scene
with “Play That Song Again,” an AM Radio killer hit, if there still was such a
thing, delivering a perfect mixture of hooks and attitude, sending Chuck’s
telecaster front and center, where he takes it all to the wall in a no nonsense
bare knuckles style that’ll have your hand reaching out to turn up the volume
before you’re even aware of it. 
Prophet’s lyrics dance between Kerouac’s “On The Road,” and a flashy
Dylanesque banter, filled with free association, bigger than life epic
characters, lofty aspirations, discovery, and enough homages to spin your head around.  But he doesn’t stop there, he graciously
channels Ray Davies al-la Muswell
, and Jonathan Richmond, effortlessly stripping it all down
without sounding frozen or clichéd … and I haven’t even gotten to the John
Lennon “How Do You Sleep” chord changes on “Emperor Norton.”
Just wrap your ears around “Who Shot John,”
an unexpected updated remake of “Hey Joe,” a song that’s filled with sundown
shadows, drifting lyrics, haunting melodies, and drenched with shimmering
guitars.  Others have waved off Temple Beautiful, claiming that it
runs out of gas at the end, but they don’t get it, Chuck’s not running out of
gas, he’s winding down, stepping back even further into his rich musical
history, serving up “Little Girl, Little Boy” with 1950’s flavors, and
featuring his wife Stephanie Finch on backing vocals, delivering codeine cough
syrup laced harmonies that are full, rich, and subtle all at the same time …
like dollar bills caught on a breeze, blowing down the street, completely
unexpected, beautiful, and highly prized.
And that that pretty much sums up this
album … it’s highly prized.

Review made by Jenell Kesler/2013
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