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February 24, 2012 / jhsaeger

Chuck Prophet Puts On Guitar Clinic With Temple Beautiful

    California singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet has had a history of creating terrific music since his time with Green on Red in the 1980’s. The 48-year old Prophet did not disappoint with his most recent LP, Temple Beautiful, one of the best guitar-driven records to be released so far this year. Penned as a tribute to San Francisco, Temple Beautiful contains a truly amazing array of guitar styles that complement Prophet’s usually astute songwriting without saturating the record with licks. Each song uses different styles, from riff rock and 1950’s distortion to tastefully executed melodic solos.
   Temple Beautiful’s guitar carousel is introduced by a Vines-like riff on the lead track, “Play That Song Again,” before sinking into the melodic masterpiece, “Castro Halloween.” Other great guitar parts on the record include the melting solos of “Who Shot John,” a Petty-esque “Temple Beautiful,” and the goofy “White Night, Big City.”
   It would be a mistake to regard Temple Beautiful as just a showcase for Prophet’s guitar playing, however, as his songwriting and able backing band were on par as well. Prophet’s band, The Mission Express, which includes his wife Stephanie Finch, served as the perfect compliment to Prophet’s virtuosity. As for Prophet’s songwriting, the album contains several killer lyrics – but it is hard to ignore a witty line like “Play That Song Again’s” – “you go fight the power, I’m fighting off a cold.”
   One of Prophet’s best songs was his nod to San Francisco culture in “Willie Mays Is Up To Bat.” The song’s premise, surrounding the baseball legend with several events of 1964 – “while over in the Tonkin Gulf, the navy took a hit or so it seemed” – brings a terrific dose of the time period as the centerfielder strolls to the plate with the bases loaded. Of all the song’s on Temple Beautiful, “Willie Mays” has the most boggling riffs, as Prophet invokes several different methods of ax-welding, including mixing in parts with Link Wray-style distortion.
   A terrific record that a ton of attention, Temple Beautiful is available as a digital download, CD, and vinyl. The CD contains a coupon with a download code for bonus material from Yep Roc Records.

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