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Let Freedom Ring


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The studio was state-of-the-art...for 1957. Surgical masks were as common as sunglasses. Earthquakes shook the streets. This was Mexico City, 2009, the city that was the muse for Chuck Prophet s new album ¡Let Freedom Ring! Needing a vantage point outside his home country to make what he calls, ''a political album for non-political people,'' Chuck and his band found themselves at the epicenter of the biggest pandemic scare of the new century. Swine flu was in the air literally and figuratively yet underneath the paranoia of H1N1 lay something more, something even larger. A cultural sea change was stirring. Brought on by the democratizing power of the internet, traditionally poverty stricken youth all over Mexico City were being exposed rapid-fire to music and art that had always been hidden from them. Inspired by this renaissance ¡Let Freedom Ring! billows with primal color and sound, evidenced by Prophet s return to the direct ''two guitars, bass and drums'' rock music of his past. On one hand a song cycle about breaking up but keeping it together, and on the other a political mission statement of hope, ¡Let Freedom Ring! doesn t incorporate the music of Mexico but instead imbibes its spirit and swims in its soul. Purposeful and rippling with rock sinew, this is Chuck Prophet 3.0.

Review

Chuck Prophet's ¡Let Freedom Ring! is a Born in the U.S.A. for our time. Not that the Californian troubadour and self-described ''hustler'' behind this 25th-anniversary update of Bruce Springsteen's ode to the irony of the American Dream deliberately set out to cop the Boss's monumental mojo, but the similarities between the two records are uncanny. Both are concept albums of sorts that manifest patriotism through disenchantment, and both rely heavily on marginalized characters to expose socioeconomic woe.

''I've been saying they're political songs for non-political people,'' Prophet explains over the phone from his San Francisco home. ''But what I really mean is that I'm not a particularly political person, but the characters in these songs are all living in a kind of anxious time.''

¡LFR!'s title track a nod not to the Liberty Bell but to the NYSE exemplifies that anxiety through retirement-plan decimation. The buoyant, power-pop music deceptively suggests a feel-good anthem, but once the lyrics unfold, a Social Darwinistic tale is told, of Bernie Madoffs leeching off Average Joes ''The hawk cripples the dove,'' as Prophet puts it who reduce their victims to blind-drunk poor boys. Elsewhere, ''Barely Exist'' continues the Springsteen parallel, with Prophet replacing the Boss's struggling blue-collar worker with a struggling Mexican immigrant. Over a fragile beat and sparse guitar notes, he sums up the day laborer's plight: ''You gotta be strong/But when you got asbestos in your Kool-Aid for breakfast/There's no good way to look alive.''

''I think we go too far out of our way to define ourselves by our borders,'' Prophet says. ''Hundreds of people die every year trying to get into this country, just for the opportunity to clean our toilets and change our babies' diapers, and if it's somebody who's just trying to provide for their family, how can you criminalize that? And, really, isn't that the least of our problems right about now?''

The beauty of ¡LFR! lies in its raw, no-frills approach. Lightning-rod guitars spark a combustible rhythm section. Songs of radio-friendly length emerge from only a couple of live takes. Down-tempo and uptempo numbers play well in the same sandbox. Witty lyrics with rich imagery it's hard to shake ''By the time her shoes wore out/She was giving blood'' from ''What Can a Mother Do'' demonstrate a mastery of language, like the rock 'n' roll equivalent of folkie Todd Snider as delivered through Tom Petty's voice were it even more reliant on stoner/surfer cadences. Other gems include ''Sonny Liston's Blues,'' a riff on the monstrous former boxing champ's loss to Muhammad Ali as symbolic of good over evil (replete with air-guitar-inspiring passages on a Gretsch that Prophet says was ''strung up heavy''), and ''Where the Hell Is Henry?,'' a 2'17'' identity-theft gut punch about a con artist masquerading as a Kennedy.

Prophet recorded ¡LFR! his ninth solo album in a career better known for its songwriting and producing contributions to the oeuvres of Alejandro Escovedo, Kelly Willis, and Warren Zevon, among others in Mexico City, in a state-of-the-art (circa 1957) studio. The conditions were less than ideal (swine-flu mania, earthquakes, drug wars on the periphery), but Prophet says the duress made a band out of the ragtag crew. ''One thing I could never have predicted is that in Mexico City, the power goes out, like, five times a day,'' he says. ''And, of course, every time it would go out, it would be in the middle of a completely magical sort of Marquee Moon moment. And so every take you hear on the record, there's, like, triumph at the end of it.'' --The Village Voice

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Sonny Liston's Blues 3:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. What Can A Mother Do 3:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Where The Hell Is Henry? 2:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. ¡Let Freedom Ring! 3:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. You And Me Baby (Holding On) 3:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. American Man 3:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Barely Exist 5:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Hot Talk 4:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Love Won't Keep Us Apart 3:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Good Time Crowd 3:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Leave The Window Open 3:26$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 27, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Yep Roc Records
  • ASIN: B002NACYIG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,211 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Starhead on October 27, 2009
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I'll admit up front that I'm a huge Chuck Prophet fan. He's an incredible guitarist, songwriter, singer and performer with some great albums under his belt. I've only had one chance to listen so far, so I can't rate it a classic yet, but it might get there. Chuck and his band have left the gimmicks and the hip hop bleeps and blips and samples behind and and returned to what he does best, solid songs with great lyrics and rippin' Telecaster.
Check it out... this man and his band should be huge stars, but lucky for those of us in the know we can check him out in tiny little venues where we have to dodge bandsweat. Go see 'em! And download this, legally!
OK... after a few more listens I'm upgrading to 5 stars. I think it's Chuck's best since the Feast of Hearts and Balinese Dancer days...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Kolaga on January 10, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first got into Chuck Prophet a few years ago after hearing "No Other Love" and then the CD "Soap and Water." Although I tend not to gravitate to music in the classic rock vein, I find the humor and humanity in Chuck Prophet's music very distinctive and compelling.

I have loved this CD since first hearing the first tune, "Sonny Liston's Blues." I think the majority of these tunes are great and I've listened to them alot over the past 3 months. Personal favs include the ballad "Love Won't Keep Us Apart," the 80s rock song "Hot Talk," "American Man," "Keep the Window Open" and "Holding On." Oh wait, that's most of the disk!

I love the clean production of this whole, Tom Petty-esque affair and the political tinge of some of the songs. Don't worry though: It's not political in a bad way and doesn't interfere with the quality and rawkin' quality of the songs themselves.

While I think this CD falls short of a masterpiece, it's pretty dang close. I'll give it a four and a half and I mean that in a very good way.

One of my favorite releases of 2009. I think Chuck's one of the coolest guys around and, with this CD, I hope he gets his full due.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bartholomew on May 22, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Chuck Prophet makes great albums. He makes albums for adults without ever forgetting what rock and roll is all about; and, make no mistake, this is a rockin' album. His studio chops are impeccable. He plays and sings beautifully, and chooses well when it comes to accompanying players and singers. He always finds a way to add a twist, to find a new angle for his lyrics or a new sonic touch that surprises you and keeps things interesting. But it is the quality of his writing that is truly notable. Even when the arrangements are fairly stripped-down, like they are on this set of songs, the playing grabs you and the songs shine. I have yet to be disappointed by Chuck Prophet, and this CD is no exception.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nova137 on December 13, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I am new to Chuck Prophet and am now a fan. I love this work because, personally, it was unexpectedly good. The music is tight and Chuck sings in a manner something like a cross between singing and talking (something like Dylan with a ratio of singing to talking greater than 1.000). I think he sings this way because he is telling a story, not just singing a song. His voice, like his music doesn't come accross as mainstream, but unique and innovative. You can tell he loves what he does and is in it for the process of living the life of a musician, not a rock star.

Sonny Liston's Blues: Great guitar blues done right.

What Can a Mother Do: Great fiddle and slide steel guitar. A quieter song. Yearning of mothers for their kids gone astray.

Where The Hell Is Henry?: Upbeat tempo. Comforting guitar rhythm.

Let Freedom Ring: Title track is a "countryish" number. A statement of the times.

You And Me Baby (Holding On): My favorite of the album is a slowed down bluesy number that has a singing to talking ratio form of vocals < 1.000. The emotion in his voice comes through strongly in this one.

American Man: My least favorite so far. Fairly unimaginative effort. The backing vocals, clapping and guitar rhythms almost save this one but its still too much of a copy from the vault of Tom Petty (love Petty, but not Prophet doing Petty in this one).

Barely Exist: Great song. Great story well told.

Hot Talk: Toe tapper. You can hear all of Prophet's influences from Joe Jackson to Tom Petty, but its all Prophet here. My wife bought the album for this one. This is another fine effort on a fine album.

Love Won't Keep Us Apart: Great modern love song mixed with modern and ancient metaphors.
Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By soupy on December 18, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Everyone that likes rock, alternative, blues, indie, etc. should do themselves a favor and get this new cd by Chuck. He is truly an amazing musician and quite original.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Northuis on December 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have turned a number of people on to Chuck's music via a compilation disk of cuts made from his previous 4 albums,The Hurting Business-Soap and Water. Everyone that hears it seem to have the same response-"Holy crap (!), why haven't I heard of this guy before?".
His music is based on classic rock and soul styles with forays into hip hop, funk,
pop and whatever fits. That is not to say you have heard it all before, he has a unique take on these classic styles and mixes genres in unexpected ways. He sings like an urban hipster and his lyrics are always poignant and direct. In a world of poseurs he is the real MCfarging deal.
When I first heard Let Freedom Ring I thought it was the most boring album of his career, too many by-the-numbers rockers like you hear on any AOR radio station.
But with repeated listenings some gems started to stand out-You And Me Baby (Holding On), Hot Talk and Good Time Crowd. Now I like pretty much the whole disk
but it is still not my fave. If you are a fan this won't dissapoint but if you are new to Mr. Prophet I suggest either Soap And Water or The Hurting Business as starting points, Soap... is the more upbeat of the two and Hurting... is deep and dark(my Fave).
Now if he could only get Ry Cooder, Nicky Hopkins and Mick Taylor to record with him....
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