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Temple Beautiful

February 7, 2012 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: February 7, 2012
  • Release Date: February 7, 2012
  • Label: Yep Roc Records
  • Copyright: 2012 (((belle sound)))
  • Total Length: 42:38
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B006OD0YG2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,509 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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In the early 80's, the west coast began to rock once more. The Blasters, Los Lobos, X, and even the cow punk of Rank And File and Lone Justice. Also part of this resurgent movement on the west coast was a lesser known band, Green On Red. Their Gas, Food, Lodging, remains essential and its release coincided with the introduction of Chuck Prophet into the band. After leaving Green On Red, Prophet started releasing solo albums to much critical praise and, of course, little wide-spread acceptance by the general public.

Given the nature of the music business these days, general acceptance is probably not in the cards. Still, this album has the feel, after several listenings, to be as strong, and real, as Gas, Food, Lodging. While it is billed as a "song cycle" about Prophet's native San Francisco, the real story, at least for me, is the music, which represents the ethic of the east coast more than the west coast. The obvious influence is Lou Reed in the Velvet Underground days. But you can hear the New York Dolls here too, as well as Phil Spector (who was NYC even though he recorded on the west coast) and there's a terrific tip of the hat to Buddy Holly too. And, like Holly, Reed, The Dolls and Spector, Prophet largely adheres to the classic Brill Building song structure and classic pop album length at 42:38 minutes.

So, if you are a Chuck Prophet fan, purchase without fear of disappointment. If you aren't yet a Chuck Prophet fan and you are looking to expand your musical horizons, you will no doubt profit from giving this disc a spin, most likely, over and over again.

Note: See comment No. 3 for information from Chuck Prophet on the background for the songs.
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"It takes years of practice to sound this spontaneous..."

Not sure if I read that somewhere or if it's an original, but it perfectly sums up the peak Chuck Prophet has reached at this point in his career. Temple Beautiful is a concept album of sorts - a tribute to Chuck's adopted home city of San Francisco - but no concept album I have heard wears the mantle more lightly than this one.

Above anything else, it's a great collection of songs, peerlessly played, from the pounding opener to the beautifully reflective closing song, `Emperor Norton in the Last Year of his Life (1880)'. Along the way, we get some great rockers like `Castro Halloween' (Chuck continuing the trend from his last studio album, letting loose on guitar and capturing some of the energy of his live show), the title track, with guest vocal contributions from Roy Loney of the Flamin' Groovies, which ends up sounding like Aladdin Sane is having his skinny ass kicked around the bandstand, and `White Night, Big City'. The latter is a moving tribute to gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, victims of a senseless shooting in 1978. The deadpan vocal, and eerie call and response at the climax, only make the song more devastating. Best of all (for this fan) is `Who Shot John', Chuck and lyricist klipschutz's hybrid take on Hey Joe/Down by the River, one of Chuck's coolest vocal tracks ever laid down embedded in spiky, paranoid guitars.

Great tunes, endlessly quotable lyrics and outstanding musicianship (listen out for James DePrato's slide lines all over the place and Stephanie Finch's angelic tones on `Red Man Speaks'). A confident vote for album of the year, and it's only March...
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"Temple Beautiful" is already among my and probably many people's leading contenders for 2012 album of the year, and Chuck Prophet has done this fairly regularly in his quarter-century long career, not to even mention what a great guitarist and entertaining live performer he is. Here's the irony: Hardly anyone has heard of Chuck Prophet! In fact, when I get the golden opportunity to see him tonight at the Iota in Arlington, VA (just 5 minutes outside Washington, DC), there'll once again be a crowd of only 50-75. Yet, somehow, I wonder if the irony strikes Chuck as bitter at all. He seems so at ease with himself and (dare I suggest) generally happy, and this radiates through in his consistently wonderful music, and very much so on "Temple Beautiful."
Without a single filler, this straight-on rock and roll album moves Prophet away from his recent eclectic phase (not that there weren't top-notch albums tucked in there too). Mr. Prophet is a seasoned artist by now, and he proves this by taking the best elements of all periods of his music and weaving them into a rich and warm-sounding rock record. The synthesizers of recent albums are largely gone, as is the definite presence of Stephenie Finch (two potentially interwoven factors), although it is glorious to hear them duet on the lovely dance number "Little Girl, Little Boy." Other top-notch tunes include "Castro Halloween," the title track, and "I Felt Like Jesus," expertly sequenced throughout the record to keep the thrill ride going. Absolutely magnificent and a must-have for any rock fan!
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If you aren't familiar with Chuck Prophet, you're missing out. He's been writing great stuff for years, some recorded with his band and some performed by others (often with his help), like Alejandro Escovedo or Kelly Willis.

Temple Beautiful is one of his strongest efforts yet. And that's saying something. These songs collectively are a love letter to San Francisco, his adopted hometown. He picks out some of the city's colorful characters, quirks, and historical wrinkles, sprinkles in some of his experiences, and captures something of its soul on this album. Great stuff.

The production here is straightforward, a bit more raw and edgy than his recordings from the early to mid 2000s. He's dropped some of the synths and electronic gadgetry that colored his music back then, too. He's rocking, rowdy. Back to basics. Guitars are front and center. He brought his Telecaster out to play, and James DePrato contributes excellent complementary guitar work, too. I'm hearing some echoes of Big Star in this one. It's the real deal. The industry would be much more interesting if there were more artists like Chuck generating fun, energetic, worthwhile rock like this.

So get out there and check it out. Someday this is all going to be gone. Don't miss it.
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