“If you’re to believe what you read, today’s San Francisco is under siege by predatory tech nerds and drones, plutocrats, wiz kids and opportunistic real estate developers. People have reacted in different ways to this onslaught. The Occupy Movement for one. You may have heard of people laying down in front of google buses in protest or smashing google glasses on the sidewalk.
There’s also the path of art… In 2012, I released Temple Beautiful – an open love letter to San Francisco and its history and characters. After two years of performing the songs across the U.S and the globe, in late 2013, my band and I delivered the 12 song cycle Temple Beautiful with a string octet (scored and conducted by Brad Jones) in our hometown of San Francisco.
We had one chance to get it right. And this film is a document of the twists and turns in the road that brought us to that one-night-only sold-out performance at the Great American Music Hall (Itself a former bordello and a deco SF institution).
The songs performed that night include characters like Willie Mays, martyred supervisor Harvey Milk, Cain & Abel porn kings Jim & Artie Mitchell, mythic oddball “Red Man,” preacher/Svengali Jim Jones, politician-turned assassin Dan White, and Emperor Norton, with cameos by Laffing Sal, Carol Doda, Bill Graham, and Fatty Arbuckle. Locations also play a key role, including the Castro and Mission Districts. One song is devoted to the White Night Riots, sparked by the light sentence received by the assassination of Milk and Mayor Moscone.
Some will have you believe that technology is the new culture. Then again, how can technology equate culture? Can Rock and Roll build community? Can songs connect people to the world? These are the questions explored in Strings In The Temple.”
– Chuck Prophet
That’s the background sorted and with a new imminent studio album, ‘The Land Time Forgot’ (review very soon) the former Green on Red man is still the hot ticket and as productive as ever making music that relevant and above all bloody good. Yep Roc has made available as a digital download this epic and quite beautiful performance containing some exquisite songs and overall performance. Chuck is one of those rare talents that never turned in a bad record. Sure some are a class apart like ‘Brother Aldo’ from his solo offerings or ‘Here Comes The Snakes’ from the old band but this is an accompanying piece for the album ‘Proper’ and with bells and whistles or should that be with strings and bells?
The title track is a honky tonkin’ Rock and Roll thing of beauty from the dirty slide guitar to the T rextasy strings and the handclaps and xylophone makes it something really special and sounds like the best of times being had by everyone and the fiddle players are really taking this home and from the generous round of applause, this audience is really witnessing something special. In direct contrast, a pin could be heard dropping on ‘Museum Of Broken Hearts’.
You get to appreciate just what a talent Prophet is on records like this as he turns his hand to several styles yet always maintains the Chuck Prophet vibe and whoever rallied the troops and did the arrangments here has really elevated this set to the next level. ‘White Night Big City’ is a cocky strut and can only be outdone by the impeccable cover of ‘Shake Some Action’ who’d have thought such an awesome Rock and Roll track would sound so cool with strings holding down the lead. Genius!
To wrap this bad boy up the softly sung balladeer that is Chuck Prophet leaves us with ‘No Other Love’ and I get lost in the moment as the strings wrap themselves around the slide guitar as Chuck hushes his lyrics the listener’s way and its not a tear in my eye just a spec of dust, honest. All that is left is the audience to give a huge round of applause before the record is done. Simply brilliant stuff and now I can’t wait for the new studio album which is coming so very very soon. Ladies and gentlemen get yerself some Chuck Prophet and do it now! You don’t need to take my word for it because Yup Roc has made the performance available on youtube (check it out below)
Author: Dom Daley