Since his neo-psychedelic Green On Red 80s days, Chuck Prophet has been turning out country, folk, blues, and Brill Building classicism. The cult Californian musician now returns with ‘The Land That Time Forgot’, his latest album released via Yep Roc Records. Priced out of recording in his beloved hometown, San Francisco, Prophet found himself re-energised in Upstate NY, just a few miles from the Vermont border, and made a record that he describes as “just as much a 21st-century exorcism as it is Americana.” The songs inhabit a world where the protagonists might be on the run from the truant officer, a handsy boss or the Immigration Service. These are love songs that turn political on a dime, told through Chuck’s personal history; one greatly informed by an upbringing with Republican Party members as parents. In his singular way, the album charts the slow-collapse of the party: be it songs about ‘Honest Abe Lincoln’s’ funeral train through to stories about growing up in Nixon’s hometown and ending with an attack on the current clown who sits in the Oval Office.
Written mostly with longtime co-conspirator klipschutz, this LP steps out of Chuck’s comfort zone (“two guitars, bass, and drums”). Dropping into Kenny Siegal’s Old Soul Studios to finish the record, with some great company too: “At Old Soul, musicians drop in, sometimes complete blind dates. We did everything live.
‘The Land That Time Forgot’ has deep roots, from the Southern Delta to the discos of Munich. There’s a kind of folkish inevitability to it–"there’s lots of acoustic instruments, on top of each other and side by side”–but as much as folk music is the soil all music grows from, it never hurts to have a boiler room. As such, there’s always a rhythm section shuffling under your feet. Take ‘Marathon’, for example: “It’s all Krautrock bass and Everly Brothers acoustics. I threw all my rockabilly, space-age, Roxy Music tricks in there.” On this new album, Chuck finds himself on his finest-form. Not just in terms of the multifaceted songwriting–with more surprising reference points than you count on two hands–but also his exemplary, typically out-there story-telling, too. ‘High As Johnny Thunders’ is an ode to two of Prophet’s heroes – not just the New York Dolls guitarist in the title, but Dion DiMucci too: “I like to think Dion would feel at home in this all Pink and Black tribute to one of our greatest lost heroes of self-destruction, NYC’s most beloved dope-fiend dandy”
‘The Land That Time Forgot’ comprises some of Prophet’s first politically-themed songs too. Where ‘Paying My Respects To The Train’ tells the story of the funeral train that travelled Lincoln’s body to Springfield, retracing his route to Washington in 1861, Then there’s ‘Nixonland’, which recalls Prophet’s childhood growing up in the former president's hometown, La Habra. In the song Prophet remembers one particular field trip to Nixon’s first law office in fourth grade to pay tribute Wrapping up the album is ‘Get Off The Stage’, Prophet’s letter to the former (finally!) clown-in-chief:
About Chuck Prophet
Chuck Prophet - singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. Chuck started his wild ride back in 1984 when Green on Red plucked him out of Berkeley, CA and put him in the van for an eight year ride, recording over six albums with them. Green on Red were seminal purveyors of American Roots-Rock aka Alt-country and broke up in 1992 just before an entire movement followed in their wake. Since then Chuck has recorded fourteen amazing solo albums and toured and recorded with Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann, Cake. Alejandro Escovedo and Jonathan Richman. In addition to that, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Solomon Burke and Heart have covered his songs.
His guitar style follows in the tradition of such players as Keith Richards and Alex Chilton while his lyrics and phrasing have been compared to Dylan and Tom Petty. Chuck’s never been one to rest on his laurels and ride it out and his last five records have been his best yet. His band the Mission Express features his wife Stephanie Finch on vocals and keys, James DePrato on guitar, Keven T White on bass and Vicente Rodriguez on drums. Chuck’s live shows have sold out gigs across the UK featuring slots on festivals like Summertyne in Newcastle, Glastonbury, Roskilde etc. This last year saw him tour Spain covering the Rolling Stones 'Some Girls' album with Dylan's guitarist, Charlie Sexton.