Temple Beautiful is Chuck Prophet’s ‘Frisco equivalent of London Calling with a cast of winners, losers, gangsters, hipsters, gay rights campaigners, baseball players, beats and bohemians. It takes you on a flamboyant trip to “a city full of animals, a city full of thieves/a city full of lovers trying hard to make believe” (“Play That Song Again”).
But it’s more punk rock characters than Haight-Ashbury hippies that inhabit Prophet’s vision of his adopted hometown. The title song is centred on the Temple punk nightclub and is a harsh kind of love song about getting the gig, but losing the girl. The club, which “everybody knew could not last”, is an ideal metaphor for a relationship with a limited shelf life. The song’s got the whole Clash call-and-response thing which is a perfect fit for the edgy place we’re in: “someday there’s gonna be a revolution/till then you’ll need an iron constitution”.
“Castro Halloween” has got a similar mix of the urban and mythological, chronicling a period of massive street parties which ended only when “shots rang out and two men died/you took off your mask just to see me cry”. We’re immersed in the counter-culture; the minx in “I Felt Like Jesus” ties a rag around her head, and says Meat is Murder – but it’s the city more than girls which keep the singer’s attention.
The standout track is “The Left Hand & The Right Hand”, the tale of two harmonizing but fractious brothers who fall in, fall out and then fall in again; when finally they get back together they’re “still at each other’s throats/breaking strings and dropping beats, singing all of the wrong notes”. Amalgamate porn, the mafia and the Everly’s, and the output resembles something like this joyous racket. In the city Prophet portrays, everything and everyone are artfully inter-connected, intensifying the idea of a diverse community, “anyone who’s lost in love is welcome at the door” (“Museum of Broken Hearts”). Get this boy a plane ticket.
Label: Yep Roc
Release Date: 07 FEB 2012
FIRST PUBLISHED BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS (ISSUE 81)