There are albums and there are Chuck Prophet albums. There are gigs and there are Chuck Prophet gigs and then there are the songs. On his new album, ‘Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins,’ (you know there won’t be a better album title than that this year) Chuck lands one of his finest within the first 10 minutes. ‘Open Up Your Heart’ is a simple paen to unrequited love, but to what, to whom? There is so much that Chuck holds dearly it might not be till you get to the end of side two that you discover the answer. Is it the rock heroes we’ve lost in 2016, the diminishing of his home city San Francisco or even the unexplained sudden deaths of boyhood heroes like the aforementioned Bobby Fuller? Fuller was the man who wanted to be the next Buddy Holly and who died in mysterious circumstances outside his LA apartment in 1966 just months after his version of ‘I Fought The Law’ became his first top ten hit.
In Chuck’s new record he introduces the grand concept of California Noir and brings it all home with an angry and moving tribute to a young man called Alex Nieto who was killed in the Bay Area in controversial circumstances by the San Francisco police. It’s a protest song worthy of Neil Young in full spate. The thing about Chuck, which you may well already know, is he’s a man more comfortable with affirmation than blank protest. Chuck reminds me of that great quote often paid in tribute to the French Impressionists, ‘The world is so full of such wonderful things, we should all be as happy as kings.’
This Tuesday on Another Country we will have Chuck Prophet and his wonderful Mission Express in session and conversation. It will be the third time Chuck has been back to see us and each time he plays in Scotland a growing assembly of admirers are at pains to tell anyone who will listen how great the gigs have been. Seeing Chuck and The M.E. live at King Tuts a few years ago was as good a live experience as I had in that year. It’s been a huge disappointment not to be within the city limits when the band have visited these last two times. My esteemed producer, Richard Murdoch, has virtually bought a Mission Express season ticket and I suspect that one of these days he’ll just plain disappear on the their tour-bus if I don’t watch out. I say no more – join us this Tuesday and be ready to be Chucked.
We’re also going to spin some excellent new records we’re excited about. Listen out for wonderful things from Alison Krauss, John Moreland, Sam Outlaw and a particular favourite of mine from Romantica. Listen out too for some previews of Country To Country stars who will be coming to Scotland this weekend. We’ll have music from Reba McEntire, Maren Morris and Chris Young. We’ll play some great new Rhiannon Giddens on vinyl and bring you some cool Carolina Chocolate Drops connections. All this in two hours I hear you say? Yes, I reply. We’re on from five past nine this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland FM. Join me if you can.