Album Review: Chuck Prophet, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins

Game of Two Halves from Former Green on Red Man

Self-described as “California Noir”, this is a rock and roll record about rock and roll. Chuck testifies several times and, to be fair, the ball goes over the bar more often than it goes wide. The title-track evokes Bobby Fuller’s biggest hit, the one about fighting the law, in style, with Byrdsy guitar lines (and a bit of Link Wray telegraphed in), behind a lyric about how things that rock are better than things which do not rock.

Other highlights include the lovely blast of country soul, ‘Open Up Your Heart’, not unlike the fine solo work of Peter Wolf, for whom Chuck has written; ‘The Rider Or The Train’, which I found myself whistling an hour later; the rollicking ‘If I Was Connie Britton’ (star of the TV show Nashville – no, me neither); and ‘We Got Up And Played’, a tale of rocking out, even when nobody turns up, which wouldn’t have been out of place on a Mott The Hoople album. However, despite a title worthy of Tom Waits, ‘Jesus Was A Social Drinker’ is derailed by a couplet imagining Jesus as an Irish man (“Guinness for lunch”). Awkward as a newborn fawn, it would have the fadas-on-everything brigade reaching for their pitchforks. And there are other missteps.

Overall, ‘Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins’ is a bit smooth: a bit more sonic grit would have improved matters no end. But there’s stuff here that’s well worth hearing irrespective.

 

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