Chuck Prophet loves San Francisco. It's the sort of love that knows every crack in the sidewalk, that celebrates the glory days of shuttered clubs, that never ceases to treasure the weird and the mundane alike.
There's more than a twinge of nostalgia in the title song "Temple Beautiful," an ode to the old Geary Boulevard club where Prophet saw so many influential bands. But it's hardly an album buried in the past.
What makes Temple Beautiful such a vibrant tribute to San Francisco is the raucous thrill that Prophet brings to the songwriting and performance. On the heels of 2009's excellent ¡Let Freedom Ring!, an angry and disillusioned state-of-the-nation political album, Temple Beautiful bristles with the boisterous urgency of a Friday night.
As a listener, it helps to be someone who's walked through the Castro, the Haight and the Mission and can identify with San Francisco's uniquely intoxicating effect. But Prophet and his band deliver the songs with the universal appeal of tight and swaggering rock 'n' roll. There's a bit of blues, a bit of psychedelic rock and some surging power pop.
Opener "Play That Song Again" sets the tone with its churning guitar chords and "oh oh oh" chorus. "Willie Mays Is Up at Bat" celebrates the iconic centerfielder and how the city's fans halted everything to watch Mays hit.
Prophet makes San Francisco come to life in all its enduring, freaky glory, a city of unhinged expression that holds in permanent thrall those lucky enough to get it.