Artist: Chuck Prophet
Album: Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins
Label: YepRoc Records
Release Date: 02/10/2017
“I Fought the Law” was the only major hit for the Bobby Fuller Four, reaching the top ten in early 1966. By July, Bobby Fuller had died under mysterious circumstances. In Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, Chuck Prophet does not attempt to solve the mystery. He does, however, keep alive the spirit of the man who perhaps fought the law and lost, exploring the themes of celebrity, death, and disillusion.
As the title song opens the album, we are introduced to the man who inspired the music. With references to El Paso, police shootings, and thoughts of being anywhere when “that song” comes on the radio, Chuck opens up the discourse (“I hear the record crackle; the needle skips and jumps…”). Moving forward to today, we are reminded of those we lost in 2016, beginning when “the thin white duke took a final bow” giving us “one more star in the heavens now.” Yes, it’s been a “Bad Year for Rock and Roll,” leaving us wondering when it’s all going to end.
Endings and beginnings intertwine and hope blends with disillusion (“Open Up Your Heart” and “We Got Up and Played”) but life goes on, sometimes with a smile. The bouncy T-Rex sound of “If I was Connie Britton” paints a portrait where “everything would go my way.”
Prophet’s Ray Davies-like vocals merge with the blistering chops of the Mission Express to create a rousing, thought-provoking melange of the highs and lows of society, all brought to a blistering end in “Alex Nieto” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYyyZHnR7d8), a tribute to a Bay area security guard killed by local police officers. Though “Alex Nieto was a pacifist, a 49ers fan” who “never made it home again,” Chuck Prophet opens the gates, takes it home, and plows through a place of reckoning