Prophet and his current band, the Mission Express, pull out all the stops on Temple Beautiful, which crashes and slashes with searing old-school post-punk guitar-rock energy. Song-cycles such as this don't always work, but the singer's loving tribute to his adopted Northern California hometown doesn’t so much paint a broad picture of San Francisco as it offers little vignettes. Songs include the title track, Prophet's remembrance of late-'70s punk club The Temple, which was housed in a former synagogue and later Jim Jones’ notorious People's Temple religious cult; the Jay McInerney/Velvet Underground-quoting “White Night, Big City,” about the riots that came in the wake of the assassination of gay city leader Harvey Milk; and the twangy, Dylan-esque “Willie Mays Is Up To Bat,” which name-checks the storied S.F. ballplayer. Cumulatively, they add up to a bittersweet love letter, not unlike Lou Reed’s 1988 classic New York.
My impressions of Prophet’s new album are hardly unique. Music journalist Holly Gleason sums up her Paste magazine review of Temple Beautiful with the observation, “Prophet channels Reed’s pervasive urban edge without overwhelming his own voice.” I couldn’t agree more. This is a don’t-miss show!
Let Prophet take you on a tour of his San Francisco: