Chuck Prophet with Nadine

Wednesday, September 18; Off Broadway

Sep 11, 2002 at 4:00 am
Chuck Prophet is a lifer. Although he's never enjoyed commercial success, the critical favorite has been playing guitar and making records for seventeen years. Thank goodness he's kept plugging away: His latest album, No Other Love (New West), may be his best yet.

Until about 1991, Prophet was in the seminal folk-rocking indie band Green on Red. Though he continued in the GOR vein on his first solo records, before long he developed his own voice as a songwriter/producer. Despite his gift for simple, elegant melodies that complement his relatively narrow vocal range, the real thrill of his records derives from the arrangements he develops in the studio. Comparisons to other artists aren't usually fair, but Prophet fits neatly alongside the likes of Tom Waits, Joe Henry and Wilco, musicians who tweak traditional forms into something unique. Prophet may be more in love with grooves than any of these contemporaries, though, as demonstrated on the irresistibly danceable "I Bow Down and Pray to Every Woman I See," a minor hit on community-radio stations around the country.

Like many California-based indie-rockers of his generation, Prophet has long been revered by record collectors in Europe -- his earliest solo albums weren't even available in America. No Other Love, like his excellent previous effort, The Hurting Business, has decent American distribution. Consider this a fine opportunity to catch up.