Chuck Prophet's latest album, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, is a rock album about rock music. Or at least the title track is. The mysterious story of Fuller, who died in an unexplained manner in 1966 right after scoring a big hit with "I Fought the Law," is the underpinning of Prophet's jangly road anthem, a song that acknowledges the weird juxtaposition of joy and danger that is the spirit of rock music.
That uneasy, often contradictory, spirit permeates the album. "Bad Year for Rock and Roll" growls about the difficulties of 2016 but still expresses hope that "you don't have to die to reach a better place," ultimately admitting that the emotional balancing act is tough by saying "I wanna go out, but I'll probably stay home."
The 53-year-old Prophet, who made his mark with the band Green on Red in the 80s and has continued on his own since 1990, calls this new album "California Noir." That's as fitting a description as any for a collection of songs that draws on the brightness of surf-side guitars and melodic hooks while simultaneously meditating on the inevitability of death and the crumbling of the American dream.
When Prophet cruises into Fort Wayne, he'll be in the middle of one of those classic rock road trips, one that began in Austin and grinds through the Americana of the Upper Midwest, hitting St. Paul, Milwaukee and Chicago before stopping in Indiana. Prophet has been living the dark underside of American rock on the road, not just singing about it, for decades, and he's not about to stop now.