Sunday, January 4, 2009

This Soul Album Gets A Seal of Approval

Seal: Soul
Warner Bros. Records
Four Tablespoons
of Bosco

Reviewed by
Allen Bacon
The Daily Bosco

A few years ago, I purchased this wonderful CD, The Best of Soul which I promptly wore out because it sounded so great. It had all the best soul music sang by the original singers including Al Green, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield and Harold Melville. I had often thought about going out and getting another copy of that CD but I may not have to do that for awhile.

That's because I just got a copy of Seal's latest...simply titled Soul where he covers most of the material that I loved on the aforementioned compilation CD.

Many will probably say that this is an attempt to revive a waning career, but I look at it a lot differently. This album was inevitable.

Seal is probably the best male soul singer of this generation. You want to show how good you are? Then you go toe to toe, note for note, with the previously mentioned legends.

And Seal gets himself possibly the best producer of this generation also for this one...the same person that produces and has produced the likes of Celine Dion, Chicago and many more....David Foster.

Seal and Foster don't set out here to reinvent the wheel on this music. But the slight nuance of Seal's voice and the orchestral arrangements of Foster really add to the classics.

Now I'm a fan of more of the upbeat numbers and so I really liked Seal's takes on Al Green's Here I Am (Come and Take Me) and I'm Still In Love With You, Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd's Knock on Wood, and Wilson Pickett's Midnight Hour.

But Seal is probably at his best and most soulful on the slow numbers. He also covers nine songs in that vein including Ben E. King's Stand By Me, Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready and the Gamble and Huff tune If You Don't Know Me By Now.

As a sidenote: As somebody who has hung around the Graphic Arts business for several year's, I was impressed with the design of the album cover and liner notes. Blues and silver metallic and blacks accent nostalgic photos of Seal and an old microphone circa 60's...delicious art direction and design by Ellen Wakayama and Donny Phillips.

While Seal fans are anxious for him getting back to an album of new material...because, afterall, he is a good songwriter in his own right, we'll take this one and hopefully there's a volume two in he and Foster somewhere.

The Bosco Rating System is based on a rating of one to five. Five Being Best.

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