Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Son Seals

  • Midnight Son [Alligator, 1976] A-
  • Live and Burning [Alligator, 1978] A-
  • Bad Axe [Alligator, 1984] B+
  • Living in the Danger Zone [Alligator, 1991] Neither

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Midnight Son [Alligator, 1976]
Were it not for the brash reentry of the Winterized Muddy Waters, I could wax superlative; as it is, let's call it the finest Chicago blues record recorded in Chicago (get it?) since the second Hound Dog Taylor (also on this label). Seals performs the thrillingly paradoxical trick of keeping a raw guitar style under impeccable control and sings much better than his serviceable voice would seem to permit. In other words, he really knows what he's doing, and knowing doesn't stop him from doing it to it--it helps. So vibrantly conceived that I'm not even sure I should complain about the horns. A-

Live and Burning [Alligator, 1978]
Seals's club work tends to be rawer than the (genuinely) "progressive" Midnight Son, so this product makes sense. And nice as it is that Seals composes his own material, the numerous borrowings--my favorites are from Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, and Pinetop (I think) Perkins--are a peer's prerogative. A-

Bad Axe [Alligator, 1984]
Seals will never be a Muddy Waters or B.B. King, and his fifth LP lacks the edge of Midnight Son or Live and Burning. But he's such an impassioned craftsman he makes the distinction problematic, and he doesn't stand still--this time he's singing tenderly enough to bring off the self-servingly sentimental "I Can Count on My Blues." Which I guess he can. B+

Living in the Danger Zone [Alligator, 1991] Neither