The Son Seals Blues Band

Son Seals

Alligator, 1973

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Chicago has had its share of blues legends over the decades, but perhaps one of the greatest was the late Frank “Son” Seals. Coming to the Chicago scene by way of Arkansas, he merged soulful yet gritty vocals into his blazing guitar licks to create some of the genre’s most memorable music. There’s a reason that Phish not only covered his song “Funky Bitch” in concert numerous times, but also welcomed Seals onto the stage to play with them.


Seals’s debut effort from 1973, The Son Seals Blues Band, is definitely gritty in terms of the overall sound – it’s definitely not a polished effort in either the performances or the overall production. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 It’s raw, but it’s enjoyable, capturing a star in the making.


On this debut effort, it sometimes feels like Seals is straining his vocals to reach a slightly higher range; later albums featured a gentle, soulful growl to his delivery that made his style unique. Not that his singing is bad on this release; tracks like “Your Love Is Like A Cancer” and “Cotton Picking Blues” showcase this fact perfectly.


The rhythm section of bassist John Riley, organist Johnny “Big Moose” Walker and drummer Charles Caldwell fit the music like a glove; the band often gets locked into the groove and it seems like they’ll never let it go (not that the listener complains). Take the track “Hot Sauce,” for example – three minutes seems like three seconds.


Seals’s guitar work, naturally, takes center stage – and while he might not have had the flash of other musicians, the feeling and soul he put into his guitar lines spoke volumes, even this early in his career. When paired with his vocals, the power is truly felt.


Yet this is still a learning experience for Seals and crew. The closing track “Now That I’m Down” might have benefited being a little shorter; ending the album with a slower groove seems to be anti-climatic for this one. Similarly, “Going Home Tomorrow” and “How Could She Leave Me,” while not bad tracks in and of themselves, don’t really stand out on their own.


Still, for a first effort, The Son Seals Blues Band is a fairly powerful release, and screamed the promise of what was to come from Seals.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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