- A Journey Through the Blues:The Son Seals Story
- Son Seals
Frank “Son” Seals was the last of 13 children born to a juke joint owner in Arkansas in 1942. Growing up surrounded by the blues, and by eminent players like Robert Nighthawk, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Albert King, Seals was a musician from an early age and leading his own band by age 18. Before his untimely death in 2004, Seals made a name for himself as one of the most distinctive practioners of electric Chicago-style blues. Although he never attained the commercial success of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, or many of his other contemporaries, he was admired and respected by them both for his artistry and his unwillingness to compromise .
This DVD provides a fascinating but somewhat one-sided look at Seals. It glosses over some of the dubious aspects of his personal life, while acknowledging that they existed. it does showcase the bitterness he felt as an African American musician trying to make it big or even survive in a racist society, and the severe physical health problems and injuries which placed major stress on his professional career.
Interviews with Koko Taylor, Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records, and one of Seals’s sons provide some insight into his character as well as his musical prowess. The latter, of course, is what we are most interested in, and the DVD provides considerable concert footage. Although some of the camera work is jerky, the sound is good, and his inimitable style is front-and-center. Like Albert and B.B. King, Albert Collins, Jimi Hendrix, and a few others, Seals had a mode of playing guitar which is immediately recognizable to those who know blues and have heard him before. His music was not subtle; it was loud, powerful, and in-your-face; it was music for beer-drinking, dancing, and letting out joy and rage.
If you don’t know Seals’s music, this DVD is a good place to start.