October 29, 2007

Wild aces with diamonds in your hair

I bought Seal's first album on cassette the day it came out. I don't even know how I found out about new music back in 1991, but Crazy immediately leapt out as being something quite unique from what was on pop radio at the time. What I remember most, though, is walking home from summer school (as in college) and some redneck screamed faggot! out his car window at me! That had never happened before or since. I just sort of shut down and immediately put on my tape player / earphones and listened to Seal.

Seal is not terribly prolific. His new release will be his fifth proper album in 16 years, with only one meh album in all that time. Seal has generally collaborated with Trevor Horn, whose grandiose sensibility I find quite pleasing. He spares no drama.

When it became clear that Seal would not do his new album with Horn, it was cause for worry. So "Mr. Henry" (real name) made a brilliant move by having Madonna's main man Stuart Price produce the new record, System (that's the creepy album cover above). I've been honest that I don't think the new single Amazing is - hear it below - though it's kind of like the other side of all the Rehab songs out this year. The album's title track just leaked and it's better. In fact, the final 45 seconds recalls the complexity of the last half of Madonna's I Love New York.

My Top Ten Plus One Seal Songs, in alph order:

The Beginning

The first song on his first album, it is the one I love best. 6 minutes of swirling disco.
Need I say anything else? A perfect pop single, but different from anything on radio at the time.
Dreaming In Metaphors (piano mix)
This alternate mix was a bside. It's a good example of how strong the songs are beneath Horn's arrangements. There is something very Joni Mitchell about this one, speaking of which...
If I Could (with Joni Mitchell)
Seal's icily pristine duet with Mitchell. I love th foirst 90 seconds, which are flawless.
It is. It's hard to understand now, post Kiss From A Rose, but Seal was once considered to be cool, edgy dance music.
The Loneliest Star
From his 2003 CD, this is smooth, elegant and has the best middle eith of any Seal song. Goosepimply.
Love's Divine (acoustic version)
Much better than the actual album version, this is commerically available. The chord change at :43 give me chills everytime. This song will be covered for years to come, mark my words.
Newborn Friend
Wordy. I like a song with the line I can't change my ideals.
Prayer For the Dying
This mature first single (from his second album) has aged very well. I love the bass. I may not know what you're going through...
Nobody does music like this music. It's like a tone poem or something - very minimal and new agey.
One of his best album cuts- the whole first album is pretty much perfect. Note that he also collaborated with Guy Sigsworth (before Bjork) and Wendy And Lisa on that album.

Seal Amazing WM stream

Finally, I must add one more reason to like Seal: Heidi Klum told Oprah this week, in so many words, that she fell for Seal the minute she saw his big ol' dinger - my word, not hers - in his tight gym pants. Heh heh! At least she is more honest than most.

Seal Killer (live in Paris):

More videos from Seal here.


Paul said...

i've always been aware that i kind of liked seal but never really dove into his music. The free cd with the mail on sunday was a good start. But the interview was much more illuminating! I didn't know he didn't get any royalties from Kiss From A Rose. Nasty manager dude. I'm getting excited about the new album. Though everytime i go to sing Amazing in my head to pass the time at work, i end up singing Madonna instead. Oops

DanProject76 said...

I've always been an almost fan. He seems a bit pretentious in his lyrics but the tunes are good. I remember buying the firat album's singles on 12", which makes me feel old. I don't mind the new single, it's a bit of a grower, and look forward to the full set.

julian said...

A vastly under rated artist, the link up with Jacques Lu Cont so far sounds fantastic.

Any idea where I can find the rest of the album? I will also be buying it of course!

xolondon said...

No leak as far as I know. Maybe everyone will hear it the old fashioned way.

julian said...

Aaaah, that's kinda sweet. Impressive really.

Can't wait to hear it.