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Lettin' Go

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Album Review

After spending his entire recording career with Alligator, Frank "Son" Seals' debut release on the Telarc Blues label is also the Chicago bluesman's first album of new material in almost six years. Although he lost part of his leg to diabetes in 1999, as somberly evidenced on the cover photo, little else has changed. Seals' gritty, booming vocals sound as authoritative as ever, and, if anything, the half decade between studio albums has added an even tougher quality to his traditionally gutsy singing. Working with the legendary Al Kooper on Hammond B-3 and top-notch musicians from Conan O'Brien's late night band gives Seals a firm, razor sharp backing on which to lay down his tough Chicago blues. The four-piece horn section and Kooper work wonderfully together. Along with Seals' beefy vocal attack and his fat, stinging guitar tone, he turns in a solid, uncompromising set of primarily original tunes. The 70-minute album would be stronger if some of the weaker tracks like "Osceola Rock," little more than a bland rewrite of "Jailhouse Rock," were omitted. But the album-closing jam with Phish's Trey Anastasio on a remake of Seals' "Funky Bitch" is energized and electric, and with excursions into gospel, light funk, gritty country, Southern R&B, and even a sensitive ballad, the guitarist expands his palette while staying within the blues framework. All of which makes Lettin' Go a sturdy, hard-hitting, and above all welcome comeback album from one of the acknowledged greats of Chicago blues guitar.


Born: 14 August 1942 in Osceola, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s

It all started with a phone call from Wesley Race, who was at the Flamingo Club on Chicago's South Side, to Alligator Records owner Bruce Iglauer. Race was raving about a new find, a young guitarist named Son Seals. He held the phone in the direction of the bandstand, so Iglauer could get an on-site report. It didn't take long for Iglauer to scramble into action. Alligator issued Seals' eponymous debut album in 1973, which was followed by six more. Son Seals was born Frank Seals on August 13, 1942...
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Lettin' Go, Son Seals
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