27 Songs, 2 Hours, 10 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Seal never really established a single definitive sound. The thread that ties his almost twenty-year career together is surely his voice. Breathy but not husky, sensitive but not sentimental, it often feels like a masculine equivalent to Sade’s mysterious coo. The various soundscapes that appear on this greatest hits collection are mostly the work of songwriter and producer Trevor Horn, whose extended collaboration with Seal is unique in a career defined by one-off projects for everyone from Yes to Pet Shop Boys to Belle & Sebastian. Horn is responsible for “Crazy” and “Kiss From a Rose,” Seal’s two most memorable songs — the first a hypnotic house-inflected tune in which Seal’s voice blends completely within the contours of the music, while the latter is a stately and ornately orchestrated ballad that won Horn and Seal a Grammy award in 1996. But the most welcome surprise of Best, 1991-2004 is its covers. Seal turns Steve Miller’s “Fly Like An Eagle” into a sequel to “Crazy,” while “Walk On By” remains moody and bluesy beneath a techno beat. Some Best Ofs suffer from jarring diversity, but Best, 1991-2004 makes an asset of its varied terrain. Its multi-layered playlist goes to show that all Seal has to do to make a song his is sing on it.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Seal never really established a single definitive sound. The thread that ties his almost twenty-year career together is surely his voice. Breathy but not husky, sensitive but not sentimental, it often feels like a masculine equivalent to Sade’s mysterious coo. The various soundscapes that appear on this greatest hits collection are mostly the work of songwriter and producer Trevor Horn, whose extended collaboration with Seal is unique in a career defined by one-off projects for everyone from Yes to Pet Shop Boys to Belle & Sebastian. Horn is responsible for “Crazy” and “Kiss From a Rose,” Seal’s two most memorable songs — the first a hypnotic house-inflected tune in which Seal’s voice blends completely within the contours of the music, while the latter is a stately and ornately orchestrated ballad that won Horn and Seal a Grammy award in 1996. But the most welcome surprise of Best, 1991-2004 is its covers. Seal turns Steve Miller’s “Fly Like An Eagle” into a sequel to “Crazy,” while “Walk On By” remains moody and bluesy beneath a techno beat. Some Best Ofs suffer from jarring diversity, but Best, 1991-2004 makes an asset of its varied terrain. Its multi-layered playlist goes to show that all Seal has to do to make a song his is sing on it.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5

186 Ratings

186 Ratings

Do yourself a favor...

Agent_Summer

Buy this album instead of the regular version! It's packed with amazing acoustic versions that are a must for any fan! If you're looking to download only the stuff you've heard on the radio, this is probably a bit much for you. I almost made the mistake of buying the other version, which I would have really enjoyed, but I would have missed out on some great and enjoyable versions of my favorite songs. The decision is yours, but I recommend this version!

If you like Seal, this is a Must!

freeinsantee

I heard the acoustic versions on my local jazz station and had to get this album. It's fabulous and every song is wonderful. Definitely worth it to buy the whole album.

More than a Benetton commercial with a martini or two.

crunchy cookie

The 'ol Crunchy Cookie is not a big Seal fan but take my trusted advice on "Love's Divine" acoustic version. This naked version of a big hit will find a special place on your playlist. Seal's music and voice always seem to convey unity and transparency. His lyrics also suggest that redemption is a large part of his influences. With that said, the acoustic version of "Love's Divine's" is arguably one of the most redeeming popular songs of our time. And dear fans, that's coming right from the heart. Look for my other reviews on i tunes.

About Seal

Seal emerged from England's house music scene in 1990 to become the most popular British soul vocalist of that decade. Although his earliest material still showed signs of acid house, by the mid-'90s he was known for a distinctive fusion of soul, folk, pop, dance, and rock that brought him success on both sides of the Atlantic. Early on, he enjoyed a very high level of success -- an Ivor Novello Award was given to him for the writing of his first single, and he won three Grammy Awards only a few years later. His albums were typically released a few years apart, yet they tended to earn multiple gold and platinum certifications in different countries.

The son of Nigerian and Brazilian parents, Seal, born Sealhenry Samuel in 1963, was raised in England. After graduating with an architectural degree, he took various jobs around London, including electrical engineering and designing leather clothing. After a while, he began singing in local clubs and bars. He joined an English funk band called Push, touring Japan with the band in the mid-'80s. When he was in Asia, he joined a Thailand-based blues band. After a short time with that group, he traveled throughout India on his own.

Upon returning to England, Seal met Adamski, a house and techno producer who had yet to make much of an impression in the U.K. Seal provided the lyrics and vocals for Adamski's "Killer," which became a number one U.K. hit in 1990 and was acknowledged with an Ivor Novello Award. Seal signed a solo recording contract with ZTT and recorded his eponymous debut album with label founder Trevor Horn, who had previously worked with Yes, ABC, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Grace Jones, among others. The first single pulled from the album, "Crazy," became a number 15 hit in the U.K. in 1990 and reached number seven in the U.S. upon its release there the following year. Seal was likewise a success, reaching number 24 in America and selling over three-million copies around the world.

Seal subsequently took three years to complete his second album. In between the two records, he appeared on the Jimi Hendrix tribute album Stone Free, singing on Jeff Beck's version of "Manic Depression." In the summer of 1994, he released his second album, also titled Seal. Preceded by the American Top 40 hit "Prayer for the Dying," the album did well upon its release, peaking at number 20 and selling a million copies by the spring of 1995, but it didn't really take off until a year after its release, when "Kiss from a Rose" was featured on the soundtrack to Batman Forever. That song became a number one pop single in America and spent a total of 12 weeks at the top of the adult contemporary chart. Its success sent the parent album into multi-platinum status; two years after its original release, the album had sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone. Additionally, the song was connected to three Grammy awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Human Being, Seal's third album, hit the shelves in 1998 and didn't fare nearly as well on a commercial level. Five years passed -- a period that included the recording of Togetherland, a shelved album Seal termed "crap" -- prior to the release of Seal IV. That album put the singer back in the Top Ten of the U.K. album chart and, for the first time, in the U.S. Top Ten. As another lengthy between-album period ensued, there were a couple stopgap packages, namely Best: 1991-2004 and the live CD/DVD combo Live in Paris. Additionally, Seal married Heidi Klum, who appeared as a duet partner on "Wedding Day," a song on the 2007 album System.

For the next several years, Seal was more productive than ever. He switched gears with Soul (2008), for which he covered classic soul songs. In eight territories, the album was certified gold, platinum, or diamond, while it reached number 13 in the U.S. It was produced by David Foster, who remained a creative partner for Commitment (2010) and Soul 2 (2011), the latter of which -- a second set of covers -- also involved Trevor Horn. The album 7 (2015), issued three years after Seal and Klum's divorce, was previewed with the tracks "Every Time I'm with You" and "Do You Ever." Those two songs, as well as all others on the album, were produced by Horn. Signing with Republic Records, began working with producer Nick Patrick at Los Angeles' historic Capitol Records studios on a set of standards from the classic pop songbook. Enlisting a seasoned team of jazz and pop veterans in the studio where Frank Sinatra famously recorded, Seal emerged with his tenth album, Standards, which was slated for release in November 2017. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

  • ORIGIN
    Paddington, London, England
  • GENRE
    Pop
  • BORN
    February 19, 1963

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