Frank "Son" Seals, 57, was literally born into the blues. His father Jim owned the Dipsey Doodle club, an Ocseola, Ark. roadhouse, which featured Albert King and Sonny Boy Williamson. By age 13, he was playing drums behind Delta great Robert Nighthawk, among others, displaying a rhythmic drive, which informed his music when he picked up a guitar and became a front man.
Though both his guitar playing and singing have a somewhat limited range, Seals isn't afraid to play around with different grooves and settings, and everything he touches smolders with a slow burn. For more than 20 years, he has been one of Chicago's leading contemporary lights, consistently performing with a gritty intensity and deeply rooted sense of groove and fronting tough, hard-driving outfits while brooking nary a wasted note.
"Live-Spontaneous Combustion" shows that nearly 20 years later, Seals has lost none of his fire while gaining a little more breadth and versatility, working out some of the funk grooves which first began to surface on the excellent "Chicago Fire" (1980) Alligator CD.
Seals is a master of consistency and it shows again on "Live-Spontaneous Combustion," which was recorded live June 20-22, 1996 in Chicago at Buddy Guy's Legends. Highlights include the guitar dominated "Mother Blues," the reflecting "Sitting Here Thinking" and the sedate "The Sun Is Shining."
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.