Guilty pleasures: Seal – Best: 1991-2004 (2004)

Share this:

by Mark Saleski

MTV Unplugged. It was an interesting show (heck, it was an interesting network, back when the ‘M’ actually stood for “music”). Can an artist/band deal with going ‘naked,’ the protective cover of studio sheen stripped away? Enough creativity and imagination to pull off a reinvention?

Sometimes, the results were impressive and powerful. The emotions embedded in songs seemed to be magnified.

Some of these ideas where on my mind when I first heard Seal’s 2003 release Seal IV. The tunes that hit the hardest (“Touch,” “Tinsel Town,” “Don’t Make Me Wait”) had their Trevor Horn-levels dialed way, way back. Seal’s voice took over.

A whole pile of tunes were then given just such a treatment on Disc 2 of Seal’s subsequent greatest-hits package Best: 1991-2004. “Acoustic” versions of Seal’s hits are presented, showing not only what a great songwriter the man is, but also: The Voice (as if we had any doubts about that!)

Now, I’ll admit here that, in general, I’m not much of a modern R&B fan. It almost always boils down to the production, which just seems too, uhm … inorganic. Maybe it’s the overuse of ProTools. Dunno. So maybe I couldn’t be called a ‘real’ fan of Seal, since his more amped-up songs tended to leave me cold. But then I started heading back in the other direction: This voice has so much power, soul and inner detail that all of a sudden I was beginning to see it as supporting and enhancing the production. On first listen, I doubted I’d be headed back to Disc 1 very often; then I reconsidered.

Very often, record companies are accused of attempting to “trick” people into buying Best-Of packages by offering things like alternate takes and/or previously unreleased live tracks. In this particular case, that charge is without merit. Seal’s “acoustic” disc stands alone. Proudly.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B00063F8BC” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000002LPP” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B002Y27P3M” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B001QP7X1M” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0043RK0FQ” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
Share this:
Close