Review: Son Seals – A Journey Through The Blues

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 22, 2007

“A Journey Through The Blues – The Son Seals Story”
(DVD – The Vizztone Label Group – SB102)


From the good folk at Vizztone comes this DVD release about the life and music of blues guitarist Frank ‘Son’ Seals – with the man telling his story, interspersed with comment from family and friends. The 30-minute documentary is accompanied by an hour of 12 live performances, containing stage favourites such as “Bad Axe”, “Hot Sauce” and “Funky Bitch”.

Son Seals incendiary guitar found a home on Chicago’s Alligator Records and label boss Bruce Iglauer had a 30 year relationship with him; as well as running the label he also managed him and was his booker, and he is among the interviews – along with legendary singer Koko Taylor, tough-guy actor and bluesman, Steven Seagal and fellow guitarist, Lonnie Brooks.

Seals’ horn-driven blues and gritty voice established him as a giant in the ‘Windy City’ of Chicago, where he moved to from Arkansas in 1971, after playing drums before turning to the guitar – and his dynamite live performances are captured on home turf at Rooster Blues, The House of Blues and also The Chicago Blues Festival.

Despite some very tough times he always remained committed to his music and battled on despite being shot in the face and eventually losing a leg to diabetes – and director Peter Carlson deserves great credit for bringing us the story of a true bluesman, who, as he says in his liner notes “never compromised anything”.

Son Seals died from diabetes complications in December, 2004 – but this fine DVD tells his story, complete with his struggles and tragedies, and reminds us all what a fine player he was, with a most impressive back catalogue – highly recommended to all blues lovers out there!

With film of the likes of Muddy Waters, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan being plentiful these days it makes a change to see this portrait of one of the blues more ‘journeyman’ players, but nonetheless still an important figure in the history of Chicago blues.


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