Son Seals,
A Journey Through the Blues: The Son Seals Story
(Telarc, 2007)

Son Seals, the legendary Chicago bluesman who died in 2004, gets a biographical salute in this DVD. In it, he talks about his life, telling how he got his start as a little boy hanging out in his father's juke joint. He learned drums first because the drummer who played there left his kit set up where they were available. The guitar followed when he was 15. Soon he had a blues band and was playing gigs regionally.

Like so many others, though, Seals' career really began when he moved to Chicago.

In the interview portions, he looks back on his life. Members of his family chip in with memories, as do the owner of Alligator Records (for whom he made some of his best albums) and other artists like Coco Taylor and even visiting movie stars -- well, one fading star, Steven Seagal. The owner of a Chicago club where he played describes him as a teddy bear with a chain saw. The teddy bear was Seals himself, but put a guitar in his hands and he turned into a maniac.

If the documentary has a flaw, it's that it is too short, offering a summary view of Seals and his career, which isn't sufficient because the stories told in the summary lead you to want more.

Fortunately, the DVD is fleshed out with footage from three of Son Seals' concerts, two filmed in Chicago clubs and one at a blues festival. The concert footage helps fulfill the promise of the documentary by showing you exactly how good this man was.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 March 2008

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