Sunday, September 21, 2003

The return of Seal makes me happy indeed. His new album, Seal IV (on the heels of Seal, Seal [different album, same title], and the aberration, title-wise, Human Beings - he's apparently subscribing to the Peter Gabriel method of album titles) is starting strong out of the blocks, entering the Billboard 200 at #3 this week, and the UK album chart at #4, hurrah! I've been a fan since he released the first Seal back in 1991 - in fact, funny story: at the time, I was reading NME (back when it actually meant something) and Melody Maker (R.I.P.) religiously, and had heard a lot about Seal without ever actually having heard his music. But I knew I was interested: dance pedigree (thanks to his vocals on his first UK #1, Adamski's "Killer"), Trevor Horn production, striking looks, and creamy pop-soul hooks? I was so ready for him. I walked into my local record store in Bloomington, Indiana on its U.S. release date - mind you, this was before "Crazy" had started to take off at radio - and eagerly asked if they'd gotten any copies of Seal in. "Yeah, we got one," said the bemused clerk. "I didn't know anyone knew who he was."

I'm not cool like dat, I'm geeky like dat - and always have been, see?

I've heard a couple of tracks from Seal IV. I like the single "Waiting for You" quite a bit - it's classic, warm, pop-soulful Seal; the shame is that that means he's now a natural only for the Adult Contemporary format. I don't care much for "Get It Together," too much of a confused song in what it wants to be and what it is (it doesn't know, really). That's in its original album version. However, there are remixes, which in fact have thrust Seal to the top of the Billboard Dance Club/Play Chart this week - and there's one which is a corker, folks. For the second time this year (after his beautiful "Beautiful" remix), Peter Rauhofer has hit one clear out of the park, on his Classic Club Mix of "Keep It Together." It's uplifting as the best remixes are, smooth and deep - not just machine-cranked mix-o-matic, but one which clearly had plenty of thought and effort put into it. As far as commercially-inclined remixers go these days, Rauhofer's at the top of his game. And Seal's is a stunning, singular voice which cries out for great arrangements; here, it all comes together in one gorgeously gift-wrapped package.

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