Midnight Son

Son Seals

Alligator, 1976

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What a difference four years made for Chicago-based blues guitarist/vocalist Son Seals. His debut effort, The Son Seals Blues Band, captured his power with a production quality that can best be called gritty. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t polished enough to properly show off Seals’s talent.

Midnight Son, the second release from Seals on the Alligator label (and its eighth overall release) corrects this. Seals and his backing musicians come through the mix clear as day, making these nine selections the best (to this point) example of just what Seals was capable of.

With the opening notes of the first track “I Believe,” Seals quickly locks the listener in, and lets them know they’re going to be taken on a trip whose pace Seals himself will deliver. His soulful vocals, cutting in and out with his guitar work, leave little doubt that Seals could have been – and should have been – one of the best-known names in the genre.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Midnight Son is not strictly a 12-bar blues album. “No, No Baby” has more than a touch of Memphis rock and soul scattered in the rhythm section, making the track hypnotic and addicting. Likewise, tracks such as “Telephone Angel,” “On My Knees” and the closer “Going Back Home” work the listener up into a blues-based frenzy, before gently setting them down and guiding them home.

Very little on this disc doesn’t work perfectly, and those rare mis-steps just suggest that Seals might have been reaching a little too far with some of his genre-stretching concepts. “Four Full Seasons Of Love” is a quick-tempo shuffle that, for some reason, just doesn’t take off and soar like many other tracks on this disc do. Still, these occasional hiccups are rare on this album.

As much as the better production job from Seals, label founder Bruce Iglauer and Richard McLeese helps the album’s overall power (as does the fact it was recorded at Curtom Studios in Chicago, best known for its work with Curtis Mayfield), sometimes the grittier production style of the previous album tended to bring out the rawness of Seals’s work a little better. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma, to be sure – but I’ll lean towards favoring the cleaner production work this time around, as it does nothing but benefit the overall band’s sound.

Midnight Son might have only been Seals’s second full-length effort, but it certainly suggested that he was going to have his work cut out for him in terms of ever hoping to top it.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2023 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Alligator, and is used for informational purposes only.