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£10.99

Soul - Released November 8, 2004 | Warner Bros.

Reusing the cover from his 1994 self-titled release -- as opposed to his 1991 or 2003 self-titled release -- makes Seal's discography all the more confusing, but that's the only mistake made on this glorious collection. Seal's partnership with producer Trevor Horn has yielded some of the most elegantly soulful and richly textured pop music of the preceding 20 years. Best: 1991-2004 picks and chooses from their output perfectly, orders it in a way that makes sense, and remembers a couple compilation and soundtrack appearances to make itself worthwhile for Seal's faithful. If you've owned a radio at sometime in the past two decades, a quarter of the disc will be familiar. But radio's compressed delivery of "Crazy," "Kiss From a Rose," and others don't do these grand songs justice; plus, anytime you can put a Trevor Horn production on the headphones is a rewarding experience. The songs from the lesser Seal IV come off much stronger in these surroundings, and the inclusion of a bunch of album tracks you forgot about but shouldn't have speaks to the compilers' keen understanding of Seal's career. The new recording of Bacharach-David's "Walk On By" is sweet, fair, and no disappointment, but it's Seal's take on Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" or Echo & the Bunnymen's "Lips Like Sugar" that proves him an great interpreter of other's tunes and able to shine without Horn's help (the positive and empowering "My Vision" is the third and final track without Horn). The greatness of Seal's first two albums keeps the collection from being "the only Seal CD you'll ever need." Instead, Best: 1991-2004 is a fantastic overview of a hit-or-miss artist that soars when he's got the right material. This is all the right material and an unquestionable success. ~ David Jeffries
£11.99

Pop - Released September 10, 2010 | Reprise

£10.99

Pop - Released October 31, 2008 | Warner Bros.

£1.99

Pop - Released August 5, 2003 | Warner Bros.

£2.49

Pop - Released January 31, 2011 | Reprise

£18.49

Pop - Released November 27, 2009 | Warner Bros.

Following Seal’s first compilation by five years, Hits covers much of the same ground as Best: 1991-2004: a whopping ten of its 18 songs are also on Best, including every one of his big hits (“Kiss from a Rose,” “Crazy,” “Killer,” “Prayer for the Dying”), with the remaining eight tracks including two new cuts bookending the album and singles released since Best. This makes it more comprehensive and complete than Best, but casual fans can be excused for thinking that there’s not much difference between the two compilations for the very fact that Seal hasn’t had many big hits since 2004, with not a single single crossing over into the American Top 40 (“Amazing” and “The Right Life” appeared on the dance charts, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” on the adult contemporary). So, anybody who already has Best: 1991-2004 will not be tempted by this, but anyone in the market for a Seal hits collection will find this generous and enjoyable. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£13.99

Pop - Released November 12, 2007 | Warner Bros.

It's hard to call System a comeback, as Seal never really went away (despite the long gaps between albums), but this 2007 album arrived with the greatest anticipation he's had since the mid-'90s, when his second eponymous album arrived just after the twin hits of "Crazy" and "Killer." All that anticipation had little do with Seal's music, it had more to do with his sudden re-emergence as tabloid fodder in the wake of his 2005 marriage to supermodel Heidi Klum. In the wake of the runaway reality TV hit Project Runway, Klum's star never burned brighter, and its luminescence spilled over to Seal as well, helping to propel him back to the spotlight. Stature so increased, Seal decided to ditch longtime producer Trevor Horn and hire Stuart Price, Madonna's collaborator for her calculatedly retro-disco Confessions on a Dance Floor. Seal employed Price for a similar purpose but instead of reaching way back into the electro past, he decided to revive the house-inflected sound of "Crazy" for System, right down to how the album's opener "If It's in My Mind, It's on My Face" rides a similar stuttering, surging sixteenth-note hook into its chorus. System may be a dance album but it never feels as if its meant for clubs and parties, unless they're upscale cocktail parties. This may not be as soft as the music he made after "Kiss from a Rose," but the feel is the same: it's calming, atmospheric music, even when the beat pulsates relentlessly, as on "Dumb" or "The Right Life." As this is an appealing sound, System goes down smooth, even if it's rather strange that it is so nostalgic for the pre-Clinton '90s, but this is so much a production piece that, apart from the acoustic "Rolling," the only song that stands outside of the sheer sonic gloss is "Wedding Day," a genuinely odd piece of kitsch duet with Heidi herself. She acquits herself well as the spouses exchange pledges of devotion, but it's just too silly to take seriously, yet it's so sincere in its convictions that it is more grabbing than the rest of the record. And it just may be appropriate that Heidi Klum dominates System, as she is the one responsible for Seal's return to the limelight, after all. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£13.99

Pop - Released November 8, 2004 | Warner Bros.

Reusing the cover from his 1994 self-titled release -- as opposed to his 1991 or 2003 self-titled release -- makes Seal's discography all the more confusing, but that's the only mistake made on this glorious collection. Seal's partnership with producer Trevor Horn has yielded some of the most elegantly soulful and richly textured pop music of the preceding 20 years. Best: 1991-2004 picks and chooses from their output perfectly, orders it in a way that makes sense, and remembers a couple compilation and soundtrack appearances to make itself worthwhile for Seal's faithful. If you've owned a radio at sometime in the past two decades, a quarter of the disc will be familiar. But radio's compressed delivery of "Crazy," "Kiss From a Rose," and others don't do these grand songs justice; plus, anytime you can put a Trevor Horn production on the headphones is a rewarding experience. The songs from the lesser Seal IV come off much stronger in these surroundings, and the inclusion of a bunch of album tracks you forgot about but shouldn't have speaks to the compilers' keen understanding of Seal's career. The new recording of Bacharach-David's "Walk On By" is sweet, fair, and no disappointment, but it's Seal's take on Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" or Echo & the Bunnymen's "Lips Like Sugar" that proves him an great interpreter of other's tunes and able to shine without Horn's help (the positive and empowering "My Vision" is the third and final track without Horn). The greatness of Seal's first two albums keeps the collection from being "the only Seal CD you'll ever need." Instead, Best: 1991-2004 is a fantastic overview of a hit-or-miss artist that soars when he's got the right material. This is all the right material and an unquestionable success. ~ David Jeffries
£13.99

Dance - Released February 17, 2009 | Warner Bros.

This stirring, old-school dance track, produced by Stuart Price (Madonna, Gwen Stefani) conjures the Seal of "Crazy" and other earlier hits, and rode high on the dance charts for several weeks during the autumn of 2007. The maxi-single features remixes by Prince (under his nom de studio, Thin White Duke), Orlando-based DJ Bill Hamel, and popular house DJ/producer Kaskade.
£13.99

Soul - Released February 17, 2009 | Warner Bros.

£10.99

Pop - Released August 19, 2003 | Warner Bros.

£13.99

Soul - Released May 31, 1994 | Warner Bros.

Fresh from his 1991 self-titled debut, Seal followed with another self-titled release. And true to form, it's another stunning work, although it becomes clear that a musical maturation has taken place. Produced by ex-Buggles frontman Trevor Horn (Pet Shop Boys, ABC, Yes, Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Seal is far more enchanting than his debut. True, Seal is a bit too relaxed at times, but aside from that criticism, the record is lush with harmonies and over-the-top melodies. "Don't Cry" flows with the luxuriant vibes of a hushed vocal and a bellowing string arrangement. Seal showcases his collaborative talent with "If I Could," a duet featuring Canadian folkie Joni Mitchell. "Kiss from a Rose" and "Prayer for the Dying" established Seal as a household name after both became radio and television mainstays. The soul is there, hauntingly similar to singer Terence Trent D'Arby. But what's so unique about Seal is his gift of transforming free-flowing songs into quick dancefloor tracks with a transcendent step into musical magic. His voice has a spell like that, and his second album reflects such skills. ~ MacKenzie Wilson
£13.99

Pop - Released November 4, 2011 | Reprise

On 2008's Soul, Seal went through the '60s soulbook with the assistance of producer David Foster. For its 2011 sequel, Seal moves on a decade and brings in Trevor Horn to helm its 11 tracks (sometimes in conjunction with Foster and his cohort Jochem van der Saag), a result that perhaps freshens proceedings up a bit but doesn't change them markedly. Soul 2 remains a faithful re-creation of classic soul, Horn applying a new coat of paint to the original arrangements, ensuring that this is a fresh, glistening environment for Seal. The singer doesn't pop against this backdrop, he blends into his surroundings, sounding as immaculately tailored as the instrumentation, never pushing the tunes away from the melodies you know by heart. While that might not make for especially compelling listening, it's certainly pleasant either as nostalgia or as high-end lifestyle music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£13.99

Dance - Released February 17, 2009 | Warner Bros.

£16.99

Pop - Released November 3, 2008 | Warner Bros.

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Although he worked in funk and blues bands early in his career, Seal is by no means a classic soul singer. He's been virtually everything else, starting with house music in his native London, and later turning to various flavors of adult contemporary and pop music. But the power and sincerity of his voice is indisputably great, which makes him a natural to sing soul music -- where passion and conviction are prerequisites. Soul, his tribute album to the great soul songs of all time, is a sincere, well-considered affair, which comes as a small surprise considering the usual type of tribute album (with an easy-to-market concept and an easy-to-digest list of songs). It's the height of ambition not only to cover "A Change Is Gonna Come," Sam Cooke's landmark of hopeful triumphalism, but to place it as the opening song. Seal's version isn't exactly innovative, but he carries it over well. His other choices fall into either of two slots: the inspirational ballad or the sensual love song. Examples of the former come with Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" (another civil rights anthem to place alongside "A Change Is Gonna Come"), James Brown's turgid "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," and Ben E. King's "Stand by Me." (The last is the only unwise song selection; it's practically impossible to wring anything new out of that standard.) The other category, the sensual love song, includes Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," two of Al Green's hits, and one from the Philly soul canon ("If You Don't Know Me by Now"). What makes Soul an overall success isn't just Seal's caressing vocals and obvious knowledge of how to interpret these songs faithfully without drifting away; it's the subtle yet effective production work of 15-time Grammy-winning producer David Foster. Although his work of the 2000s for Michael Bublé and Josh Groban wasn't going to instill hope in the hearts of listeners, he does plenty of good work here, with earthy, organic arrangements and funky beats that are slightly clipped for a contemporary feel. Wisely, he fills in just a few of the portions of each song, relying on most listeners' familiarity with these classics to fill in the gaps. ~ John Bush