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 /TiVo