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Son Seals: Lettin’ Go

The great Son Seals is back! After being shot in the face in 1997 by an angry wife (an ugly incident that required radical reconstruction of his jaw) and losing part of his left leg last year due to diabetes, the Chicago blues giant has returned with Lettin’ Go (Telarc Blues 83501; 71:59). Now, I know that you gotta pay your dues to play the blues, but this is ridiculous. Nevertheless, his playing and singing is stronger than ever. So now when Seals sings, “I know that she was evil, people told me she was mean” on “Bad Blood,” I’m guessing that it’s autobiographical. Seals’ signature staccato guitar attack and gruff vocals on the cathartic “Let It Go,” the vengeful “I Got Some of My Money” and “Funky Bitch” never sounded so ferocious. I’m guessing those are autobiographical, too. Seals rocks with an early Sun Records feel on “Osceola Rock” and delivers with passion on the mournful slow blues “Bad Luck Child,” underscored by Al Kooper’s moody B-3 organ cushion. For a change of pace, he delves into some slice-of-life storytelling on the acoustic ballad “Dear Son.” But perhaps the most revealing song here is the wrenching “Love Had a Breakdown.” Again, autobiographical? Lettin’ Go is Seals’ most powerful work since his 1984 classic, Bad Axe.

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