on May 13, 2005
Bands and their reputations live and die in the marketing. The Moody Blues could have been sold as soft rock lightweights with a few uptempo numbers, but they did it the right way: they presented themselves as a rock band that knew how to mellow out and explore different kinds of beautiful music.
Seals & Crofts were trapped on the opposite side of the road: these guys knew how to rock out, and were expert musicians with tremendous depth of songwriting and the kind of expansive vision usually associated with art-rock bands like Yes and ELP. But they could never escape their marketing as "easy listening." That's a shame, because they deserve a higher place than history has afforded them in the rock music echelon. The depth of their music, the quality of their voices, the superiority of their sound, and the breadth of their musical range left us some great music, and their Greatest Hits is even greater than the sum of its parts.
Forget the catchiness of even the two or three most cloying songs included here. "Summer Breeze" is right at the top with all great songs of the last 50 years or more; "Diamond Girl" is as good as popular music gets; and "We May Never Pass This Way (Again)" boasts a chorus as deep as anything that was ever played on 70s radio--without using any words other than the title.
"Hummingbird" and "East of Ginger Trees," among others, are unapologetically committed to a spiritual search, but without the dippy aimlessness of so much of that era's music. These down-to-earth Texans are passionately committed, well-read Baha'is who emphasized such novel ideas as peace, love and understanding.
The real genius of this collection is in the sequencing. While some of the original S&C albums contained a couple of "wholesome" or almost jokey songs (i.e. not the kind you want to hear on a rock record), and any dangerous power inherent in the music tended to be sequenced out, this collection smartly closes with the thought-provoking "We May Never Pass This Way," having taken us through the perfect balance (in the perfect order) of big hits, spiritual journeys, and intriguing side trips.
A proper re-issue would add the huge hit "Get Closer," the Philip Steir remix of "Summer Breeze," and perhaps one or two other pieces, but for a repeatable listen of ten songs that mostly represent this duo at their best, this is an excellent collection that still holds up.
on August 24, 2001
Seals and Crofts are one of the most underappreciated and unfairly maligned bands in rock history. Their wonderful harmonies sounded like a cross between Simon & Garfunkel and the Bodeans, and their musicianship was often outstanding, especially in earlier albums. The arrangements frequently were flavored with hints of bluegrass as well as international (especially middle-eastern) sounds, the playing could be hot, and sometimes, they even rocked with surprising authority! Nowadays they are generally dismissed by the critics as lightweight, "lite-rock" pabulum, and frankly a good deal of their material (mostly the later stuff) warrents this reputation, but if you separate the wheat from the chaff you will find a sizable body of great music. Unfortunately, you won't find much of it on the slight "Greatest Hits". Yes, in 1975 when this collection first appeared on vinyl, it was a reasonable sampling of their biggest hits to date, but by the time it was reissued on CD, the record label really did Seals & Crofts and their fans a major disservice by not taking advantage of the extra capacity of the CD format to flesh out the collection with later hits ("Get Closer", "My Fair Share") and key album tracks (Such as the instramental "Wisdom" from the "Diamond Girl" LP, or more selections from the wonderful side 1 of their best album, "Year of Sunday"). Nonetheless, for the time being most of the Seals and Crofts catelog is unavailable on CD, so this collection is the best that's out there. But it could have been, and should have been, so much better.
This is likely the most under-appreciated of the groups populating the popular music scene in the late sixties and early seventies. Like another fringe duo, Brewer and Shipley, whose evocative lyrics and memorable arrangements (which are largely unavailable today, especially their terrific "Shake Off The Demon" album) propelled them into the spotlight with its like "One Toke Over The Line" and "Tarkio Road", Brewer and Shipley were never taken as seriously as the content of their music deserved. Much of what they write and sing is organized around their religious beliefs, and this is easy to discover in most of what they say in the songs populating this greatest hits album. Their problem seemed to be that they encased a lot of meaningful lyrics into a very sweet and light sound that critics mistook for lightweight material, and they consequently scoffed at them. Yet their fame and popularity endures, and is deserved for a group who dominated the charts with "Diamond Girl", "Hummingbird", "I'll Play For You", and "We May Never Pass This Way Again", all chart-toppers and mainly from a single album, "Summer Breeze". Of course, "Summer Breeze" itself was a number one hit, and is till a perennial favorite for FM play. Do yourself a favor and read the lyrics as you listen along, though, and you will discover what sweet, loving, and compassionate human beings these two erstwhile escapees from the deep poverty of the rural South really are. If you listen you just can't miss it. My personal favorites here are "Ruby Jean and Billie Lee" (their wives' names), and of course, "I'll Play For You". Let them play for you too, real soon. Add this wonderful compilation to your collection, and then enjoy it!
on July 16, 2007
Why is Warner re-releasing a 32-year-old, 40-minute Seals & Crofts "Greatest Hits" album that still doesn't contain "Get Closer" and "You're the Love," both of which were Top 20 hits? It was obsolete when it was first released on CD in 1987, and Warner hasn't spent a nickel to improve it in the 20 years since.
on August 4, 1999
Super collection of Jim Seals and Dash Crofts' hits. Unfortunately, Greatest Hits and Summer Breeze are the only CD's available in the U.S. I have a Diamond Girl import from Japan. In response to fans objections about exclusion of Get Closer, My Fair Share, etc. Those hits are from 1976 and 1977 respectively. Greatest Hits package was released in 1975. K-Tel produced an album and cassette of Greatest Hits that include ALL hits. Thankfully, I have a large collection of their albums which I play constantly. Since leaving the record business in 1980, the duo has devoted their energies toward spreading the Baha'i Faith. Jim Seals pioneered to Costa Rica and now lives on a coffee plantation there. Dash Crofts currently lives in Nashville, TN. They have produced Baha'i-related music over the years. Great music by GREAT people.
on July 24, 2007
We know that we have to wait until Sept. 18 for Wounded Bird to release several of the original LP's on CD for the first time ever, anywhere in the world. But what is the point of re-releasing this decades-old GH package?
They say that the reason why most of Seals & Crofts's catalog has yet to see the light of day on CD is because of the duo themselves. If this is true, shame on you guys! Over 25 years after CD's became available we are still waiting for a worthy retrospective or box set. I will surely buy the whole collection on CD, but I cannot believe that thre are not legions of people out there who would willingly buy a "Best of..." that includes "You're The Love", "My Fair Share", "Get Closer" and even more obscure albums tracks (but gems nevertheless) like "One More Time For The Goodtimes" and so many others. I did not know there was a 12" version of "You Are The Love", and I would love to be able to own it on CD. Rhino and/or Wounded Bird, please take note. (At this point I guess we should expect absolutely nothing from WB).
on July 20, 2007
The once-mighty Rhino offers more proof of why it is only a shadow of its former (great) self. The label collectors used to depend on for re-releasing product no one else would has now become just another WB subsidiary with the same major-label mentality. After botching up the long-awaited Roberta Flack collection to the point where past greatest hits packages of hers were actually superior, they now give us the latest greatly anticipated Seals & Croft hits package fresh with nothing more than a new slipcover!!! No "Get Closer", No "My Fair Share", No "Summer Breeze" remix from the "What is Hip" WB Compilation (which charted on Billboard's AC Top 30 in 2004), No "You're the Love" let alone the hard-to-come-by "You're The Love" 12" disco mix!!! in other words, THEY DID NOTHING!!! Rhino should rename themselves "Dinosaur" for their newfound (i.e., typical) corporate mindset. I am almost fearing what, or should I say what they won't do to the upcoming "Saturday Night Fever" reissue. Sorry, Rhino but YOU HAVE REALLY LOST IT!!!
on November 18, 2003
Seals and Crofts have, for no conceivable reason, missed out on the CD reissue program given to practically every other 70s artist, including a good many a damn sight less successful - artisically or commercially.
Other than this bare-bones collection only "Summer Breeze" (A good album, but far from their best) is available on CD, so if you're looking to get some S&C this is about your only choice (Although you should get SB as well, if only for "The Euphrates", one of their best songs ever).
What's here is, for the most part highly enjoyable - never liked "I'll Play For You" much (Although it comes from one of their best albums), but "Diamond Girl", "Hummingbird", "King Of Nothing" and "We May Never Pass This Way (Again)" are all flawless pop gems. The musicanship (including several future TOTO members) is outstanding, and the harmonies are fantastic. The lyrics are also noteworthy, containing a strong spiritual element that never becomes preachy, but instead adds an extra layer to the material.
This is recommended listening, but, if you have the patience, wait until somebody FINALLY releases a comprehensive collection -not to mention the rest of their albums.
on July 18, 2007
I've got to second the opinion of the the other reviewers. After all these years, you'd think that Time/Warner/Rhino could come up with a more comprehensive overview of the career of one of the 70's great duos. Hey, here's an idea--a full-length CD that includes ALL of the charted hits (such as Unborn Child, You're The Love, My Fair Share and Takin' It Easy). Better yet, why not a double CD anthology such as those by The Doobie Brothers, America and Bread--all Warner/Rhino releases? I know a box set would be too much to hope for. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait 'til September and get the reissues on Wounded Bird Records.
on June 30, 2004
Of the five albums the tracks on this disc were taken from, only one, "Summer Breeze" is still in print. That's too bad because even though this album is very worthy of its title, it's only a small sample of what this duo have accomplished as singer/songwriters. Of course their two most recognizeable hits "Summer Breeze" and "Diamond Girl" are here along with the Top 40 hits "Hummingbird", "We May Never Pass This Way (Again)" and "I'll Play For You"."Castles In The Sand" was also a minor hit. The track "Ruby Jean and Billie Lee" was written for their respective wives. They also had a controversial hit called "Unborn Child" which isn't here but "King Of Nothing" from the same album is. The other tracks "When I Meet Them" and "East Of Ginger Trees" are album cuts. "Get Closer" was a hit after this collection.
I've had the cassette of this album for over ten years and just recently purchased the CD version but I can only imagine how much better this would sound if Warner Bros. or Rhino would step in and remaster this along with the rest of their catalog. It's been done with other artists already and for this duo it's high time.