Way back in the early 70’s, Bruce Iglauer was sweeping up at the Jazz Record Mart one night when the phone rang. It was Wesley Race, one of Iglauer’s friends and a huge fan of the blues, calling from the Flamingo Club on the South Side of Chicago. When Iglauer picked up the phone, Race told him to listen and turned the phone receiver toward the bandstand. What Iglauer heard completely transformed his Alligator Records label. The label was originally intended to be a one-shot deal for Iglauer to record his favorite blues act, Hound Dog Taylor. Hearing this new act eventually contributed to making Alligator the most prominent, and prolific, blues label of the past thirty years. The fiery lead guitar and raw, intense vocals Iglauer heard belonged to Son Seals. Iglauer eventually recorded Seals in 1973, which led to seven more releases on Alligator, and Seals was hailed as one of the most original blues artists to emerge in years.
No one asked me, but if they did, my favorite live blues disc, bar none, of all time would have to be 1978’s Live and Burning, Seals‘ third Alligator release. The first time I popped this baby into my cassette player 16 years ago, I knew it would be my favorite as long as I had breath in my body. When I made the dreaded transition from cassettes to CDs several years later, the first duplicate purchase (owned on both cassette and CD) I made was Live and Burning for the following reasons.
When the band rips through “Hot Sauce” to close things out, you feel like you’ve been a part of the whole thing. That’s what the best live discs in any genre make you feel and Live and Burning fits the bill perfectly. Seals would do other live discs (a hard-to-find set from the 80’s on the old Blues R&B label is worth finding, and another Alligator live set in the late 90‘s), but both paled in comparison to Live and Burning, which captures a blues man at the top of his game.
-- Graham Clarke
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