Midnight Son

Son Seals

Midnight Son

The album that established Son's reputation nationally. Scorching guitar, powerful original songs. "A giant step by a major blues talent"--ROLLING STONE

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1. I Believe 4:12
2. No, No Baby 3:45
3. Four Full Seasons Of Love 2:48
4. Telephone Angel 5:25
5. Don't Bother Me 3:49
6. On My Knees 4:56
7. Don't Fool With My Baby 3:01
8. Strung Out Woman 3:43
9. Going Back Home 7:04

Son Seals, Guitar and Vocals
Steve Plair, Rhythm Guitar
Alberto Gianquinto, Keyboards
Harry ''Snapper'' Mitchum, Bass
Bert "Top Hat'' Robinson, Drums
Kenneth Cooper, Trumpet
Reggie Allmon, Tenor Saxophone
Bill McFarland, Trombone

Produced by Son Seals, Bruce Iglauer and Richard McLeese
Recorded and mixed at Curtom Studios, Chicago
Freddie Breitberg, Engineer
Album design by Roger Harvey
Photos by Mark Robinson and Joe Rowley at the Darkroom

Thanks to Roy Filson, Jim O'Neal, Jan Loveland, Dick Shurman and Don McLeese
Special thanks to Bob Koester of Delmark Records
Very special thanks to Charles "Mr. Leo" Turman for encouragement, advice and brake relining

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, Son Seals plays at Queen Bee's, a blues club on Chicago's South Side. Most weekends, he's on the road.

For a bluesman like Son, going on the road doesn't mean whizzing around the country in a private Lear jet. It doesn't mean Denver today, San Francisco tomorrow, and Los Angeles the next day. Rolling Stone photographers can't capture Son's every backstage move. Not once has Son been whisked away in a Mercedes Benz to the Celebrity Suite at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

When Son and his band go on the road, they load up the instruments and amplifiers themselves, at two in the morning, after their last set at Queen Bee's. Son then heads for a nearby rib joint to get some coffee. Two or three cups later, he's as ready as he's ever going to be for the eight hour drive to Des Moines in his secondhand Bell Telephone van.

There's nothing exotic about the trip from Chicago to Des Moines. Straight out Interstate 80, past Joliet, LaSalle, and Davenport, stopping only for gas and more coffee. Around noon, Son and his band of merry, overcaffeinated bluesmen finally pull into town. They stop for a quick greasy-burger then head straight for the Motel 6 to get a couple hours of sleep. Each of their suites at the motel comes fully equipped with a coin operated black and white TV.

That night, as Son walks onstage at the club, he's not thinking about a Jacuzzi whirlpool bath in a Hyatt Regency Celebrity Suite. He's not thinking about a bottle of Dom Perignon in the back seat of a Mercedes Benz. He's thinking only about playing. What else is there to think about? The bad coffee? The coin operated TV? The rent, groceries, and other exciting things he'll be able to pay for when he gets home?

Son hits that first note on his guitar hard. He hits it again, then slams his hand high up the neck and wrings out a harsh cluster of notes. Each is raw and clear and pierces through the club, all the way back to the johns. As the last note is dying, Son turns, nods, and the band comes in behind him.

Already Son's beginning to sweat. Whether he's performing in Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Stockholm, or Des Moines, Son's playing is always intense and hot, right from the start.

For sixteen years, Son's been playing and singing his fierce, unrelenting style of blues, night after night. He started out at the internationally unknown Chez Paris club in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the age of eighteen, he went on the road with legendary guitarist Earl Hooker and then with Albert King. He moved to Chicago's South Side in 1971 and began playing in the city's countless blues clubs, often jamming with Junior Wells, Hound Dog Taylor and James Cotton. In 1973, Son recorded his first album; that album took him back on the road, this time as the leader of his own band.

Sixteen years of playing, night after night. Each night, Son hits those first notes hard. Each night, the heat keeps building. Through the slow, harsh blues. Through the raunchy funk tunes. Through the wildly hard rocking shuffles. By midnight the club's full and the crowd's screaming and stomping. By midnight, Son's burning.

-- Richard McLeese




Rhythm guitarist Steve Plair, 27, played with Scotty and the Rib Tips and J.B. Hutto and the Hawks before joining Son's band about a year ago. Snapper Mitchum has been with Son for the last two years; he's also played bass behind Junior Wells, Hound Dog Taylor and Johnny Dollar. Bert Robinson, 22, has backed bluesmen like King Edward and Johnny Dollar, and has also toured with soul groups like the Independents. For keyboards, Son chose Alberto Gianquinto. Gianquinto, 33, has toured and recorded with James Cotton and B.B. King, and has written for and toured with Santana. Recently he returned to Chicago, where he's jammed with Otis Rush and Fenton Robinson, as well as playing solo gigs. Still in their twenties and early thirties, the members of the horn section are nonetheless studio veterans. All of the horn arrangements were worked out between Son and the horn players, and were an integral part of Son's concept for this album, not an overdubbed afterthought.

Although Son had recorded a previous album for Alligator, Midnight Son, released in 1976, was the record that really started his career rolling. With a rave review in Rolling Stone, it took Son out of Queen Bee's and put him on the road full time. He's been an internationally touring bluesman ever since, and continued to perform and record the same kind of honest, hard-hitting contemporary blues contained in this album.
--Bruce Iglauer, April, 1990