Super rare video of Seals & Crofts. The video quality is poor, but is the best I could find. I did some restoration on the audio and it’s excellent. This is for all the Seals and Crofts fans out there as we try to track down their classic live performances.
In their day, Seals & Crofts sold a lot of records, but their day passed quickly and they’ve been shuffled off into the dustbin of Rock history, to paraphrase Trotsky. They were dismissed by the critics because they had the audacity to mix a handful of hit songs into their eclectic bag of songs. If they hadn’t, S&C might be acknowledged as among the obscure founders of New Age music.
Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts were backwoods boys from Texas who got into the music business as part of the non-recording road band version of The Champs, who were known for their seminal hit Tequila. Jimmy played sax and Dash drums. But as the sixties faded and The Champs disbanded, Jimmy and Dash had begun both a personal and musical odyssey that would take on them a journey far removed from their Texas roots.
Like many of the spiritual vagrants of the era, the boys stumbled into non-traditional religion, embracing the Bahá’í Faith, whose origins lie in Persia. Their interest in alternative religion led them to alternative music as they began to mix Middle Eastern rhythms with American Pop. Jimmy had switched to guitar and Dash played the mandolin, but with a decidedly un-Bluegrass feel to it. Dash’s use of the mandolin predated Jimmy Page’s more famous forays into the instrument, giving it an almost sitar feel.
The early results, on the long defunct TA label, were intriguing, but too off beat to attract much in the way of sales. Still, the boys persisted, landing a contract with a major label, Warner Brothers. These early efforts are worth listening too as S&C seemed bent on the craft of songwriting over hit making at this stage of their career.
Seasoned road warriors, they built an audience while honing their songwriting until they scored big in 1972 with the album Summer Breeze and the Top Ten hit of the same name. To the casual listener, S&C sounded like a nice middle-of-the-road act, but if you bought the albums and listened closer, the guys were spinning out innovative takes on American and World Music with lyrics layered with soul searching overtones intermingled with odd character studies.
Their 1973 album, Diamond Girl, followed suit with another slick hit mixed in among the more tantalizing gems. In 1974, they stumbled, attempting to proselytize with the neatly written, but ill timed for the Rock market, Unborn Child. A few classic songs are interspersed, but the duo had lost their way. Their next outing, I’ll Play For You, was an out and out attempt at Pop stardom, which they momentarily achieved with the plasticine hit of the same name. But in the process, they lost the indefinable element that had made their music so unique. After a handful of woeful efforts in the late seventies, the pair disbanded, leaving behind only the wisp of their hit songs for the uninitiated. But those of us who were fans, we remember them fondly.
When the compact disc boom arrived in the nineties and every no-name artist from Podunk was getting their music re-released on cd, S&C were shunted aside, WB only grudgingly releasing a greatest hits collection and finally Summer Breeze later in the decade. In more recent years, Rhino and Wounded Bird have finally released their entire catalog on CD, but a comprehensive multi-CD collection with alternate takes has yet to surface.
By balancing a precarious bridge between Progressive, Pop and Country-Rock, S&C earned no champions in the Rock underground. They were too un-hip to be embraced by the snobs of the Rock press of the era such as Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone. Their soft spoken personas and gentle, introspective music was easily drowned out by the Zeppelins and Disco Queens who they competed with on the charts. Seals & Crofts contribution to New Age and World Music has yet to be acknowledged, but I know that their offbeat sounds helped educate my teenaged ear in the seventies as I’m sure it did many others. And for that, I am grateful.