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Published: 2005/05/08
by Karl Kukta

Melting Pot – Melvin Seals

Rainman 5012

Melvin Seals is best known for his ear-splitting grin, trademark shades, and 15 years of organ work with the Jerry Garcia Band. But who among us could have foreseen that Mr. Seals would also reveal himself to be an '80s superstar in waiting — a front-man whose long-awaited debut album, Melting Pot, rivals the best work of Glen Frey, Joe Cocker, Sister Sledge, Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville…even Eddie Raven?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Melting Pot is that rarest of creations: an anachronism that refines and enhances our memory and appreciation of a time without our ever actually having to revisit it (...whew…). Garcia fans expecting an album of JGB-style material will no doubt be disappointed to find that the MO here is an organ & synth-dripping hybrid of R&B, pop, country, bluesy rock, piano bar grooves and balladry. Seals and company embrace the stew that is/was mainstream ’80s music, and — with aplomb — deliver 11 tracks that sound like nothing else being recorded today.

Seals does tip his hat to Garcia on the bubbly "Celebrate" (which also features a rare turn at lead vocals for Melvin), but elsewhere the material is much more suitable for VH-1 nostalgia programming. "I Don't Know Why" will likely have listeners yearning to be dancing on the ceiling, and "Travellin' Man" should encourage more than a few to leave their hats on. Melting Pot is also the perfect impetus for group games like Make Your Own ’80s video. Good starting points are "Woman With an Attitude" and "Hands." But to make it more fun, try not to rely too heavily on "Rock the Cradle of Love" and "We are the World"/"Man in the Mirror," respectively, for the framework.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that Melting Pot was an album made by a top-notch wedding band (somewhere in the $3-$5K range). But clearly I do. Seals is appealing here to the crowd who long ago wore out their copies of Knee Deep in the Hoopla and Can’t Slow Down, and are looking to revisit their a time that is gone, but not forgotten.

Are you one of those people? If so, count yourself blessed.

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