Thursday, January 12, 2012

No. 875 – Kiss From a Rose

Performer: Seal
Songwriters: Seal
Original Release: Seal (II)
Year: 1994
Definitive Version: None, although I’d love to find a bootleg from 1994.

To my template of basic information above, I decided to include definitive version, because sometimes a particular recording of a song makes it stand out—even though other versions are mediocre.

I think of this whenever I hear this song, because I saw Seal twice in the span of a year in 1994-1995—both pre- and post-Batman—and each time he did this song. And each time he did it totally differently, and neither sounded like the studio version.

The first time, this song was played fairly early in the set, and it came at the conclusion of a run where Seal did several songs that didn’t follow the album versions much. Killer, in fact, was completely unrecognizable if you didn’t know the words. Kiss From a Rose was closer to the original but played about half a beat quicker with more of a booming bass and guitar and less orchestral swell. In short, it sounded hard and funky. It was the song of the night, in my inexpert opinion.

A year later, just before Debbie and I saw him again, Seal played The Tonight Show, and although we were a Letterman household, we tuned in for Seal’s performance. He played a totally stripped down Kiss—acoustic guitars and some strings. It was light and bland. Unfortunately, that was the exact same version that he played at the second show in the middle, and if I may don my Lester Bangs cap for a second, I’d say that his move away from dance and rock to soft balladeering, which carried over to subsequent albums, suited him like Bozo’s getup. Seal definitely is better when he channels his inner Jimi Hendrix than his inner Nat King Cole.

Then again, his inner Nat landed him Heidi Klum, so what do I know?

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