Dan Seals - Harbinger

edited December 2022 in Year-1982


ARTIST: Seals, Dan
ALBUM: Harbinger
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: SD 19336
YEAR: 1982


LINEUP: Dan Seals - vocals * Dan Huff, Duncan Cameron, Jon Goin, Larry Byrom, Rafe VanHoy, Steve Gibson - guitars * James Stroud - drums * Kelly Wilson, Bobby Ogden, Randy McCormick, Shane Keister, Farrell Morris - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Can't Get You Out Of My Mind * 02 I Could Be Lovin' You Right Now * 03 It's Not Gonna Be That Easy * 04 In My Heart * 05 It Will Be Alright * 06 I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love Again * 07 Once In A While * 08 Up To Me * 09 Not Every Heart Succeeds * 10 Bad News * 11 Harbinger, Sage Or Fool


This was the second solo album for Dan Seals, following 1980's West Coast influenced 'Stones' which saw him use the 'England' moniker for the last time.

Musically it was an extension of the AOR sound both Seals and John Ford Coley had developed on their final album together, 1978's 'Dr Heckle and Mr. Jive'. 'Stones' used mostly outside writers, with familiar names like Paul Bliss, Peppy Castro and Tom Snow among the credits.

'Harbinger' followed in the same fashion and is an even more accomplished AOR serving from the late Seals. Of course he would switch to country following this offering, but this is a truly lost gem, another memorable release from the great year of 1982.

The Songs

Seals' name appears on three of the eleven tracks, but it's arguably the selections from other writers that make this so successful.

'Can't Get You Out Of My Mind' was an unsuccessful single, but it's pure West Coast class, ranking up there with the likes of David Roberts and Toto.The spoken word verses are different for this genre, but the brilliant music makes it work.

On the lighter side of the AOR fence is 'I Could Be Loving You Right Now', a nice Player influenced track co-written by country artist Pam Tillis.

Seals continues on this direction for the sublime AOR of 'It's Not Gonna Be That Easy', another easy-listening melodic treat. Rick Bowles' name is credited on the excellent 'In My Heart', which melodically is similar to Seals and Coley's 'In It For Love' from a few years earlier.

Seals has a crack at Airplay's 'It Will Be Alright' but it doesn't hit the heights of the original. In Seals' defense I don't think any cover could do it justice. Seals' name appears as writer for the first time on 'I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love Again', a sweeping ballad with parping synths all over the place.

The albums masterpiece however is the Alan Tarney penned 'Once In A While', which quite simply is one of the best AOR tracks you're ever likely to hear. The whole song is an exercise in melodic genius, the chorus one of the best I've ever heard. It was originally recorded by Cliff Richard on his 'Wired For Sound' album, but Seals transforms it into must hear territory. He puts Cliff to shame on this one.

Following this is almost impossible but 'Not Every Heart Succeeds' comes close, yet another tasty AOR composition that will delight those that have never heard this song.

Seals contributes the last two tracks, one of which 'Bad News' shows his future country influenced direction while 'Harbinger, Sage and Fool' is almost mystical, conjuring up images of classic America or Poco. A curious way to end the album, but great atmosphere prevails through the four minutes.

In Summary

As documented elsewhere here at Glory Daze, Seals would take the leap into pure melodic country for 1983's 'Rebel Heart'. It signaled the end of Seals' AOR run, but to suggest the melody was forgotten would be untrue.

It's worth pointing out that this and 'Stones' are not country albums at all. 'Harbinger' is the pick and it fits perfectly into the 1982 aesthetic of classic AOR. This deserves to be considered one of the best of that year, despite the quality of the competition.

It might have been a sales flop but the quality is beyond dispute. It's a lasting testament to what a great talent Seals was.

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