In the case of Seal
's Live in Paris
, the CD with packed-in DVD format turns what would be a mediocre live album release into a desirable package. The DVD is by far the highlight of the set, since Seal's live show doesn't vary drastically from his recordings. There's very little improvisation and the arrangements stick as closely to the album versions as a five-piece can, which is a compliment since carrying off Trevor Horn
's ambitious productions with a small combo is no small feat. The CD also disappoints by chopping off Seal's versions of "Hey Joe" and "Deep Water," an intimate encore that looks and sounds triumphant on the DVD. Consider the CD a freebie for fans away from their televisions and consider the DVD first. The concert is captured well with shots around Paris and bits of Seal backstage tastefully inserted into the main program. The cameramen seem a little more infatuated with the female concertgoers than they should be, but not at the expense of the show, which is captured brilliantly from all angles. Seal's pleasant exchanges with the audience add the warm charisma missed on the CD, and while his voice isn't in A+ condition for the show, it doesn't crack and survives every demanding, dramatic ballad just fine. Live albums are rarely recommendable to anyone but the most devoted fans, but with the DVD, Live in Paris
rises above being a throwaway, stopgap release.