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September 1997

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Paul Oscher
Knockin' On the Devil's Door
Viceroots

This album was released last year, and reviewed originally by me for the Phoenix Blues Society's Blues News.

Paul Oscher - Knockin' On The Devil's DoorPaul Oscher has always been one of those mystery bluesmen, someone who showed up as harmonica player on some Muddy Waters’ recordings in the late 1960s and then faded back into obscurity. Actually, Oscher has since been playing around New York City under the pseudonym “Brooklyn Slim.”

Knockin’ On The Devil’s Door is an absolute delight, taking the listener back to the sounds of Chicago in the 1950s. Why Oscher hasn’t been recorded more frequently in the last 25 years is a total mystery to me! Having assembled a great backing band for the session, he’s recorded one of the best blues albums of the year. Oscher plays more guitar than harmonica on the album, and captures that Muddy sound quite well. Also on the CD are former Muddy drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, ex-James Cotton pianist Dave Maxwell, bassist “Mudcat” Ward and harmonica player Steve Guyger.

Most of the tunes on the CD are Oscher originals, with a few Muddy and Robert Johnson compositions thrown in for good measure. The disk starts out with a downhome “Debra Lou,” an original which easily could have come from the Waters songbook. “Sugar Babe” is a spirited number with a heavy New Orleans drum beat and the two harp players trading licks back and forth. “Sonnymoon For Two” is a dirge-like instrumental featuring Oscher on bass harmonica. I could go on and mention more tunes, but they’re all good and you’re going to try to find this album soon anyway. If you can’t find it in your favorite music store, try calling Viceroy Entertainment at 212-465-2357.

--- Bill Mitchell

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