This album was released last year, and reviewed originally by me for the Phoenix Blues Society's Blues News.
Paul 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 Devils Door is an absolute delight, taking the listener back to the sounds of Chicago in the 1950s. Why Oscher hasnt been recorded more frequently in the last 25 years is a total mystery to me! Having assembled a great backing band for the session, hes 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 theyre all good and youre going to try to find this album soon
anyway. If you cant find it in your favorite music store, try calling Viceroy
Entertainment at 212-465-2357.
--- Bill Mitchell
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