"...bringing the thrill back to ascii"
Editor/Publisher: Al Handa
===============May 1996 Vol 3, No.3===================
Classic Blues Reviews

THE PAUL deLAY BAND: "American Voodoo" (Criminal Records 1984)
Paul DeLay's one of those very well regarded, "musician's musician" types. This Portland-based harp player has recorded some very well done records, but fame has always eluded him. However, among harp afficiandos, Paul is often mentioned, and his incredibly fluid chromatic work is nothing short of genius. Paul strings together solos that would make you swear a horn player was blowing away until you realize that it is unmistakably an amplified harp.

Also, he has the gift of a gruff, '60s style STAX voice that sounds as black as they come. Most singers can shout their way through an up tempo soul number, Paul can sing a ballad the way Eddie Floyd used to.

The first time I saw him, it was at one of Tom Mazzolini's "Battle of the Harp" festivals. The opening acts were Charlie Musselwhite and Curtis Salgado, which made me wonderjust who this guy was who could be top billing over those two. I saw his new "Teasin" record in the lobby, and even bought oneof his T-Shirts, more because it had a cool design, and it was the only one that was black. Otherwise, he was a complete mystery.

Paul walked on, and instead of the traditional briefcase for harps, he used an "E.T." schoolboy lunch pail, and looked alot like Spanky, except six feet tall. I was stunned. Was this guy a comedy act??? Paul pulled out a chromatic, and the band swung into a breakneck swing boogie. He blew out a complex string of notes, in a fluid flow I'd never heard in a chromatic player before (except for maybe Magic Dick), and I realized this was no ordinary chromatic player who tapes the button down and plays it like a regular harp.

His Teasin' record didn't sell, unfortunately, but if you ever find it, it's as good a set of rock and roll and swing blues as you'll ever find. I imagine it sold well at the Harp Battle though.

Anerican Voodoo, which was a 1984 release, shows him in the Stax/blues vein. It opens with "Mine All Mine," a blues shuffle that sounds above average until Paul kicks in with a dynamic chromatic solo. It becomes an exceptional shuffle at that point. A fast, Chuck Berry style "Harpoon Man" follows, with even faster harp, and a chugging beat like "30 Days" or something. A solid ballad, "Get Yourself Another Fool" follows, with a New Orleans stomper called "Heart Breaker" right after. A hard edged Stax-style ballad, "Cry To Me," comes next, and with the Booker T. organ touches, is superior listening. I'd love to hear Paul sing an entire record of Eddie Floyd numbers sometime."Sho' Miss You Baby" comes in next, and the side ends with"Don't Drink," a really fun Amos Milburn type swing boogie that sort of presages the "Teasin'" release. Those who love old Milburn numbers will love this one.

"Signed, Sealed, and Delivered," opens the next side, and isn't the old Motown classic, but a New Orleans style funk number. A medium tempo blues rocker called, "Turn Your Lights Down Low," comes next, and that leads to the unusual, but very inventive Zydeco-flavored rocker, "Rode Myself Crazy." Great keyboard work supports a great chugging harp line by DeLay.

"Comin' Down With The Blues," is next, a soul ballad with a fine harp solo to open the arrangement, with high bent notes that impress. "Every Night" takes the tempo into a swing feel, with a lot of call and response vocals (something also that was explored in Teasin'), and then Paul and the Band end the set with a great slow blues.

Paul's been out of the scene for some years due to some difficulties that hampered his career, but I've heard that he's becoming active again. That's good news, cause I think that if he keeps playing, you'll all eventually get a chance to hear this artist who has a talent that needs to be heard by all.

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