Little Village Foundation – 2017
13 tracks; 52 minutes
Paul DeLay passed away in 2007 so it is strangely appropriate that this CD, recorded ten years before his death, should see the light of day ten years after his passing. Paul’s band had traveled to Norway in 1997, given a great performance and were flattered to find that they had been recorded and one of their tunes had appeared alongside BB King, Luther Allison and Robert Cray on a commemorative disc of the festival. It was years later that two members of the band thought to inquire whether tapes still existed of the whole performance and the Norwegians responded in the affirmative. So, after all these years we have a new Paul DeLay recording to enjoy.
Paul came from the Pacific Northwest and his high quality band of the time was based in Portland, Oregon. Alongside Paul’s harmonica and vocals we have Louis Pain on B3, Peter Damman on guitar, Dan Fincher on guitar, Mike Klobas on drums and John Mazzocco on bass. Paul wrote all the material here bar one Muddy Waters cover, the members of the band chipping in on a few tunes.
After a short introduction we are straight into the short “Come On With It” which acts as a warm-up for the band. Initial sound quality problems improve on “Wealthy Man” in which Paul declares that he may not be rich but he is doing fine with his girl’s affections while Peter lays down a fine solo. Dan Fincher’s sax is a great asset on all the material here, adding depth to the arrangements and joining Paul in creating what sounds at times like a horn section and his work is impressive on “Nice and Strong” which also features John’s bass to strong effect.
Above all what comes out strongly here is Paul’s personality, not only in his exuberant playing but also in his obvious delight at the reception he is getting and his humorous asides. In a section entitled “Paul Speaks” he introduces the band and then apologizes for his appearance, caused by British Airways’ loss of his luggage (very embarrassing for a Brit reviewer!). The sole cover follows, an extended reading of the slow Muddy Waters blues “Come Home Baby” which features Paul’s mellow harp work. “Rainy Marie” adds some Cajun rhythms and “I Can’t Quit You No” keeps the band rocking. The pace drops for “What Went Wrong”, a soulful ballad about a deteriorating relationship which Paul sings well with Peter and Dan playing well in unison but things get rocking again on the bouncing shuffle “Say What You Mean”.
Paul introduces “I Know What You Mean” in humorous fashion and it provides an interesting tune with John’s bubbling bass and Louis’ organ stabs providing great support for Peter to cut loose on his solo. The song also gives Paul plenty of opportunity to have fun with his vocals, as can be heard by his chuckles at the end. The touching “I’m Gonna Miss Talking To You” is an emotional ballad with lovely playing from the whole band, a song that was clearly written with a broken romance in mind but now takes on a different dimension when you think of Paul’s untimely passing. “Love On A Roll” is a barn-storming finale that has solos for everybody though Paul sounds like he is suffering vocally at the end of the show.
The many fans of Paul DeLay’s playing will be delighted that these tapes were recovered to make a fine memorial to his playing and personality.