Lee Oskar

The Best of Lee Oskar [Avenue]

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In the late '70s and early '80s, Lee Oskar recorded several decent solo albums while continuing to be a member of War. The harmonica player/composer was an integral part of War's sound, and his solo albums weren't a major departure from that band's more relaxed output. The thing Oskar lacked as a solo artist were major hit singles -- his albums tended to sound a lot like War's album tracks, and he never delivered a solo single that had the radio-friendly immediacy of "Why Can't We Be Friends," "All Day Music" or "Slipping into Darkness." Spanning 1976-1983, The Best of Lee Oskar isn't a collection of hit singles, but paints a likable picture of Oskar as an album-oriented artist. You won't find a lot of hard-driving funk à la "Galaxy" on this 1999 CD -- from vocal numbers like "San Francisco Bay" to instrumentals such as "More Than Words Can Say," "Before the Rain" and "Sunshine Keri," this collection emphasizes the laid-back and congenial. None of this material is well known, although Oskar's mellow inclinations earned him some attention in quiet storm circles. For War fans who overlooked Oskar's own albums, The Best of Lee Oskar wouldn't be a bad introduction to his solo output.

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