Delta Groove 2015
14 tracks; 52 minutes
Rick Vito has been around for some years, making his name in the early 90’s incarnation of Fleetwood Mac and then producing a series of solid solos albums as well as making some stellar guest appearances with artists such as Bob Seger – that’s Rick’s slide on “Like A Rock”. On Rick’s first Delta Groove album Jim Hoke plays sax throughout and Charles ‘Mojo’ Johnson drums, with Rick Reed replacing him on one track, and Dan Serafini adds B3 on one cut: Rick plays everything else, all guitars, bass, keys and vocals. Rick wrote most of the material, there are three covers and the album was recorded in Nashville with Rick producing.
Variety is the name of the game here as Rick ranges across delta blues, Chicago blues, rock and roll and New Orleans rhythms and proves himself a more than capable vocalist. The opening six tracks prove the point: the title track kicks things off with a swampy beat, trash can drums and plenty of Rick’s trademark slide with Hawaiian tones as Rick reckons that he has the “Mojo On My Side” and that his conquest of the girl is therefore inevitable. The cover of Magic Sam’s “Easy Baby” is really well done with Jim Hoke’s sax underpinning Rick’s guitar stylings on a relaxed take on the classic tune before “Pretty Women” takes us into pure rock and roll territory on a tune that sounds like it must have been written in the 50’s but is a Vito original and a definite winner with this reviewer! “My House” features Dan Serafini’s B3 and describes Rick’s home improvement project on a funky rocker before we get “Missy Brown”, Rick’s steel guitar supported only by minimal percussion, bass and foot stomps, a piece of Delta blues in which Rick is warning off anyone who tries to get close to his lady. Closing out the initial run of six tracks is “Life Was Just A Struggle” which takes us to the Crescent City of its authors, Chris Kenner and Frank Douglas, with Rick’s trademark slide and Jim’s sax both heavily featured.
“Femme Fatale” is the first of three instrumentals here and it’s a feature for some moody slide playing, Rick double-tracked against himself, the twin slides being followed all the way by the sax. “Who Were You Thinking Of” takes us back to the blues as Rick gets suspicious that his lover has another man in her life. “House Party” returns to rock and roll and it’s another outstanding track with Rick’s slide playing terrific and his lyrics name-checking some of the greats of the blues as a source for the music at this particular shindig – who wouldn’t want to be there?
The third cover is Arlester Christian’s “Let A Woman Be A Woman”, a chunky piece of NO funk with a great sax arrangement and is followed by a second instrumental, the strolling “She’s Got It All”, Rick’s slide crying out the refrain over more solid sax accompaniment. “Help Me Lord” returns to the Delta on a song that is a close relative of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me”, stripped back to the basics very effectively with Rick solo on steel guitar. The rockabilly “You Can Run” is a fun track before Rick closes the album with a final instrumental entitled “River Of Blues” which opens with some distinctly eastern tones that make you think that the river here might be the Ganges. The tune then develops into a more recognizable blues format with Rick’s acoustic steel slide featured.
Overall this is a very listenable album with a good variety of styles covered, so it is definitely worth checking out.