Rick Vito – Soulshaker
Vizztone – 2019
12 tracks; 46 minutes
Rick Vito is probably best remembered for the striking slide solo on Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock” and for his tenure in Fleetwood Mac between 1987-1991. However, Rick also has nine solo albums to his name and was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for his part in The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band’s Blue Again. On this album Rick wrote all but two songs (one with assistance from Steve Moos), handles the vocals, played all guitars and most bass and keys. Charles Harrison handles bass on two tracks, Mark Horwitz and Kevin McKendree play organ on three tracks; drums are by Charles ‘Mojo’ Johnson, Rick Reed replacing him on three cuts.
Throughout Rick’s slide work is to the fore, opening track “She’s Just Too Fine” having plenty of his individual style, a barrelling tune that moves along really well. Rick puts lots of echo on his vocal on moody ballad “I’ve Got A Secret” and really ups the tempo on the rocker “I Do Believe”, driven by drummer Rick Reed and organist Mark Horwitz. “World On Fire” paints a dark picture where “fires keep burning and children keep dying, Rick making a plea to God to send “more love to this world on fire”, played to a classic blues-rock riff with lots of slide accents. The first cover is “Doggin’ Around”, a 1960 B-side by Jackie Wilson, written by Lena Agree; Kevin McKendree’s organ provides a warm framework for Rick’s sinuous slide work on this instrumental version. Next up is a terrific rock and roll piece entitled “Dancin’ Little Sister” which sounds amazing, especially as it’s just Rick and drummer Charles!
Things get more serious on some of the remaining tracks, starting with the co-write with Steve Moos, “The Ball And Chain”, a stripped-back number with swampy rhythms and eerie slide that suit the relatively ‘heavy’ lyrics: “now there’s blood on the sun, tears on the moon, you know you’ll never be a free man soon. With blues in your soul, there’s your heart’s refrain and you know you’ll never leave the ball and chain.” After that rather dour song the upbeat gospel fervor of “I’m Going To Heaven” livens things up as Rick professes his faith over a raucous handclap and slide tune. The title track is another instrumental with multiple slide guitar parts before “Walking Shoes” which borrows the rhythm associated with modern re-workings of “Walking Blues” though the lyrics ponder how the Devil can tempt you, as he tempted Adam, a strong track with excellent guitar. In “Promise Land” Rick pledges to keep faith with his nearest and dearest as he walks through life towards that promised land, the track also demonstrating that Rick is as potent a slide player in acoustic mode as he is in electric. The album closes with a fine instrumental take on Sam Cooke’s immortal “A Change Is Gonna Come”.
Rick Vito is certainly one of the premier slide players around and demonstrates his skills well here on an album that has a lot to commend it.