Rick Vito

Rick Vito

On his latest album, Cadillac Man, Rick Vito includes a song titled “You Can’t Stop A Guitar (From Playing the Blues).” That could easily be the motto of Vito’s long and successful musical career, and it’s certainly the welcome theme of the Grammy-nominated guitarist’s first album in five years.

Vito is probably best known for his role in the legendary supergroup Fleetwood Mac from 1987-1991, when he revived the rootsy blues feeling of the band’s early years. In 2008 he partnered with Mick Fleetwood to form the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band and was nominated for a 2010 Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues category as both artist and producer for the album Blue Again.

Vito’s unique slide and lead guitar work has enhanced hundreds of recordings and performances by such legendary artists as Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall, Albert Collins, John Prine, and many more. Seger called his slide guitar solo on the song “Like A Rock,” “the single most spectacular solo I’d ever heard.” That’s the solo that got massive exposure as the guitar voice on a Chevrolet truck commercial that ran from 1991 to 2004.

Vito has been cranking out solo albums since 1992, and Cadillac Man is his first since 2019’s Soulshaker. This release of a dozen tracks shows off his haunting slide technique, his songwriting skills with some fresh new material, a welcome dip back into his musical past and one magical cover.

The album slides open with a gorgeous minute of tasty guitar on the sturdy shuffle of “Love Crazy Baby,” featuring another sparkling solo midway, offering a solid sample of what’s coming down the tracks. Next up is “It’s Two A.M.,” Vito’s W.C. Handy Award-winning Song of the Year from 2001, sung then by Shemekia Copeland – “Yeah, I looked at the clock, I saw the time / I heard a voice ring out from the back of my mind / It’s 2 a.m., do you know where your baby is?” The title track chugs along next with Chuck Berry-esque guitar licks, auto-matically conjuring a sweet little road trip: “Take a ride with me baby / A steady rollin’ plan / I got the keys to the highway / I’m a Cadillac Man.”

The exotic “Little Sheba” hints at a woman of many mysteries: “She walks like an angel with a devil within / Tryin’ make you a present of a mortal sin.” The flowing instrumental “Bo In Paradise” follows with its own haunting melody. Another Cadillac drives up in the romping tale, “Gone Like A Cool Breeze” – “We were out in my Ford just cruisin’ by / When a guy in a Cadillac winked his eye / And she was gone.” The solemn ballad “Crying At Midnight” slows things down with a soulful vocal turn: “I was a fool, and I can never make it right / I lost my love forever, and now I’m / Crying at midnight.”

The easy rocking “Barbeque’n Baby” cooks up a bite of slide and adds some lyrical spice: “Well she brought me to her kitchen, and she rattled her pots and pans / Well that BB Baby knew just how to serve a hungry man.” The only cover on the album is Vito’s simply gorgeous instrumental interpretation of the gospel song, “Just Another Day,” by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.

“River’s Calling” flows along gently with Vito’s vocals forming a duet with himself in a poignant lament as his guitar gently weeps: “I went down to the river / And I stood there on the shore / I heard the river calling / He said the world don’t need you no more.” Vito’s sinewy guitar highlights “You Can’t Stop A Guitar (From Playing The Blues)” — “You know that guitar ain’t lyin’.” His extended muscular solos aptly demonstrate the truth of the title.

The serene instrumental closer, “Sliding Into Blues,” is a masterwork in slide, pouring all the purity of Vito’s magical guitar into one final sublime emotional statement. Cadillac Man is delightful testimony that, after all, you can’t stop a guitar from playing the blues.

Jim White (a former music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette & now writes the Blues Roadhouse)




MARCH 22, 2024