Band members Related acts
line up 1
- Jim Lasko -- vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar
- Jesse Lanzillotti -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Norine Lyons -- vocals
- George Davis -- keyboards
- Steve Musso -- drums
- Mike Oxis -- bass
- Kevin Perau -- flute
- Walt Rehder -- pedal steel guiatr
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: ... If Only You Believe In Lovin'
Company: Del Val
Country/State: New York City
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: includes lyric insert
Catalog ID: 1
1972's "... If Only You Believe In Lovin'" is one of those albums that regularly shows up on high priced rarity listings. Collectors and fans faun over the album and while it has a certain low-fi charm, I'm not sure I would invest the asking price for an original copy (now around $400). It's interesting that for being such a sought after release, there isn't a great deal of biographical information to be found on this trio. There are lots of on-line reviews, but they all regurgitate the same paragraph.
Formed in New York City, the group featured singer/guitarist Jim Lasko, lead guitarist Jesse Lanzillotti and singer Norine Lyons. Originally released on the small Storm King label, it's doubtful that more than a couple of hundred copies were pressed. So yeah, there's no doubt it is rare. Up until the reissue, it wasn't unknown for copies to sell for over $1,000. Produced by Jim "Dirty Jim" Young, the album was recorded at New York's Associated Recording Studios. Lasko and Lanzillotti split the writing chores with producer Young contributing two songs - 'Columbia Tavern' and 'Northern Journey'. I've listened to the set at least a dozen times over the last couple of years, hoping to uncover the album's charm. I've yet to be won over. In fact I remained puzzled by reviews that slap psychedelic attributes on the set. With the exception of 'Something Sweet In Dying' and the closer 'Eulogy/Raga' (and even those were a stretch), this offered up an accomplished set of folk music. It may have been released in the early-'70s, but tracks like 'Columbia Tavern' and 'Don't Talk To Strangers' would not have sounded out of place on a mid-'60s folk LP. It was all professional and tasteful (Lyons had a very nice voice), but ultimately it was kind of pedestrian.
For those of you unwilling to shell out for an original copy, the collection's been reissued a couple of times:
- CD format: 2011 by the South Korean Big Pink label (catalog BIG PINK 137)
- CD format: 2011 by the Japanese Vivid Sound label (Vivid SOund catalog VSCD 506)
- Vinyl format: 2014 by the US Del Val label (Del Val catalog DV 12)
Only You Believe In Lovin'" track listing:
1.) I'm Wonderin' How I Ever Got That Way (Jim Lasko) - 4:04 rating: *** stars
One of six Lasko compositions, 'I'm Wonderin' How I Ever Got That Way' left me scratching my head wondering what all the excitement and hype was about. Lasko had an okay voice, but the main focus was on his tidal wave of lyrics ... glad I didn't have to transcribe this one. Unfortunately there wasn't much of a melody here and Lanzillotti's electric guitar just kind of plodded along, almost oblivious to the rest of the song.
2.) Columbia Tavern (Jim Young) - 4:08 rating: *** stars
Spotlighting Lyon on lead vocals and strumming acoustic guitars, 'Columbia Tavern' was a straightforward folk tune. Not to hard to imagine a young Joan Baez covering this one - it had the requisite amount of social criticism embedded in the lyrics. Give it an extra star for having one of the album's prettiest melodies.
3.) Uptown Suburb Alley (Jim Lasko) - 3:26 rating: *** stars
Another acoustic number, 'Uptown Suburb Alley' added some country-influences to Lyons' vocals. I'd suggest it was also her strongest performance.
4.) The Coming Time of Gone (Jim Lasko - Steve Lasko) - 2:31 rating: ** stars
Powered by Walt Rehder's pedal steel guitar, 'The Coming Time of Gone' was 100% country. Not even Lyon's double tracked vocals could save this one.
5.) Something Sweet In Dying (Jesse Lanzillotti) - 3:02 rating: **** stars
The addition of a fuller sound courtesy of George Davis' church organ, Rehder's pedal steel fills and Mike Oxis' electric bass along with Laski's droning voice added a slightly lysergic edge to their sound. It was also one of the album's highlights.
1.) Country Way (Jesse Lanzillotti) - 3:15 rating: ** stars
'Country Way' was a pretty pastoral ballad, but you've heard this kind of stuff thousands of times before. Kind of funny to think about three New York kids singing about country life.
2.) Spider Song (Jim Lasko) - 2:02 rating: *** stars
Opening up with some pseudo-Flamenco guitar, 'Spider Song' found Lasko and Lyons sharing lead vocals. Veyy atmospheric, I kept expecting the tune to open up. If didn't, but stood as the album's strangest tune.
3.) Don't Talk To Strangers (Jim Lasko) - 5:50 rating: *** stars
It may have been released in 1972, but 'Don't Talk To Strangers' had a very '60s New York coffee house vibe. Nice enough if you enjoyed the genre.
4.) Northern Journey (Jim Young) - 3:09 rating: ** stars
Country-flavored ballad. Pass.
5.) Eulogy/Raga (Jim Lasko) - 4:52 rating: *** stars
Kevin Perau's flute accompaniment didn't exactly endear 'Eulogy/Raga' to my ears, which is unfortunate since it was one of two psych-tinged performances.
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