I Believe In You

One of those legendary Record Plant broadcasts that litter so many west coast Americans’ early 1970s’ archive, I Believe In You is an excellent document of Ronstadt as she perched on the very brink of a major commercial breakthrough. Don’t Cry Now was still fresh on the racks at the time, but her own eyes were already on what would become the following year’s Heart Like A Wheel, as is apparent from the inclusion of no less than four of its songs in the set.

Still this is a somewhat transitional recording, with Ronstadt’s vocals still to attain the full-blooded power that would highlight that album, and much of the set still locked in the close-but-no-cigar country rock that consumed her first four solo LPs. But the band is already at its best, with Jeff Baxter positively shimmering through "Love Has No Pride." "I Can’t Help It," too, is a jewel, despite some hesitancy in the opening bars, while "It Doesn’t Matter Anymore" has a naïve knockabout mood that is far removed from the eventual LP cut.

Excellent sound quality is only vaguely marred by the occasional stereo warble and, if Ronstadt ever gets around to formulating a "rock years" box set, there’s sufficient goodies here to stuff at least one of the discs. - Dave Thompson

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September 29, 2006