Personnel includes: Laurie Berkner (vocals, guitar, whistles); Joe Ruddick (baritone saxophone); Andrew Maroko (trumpet); Kevin Sztam (trombone); Susie Lampert (piano); Adam Bernstein (bass).
Recorded at Hoboken Curve Studio, Hoboken, New Jersey between March and June 1999.
Victor Vito represented a significant step ahead in instrumental ambition for Laurie Berkner. Her first two albums used very limited production, consisting primarily of simple acoustic guitar and piano parts. Those records seemed to be fairly straightforward recorded versions of the songs Berkner wrote for her preschool music classes. But every song on this third effort is imaginatively arranged and given a far more intricate and full sound than anything on the preceding releases. It's not so much that Berkner has added a lot of new instruments -- though she makes extensive use of bass guitar, background vocals, and percussion -- but she and her colleagues have clearly invested a lot more energy (and, judging by the improved sound and mix quality, money) into preparing these recordings. Berkner's songwriting also seems a little more sophisticated this time around (inasmuch as that word can reasonably be applied to toddler music). Her guitar parts are more adventurous and her colorful nonsense stories are perhaps a little better married to the catchy melodies. Several tunes seem destined to be Berkner classics. The title track is an irresistibly weird sort of jump-rope song inspired by, of all things, the artist's accountants. "The Goldfish" is an almost Seuss-esque song about fish doing things that fish don't do. Victor Vito is a bright and beautiful creation, and clearly the strongest of Berkner's early offerings. ~ Evan Cater