I was 16 years old when I picked this album up on a whim, intrigued by the cover art (which isn't used in this reissue, sadly), not having heard a note of it -- and it quickly found a warm place in my soul, remaining a favorite to this day. Toni & Terry were vibrant new voices, their songs a wonderful mixture of blues, jazz, rock, country, and folk. There was a maturity to their work, a certain wisdom born of living, experiencing both happiness & heartbreak -- but they could rock, lay down a sinuous groove, and burn both slow & fast! To this day, "Too Late, But Not Forgotten" hits me where I live -- "Hush" makes my heart beat with delight -- "Down My Dream" sends me floating in memories -- "Only Time Will Tell Me" makes me think about the future -- but every song here is a winner. And they only got better with each new album!
Not quite a lost band, but certainly not as well known as they deserved. Here's the chance to discover a genuine treasure -- most enthusiastically recommended!
This debut recording of one of the seminal bands of the 60's Berkeley, CA college scene is wonderfully introduced in the accompanying liner notes. So many bands making the headlines in that decade were from 'the Bay Area', and that generality created a number of misperceptions about the scale of diversity in the music scene there at that time. There was, quite literally, a San Francisco sound, an Oakland sound, and there was a Berkeley sound. The main proponents of the Berkeley sound were playing the bars and were enormously popular. It was political music, it was smart music, and it was very fun music. Two of the main bands there at that time were Country Joe and the Fish, and Joy of Cooking. The sound is fresh, and hopeful, and, enduring. Certainly, this contrasted sharpely with bands like Jefferson Airplane making a much larger splash in San Francisco. But let there be no mistake - this band is as good today as ever. I recommend it without exception!!!
I bought this and the second Joy of Cooking albums in vinyl at some point in the mid to late '70s. I'm not sure why I bought them; I think I was generally aware of the band but hadn't heard any of their music. In any event, this album and the second remain favorits of mine. (Castles, the third album, is certainly fine, but not quite in the same class as far as I'm concerned.)
The combination of the two female singers and writers works really well. Toni Brown's tendency to write overly sweet tunes is balanced by the Terri Garthwaite's funkiness. The band's jamming ability is showcased on "Did You Go Downtown" and "Brownsville/Mockingbird". Listening to these two albums really makes me wish I had seen them live back in the day.
Brown and Garthwaite made a post-Joy album called "Cross Country". I kick myself that I didn't buy this back when I bought the Joy albums, since I remember seeing it in stores. For whatever reason, this hasn't been released on CD, and it remains probably the one album remaining on my list of records I want to see re-released.
I had heard this album in it's entirety way back in 1973, and had looked for it until it's current release date on CD in 2003, a full 30 years later. Well, not quite that long, but from the waning days of vinyl pressings and had relinquished my albums for the durability of aluminum discs. Listening again to an old friend, I was immediately transported back to a gentler, deeper, and definately more evolved musical era. This disc's music is in pace with the 60's, though completely timeless. Brown and garthwaite's vocals are the driving force, but not without Garthwaite, Kasten, and Wilson's music, for, without one, the whole thing couldn't have come together. It is a rarity and should be in any collection of 60's music, a true gem to not be missed, and anyone who has not, has truly missed something for a lifetime. As is the fate of much wonderful music, I'm glad that this one was not lost in time. Edward A. Schatz.
1970: I'm watching TV--some local program on a San Francisco station. A local group is performing for some talk show host. Two female singers and four guys backing them. They call themselves the Joy of Cooking. I am mesmerized, enough to spend money I don't have to buy their LP. Over the next few months I nearly wear it out, playing it again and again. JOC comes out with two more releases: "Closer to the Ground" and "Castles." I buy both of them, and though I do not find them quite as rewarding, I love them just the same.
Thirty four years later I'm going through my LP collection, thinking about ripping some MP3 from long-forgotten stuff when I run across JOC. So much of my collection from that era does not sit well with me these days--too pretentious, too self-indulgent. Even some of my old Janis Joplin just don't hold up. But JOC is as rich and creamy as the day I brought it home.
So I go to Amazon.com to see if any members of JOC are still around, and what do I find? This re-release. Wonderful.
These people were musicians first, last and still. They represent the best of their genre, their time. Forget most of the popular groups of the Woodstock generation. Get this CD and experience a real treasure.
"Joy of Cooking" was a group that embodied the communal, feminist ethos of the early 1970's. It was fronted by two very talented women--Toni Brown, a versatile keyboardist, vocalist and strong songwriter, and Terri Garthwaite, a blueswoman with a sweet/sour voice similar to Bonnie Raitt's.
This was their first album and also their best. "Brownsville/ Mockingbird", "Hush", and "Did You Go Downtown" were staples for the band in concert, where they stretched out on jams that sometimes lasted half an hour.
They were a band that had no stars, yet they could be surprising. "Did You Go Downtown", for example, features a fine solo by Brown on kalimba (thumb piano). She also sparkles on piano, exhibiting some influences from jazz player Vince Guaraldi, and she could play some funky organ, too.
In concert, the group was invariably a crowd pleaser, exceeding expectations. They didn't rely on volume, or overpowering guitar solos---instead they would draw the audience in. They were an airtight band, and all the musicians perfectly complemented each other...totally unpretentious (though some of the "earth mother" sentiments could cause you to want to pick the granola from your teeth).
Seems to have taken forever for the reissuing of the Bay area's Joy Of Cooking's three (only three!) albums, but here they are. Earthy and visceral, each has its particular charms. This, the first, has several fine examples of mellow SF post-Grateful Dead acoustic rock/soul/gospel/blues/etc hybrids. Of particular note are "Red Wine At Noon" with Teri Brown and Toni Garthwaite's lovely harmonizing and the deceptively unassuming "Too Late, But Not Forgotten" which features some mellifluous piano work from Brown as well. The band stretches out a bit on "Did You Go Downtown" - - the call-and-response vocals are quite affecting; it must have been awesome when performed live. And "Children's House" is a great closer, with a lengthy and layered choir crescendo lending an enthralling gospel effect before the song settles down to a practically post-coital purr to end the album. Great stuff. Joy Of Cooking didn't get a whole lot of airplay in the early 70s, and most people don't even know they ever existed. Too bad. Here's your chance to do some catching up on one of the era's finest.