Exposé Online banner

Joy of Cooking — Joy of Cooking
(Acadia ACA 8050, 1971/2003, CD)

Joy of Cooking — Closer to the Ground
(Acadia ACA 8071, 1971/2004, CD)

Joy of Cooking — Castles
(Acadia ACA 8085, 1972/2004, CD)

by Cesar Montesano, Published 2007-03-01

Joy of Cooking Cover artCloser to the Ground Cover artCastles Cover art

Those looking for a 'good ole time' need look no further — funky West Coast psychedelia flavored country-rock to be found here. Equally rooted in the blues, this stuff is steeped in the tradition of that kozmic mama herself: Janis Joplin. Difference being that Terry Garthwaite can actually sing these songs the way they are supposed to be done, with feeling and no excessive histrionics. It is also telling that Toni Brown is a multi-instrumentalist, carrying more than her own weight as she bears the brunt of compositional duties, sharing the rest with Terry. Their fare is served up with hefty dollops of melodicism and syncopation. Surely able to warm up plenty of crowds from their stomping grounds of Berkeley, California — it is easy to picture them opening for many of the biggest acts of the time. Their heyday was from 1967 to 1972, and these reissues cover the span of their output on Capitol Records in those last two years. A progression in sound becomes evident as the debut long-player runs its course, even though a stretch of ballads does little to maintain the high level of interplay and musicianship evident on the fuller tracks. As is to be expected, lyrics tend towards the syrupy and emotional, exhibiting the rote plaintive hippie-guilt pathos, or both; extra cheese anyone? Closing out with with an honest homage about saving the earth for the children, "their house," probably had little effect on laying with throw pillows and puffing fat ones.

The two subsequent albums push the recipe further along as well as pepper their tunes with extended instrumental sections. Twang folk-rock this is not, boogie is more like it — consider it along the lines of the Stone Poneys, only more solid, even. You can add a dash of your own mouth-styles with 'chikka-chikka' sounds, if you like, that would not be out of place. Now, one would think that chunky bass lines and groovy piano tinkling would be mutually exclusive in this scenario. Unabashedly, there is a true fusion later apparent in melding two disparate genres: country and funk. I can't say they overcame me with this melange, but they surely did effectively bring it forth. Unfortunately, the latter half of the second album deteriorates sharply to plinky songs of the forlorn variety. At this point there is full-on honky-tonk with a clash of 12-bar going on, straight up Linda Rondstadt without any horses in sight, bongos on the last track can’t even bring this one back to its heights. Their last album follows suit. If this sounds like your style and you need a healthy dose of balladry in your diet, these will surely satisfy that hankering for grits and cornbread. Otherwise, adventurous listeners need only pick up the first and proceed with caution. Good stuff, well played, just not everyone's chaw. Stylistics aside, the chosen material is expertly executed with dual female vocals in tow most of the way.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 34, 2003 releases, 1971 recordings, 2004 releases, 1972 recordings

Related artist(s): Joy of Cooking

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ahleuchatistas - On the Culture Industry & The Same and the Other – Of all the genre labels ever devised, math rock has to be one of the most annoying. It’s an insult both to rock and to math, and seems to me borne of two mistaken beliefs. First, that math is...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues