Posts Tagged ‘Joy Of Cooking’

The Day

Friday, October 16th, 2015

In the east, a thin sliver of light – maybe bright, maybe muted through clouds – slides its way above the horizon. As it does, the music begins.

The tune is “Dawn” from a 1973 self-titled album by a group calling itself Glory. It was Glory’s first album, but that’s only a technicality: Since 1968, when two Cleveland groups more or less merged to form what All Music Guide calls an “acid rock combo,” the musicians in Glory had been calling themselves The Damnation Of Adam Blessing and had released three albums on the United Artists label. A dispute with the label brought about the name change.

The first album, a 1969 self-titled work, spent two weeks in the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 181. In 1970, a single titled “Back To The River” – from the album The Second Damnation – bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 102.

Glory, a good if unspectacular album, was the last word from the group; it and the first two Adam Blessing albums, as well as an anthology, are available on CD.

The music continues as the hands of the clocks turn just a little. It’s not quite raining as we listen to “In A Misty Morning” by the late Gene Clark from his 1973 album, Roadmaster.

At the time, the album was actually released only in the Netherlands, according to Wikipedia, which notes that Clark’s label, A&M, was displeased with the slow pace of his work and created the album by combining eight of Clark’s new tracks with three tracks from other sessions (two tracks from sessions with the Byrds in 1970-71 and one track from sessions with the Flying Burrito Brothers). Whatever the source, Roadmaster is a decent listen.

Clark’s catalog is not easily listed, given his solo work and his work with Doug Dillard, with the Byrds and finally with McGuinn, Clark & Hillman. I’ve seen his 1974 album No Other mentioned as the best of his career, and it’s the only solo album to reach the Billboard 200, peaking at 144 in 1974.

Most of his work, including Roadmaster, seems to be available on CD; I didn’t take the time to do an album by album check.

By late morning, the mist is gone, and as the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, it’s time for a break. Our refreshment is “Red Wine At Noon” by Joy Of Cooking, found on the group’s 1971 self-titled debut.

The Berkeley-based group has been mentioned and featured here frequently enough that I’m not sure there’s a lot left to say. I’ll just note that I wish that the group’s unreleased fourth album, 1973’s Same Old Song And Dance, would somehow find a release. And I’ll add that not long ago, I got hold of a two-CD collection titled “back to your heart” that offers seventeen unreleased studio tracks – some of them polished, some less so – as well as a 1972 concert in Berkeley. If you like what I call “living room music,” it’s sweet stuff.

All three of Joy Of Cooking’s original albums spent some time in the Billboard 200: Joy Of Cooking (1971) went to No. 100, Closer To The Ground (1971) peaked at No. 136, and Castles (1972) got to No. 174. The group’s only charting single in Billboard was “Brownsville,” which went to No. 66 in 1971. All the original albums are available on CD, as is “back to your heart” and a collection titled American Originals, which includes a few tracks from the unreleased Same Old Song And Dance.

The day moves on, and some times of day and some times of year merge nicely for time spent outdoors. That’s evidently what the Stone Poneys thought in 1967 when they released “Autumn Afternoon” on Evergreen Vol. 2.

The Stone Poneys were, of course, Linda Ronstadt, Bobby Kimmel and Kenny Edwards, with Ronstadt handling almost all of the lead vocals on Evergreen Vol. 2, the group’s second album. If the stories at Wikipedia are accurate (and I think they are, given the notes), the group’s label, Capitol, saw Ronstadt as the marketable talent and Kimmel and Edwards as expendable. And the guys were pushed firmly to the side.

Evergreen Vol. 2 went to No. 100 in Billboard upon its release in 1967. The first album, re-released with the title The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt, went to No. 172 in 1975.

The Stone Poneys’ first two albums are available on a two-fer CD; also available on CD is Linda Ronstadt, Stone Poneys and Friends, Vol. III, a 1968 release that was, from what I read, more Ronstadt and very little Poneys.

After the sun goes down (and we could easily – and might someday – devote an entire slice of this kind of whimsy to “sundown” alone), and the shadows come from the streetlights and perhaps a full moon, it’s time to get a little slinky. Pat Benatar did it well on “Evening” from her 1991 exploration of jump blues and torch songs, True Love.

Benatar, of course, was a 1980s icon with eleven Top 40 hits from 1979 to 1984; six of her albums made the Top Fifteen during that time as well. True Love did not. It peaked at No. 37. Given my tastes, it’s not surprising that I like it better than the rest of Benatar’s catalog. Like all of her catalog, it’s easily available.

Just past 11:59 p.m., the clock turns over, a new day starts, and we hear “Midnight Wind” by John Stewart from his 1979 album Bombs Away Dream Babies. The album was fortified by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – both contributed backing vocals, and Buckingham added guitar and co-produced – and was the greatest success of Stewart’s long career, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard 200.

None of Stewart’s six earlier charting albums had gone higher than No. 126; his 1980 follow-up, Dream Babies Go Hollywood, went to No. 85, and Stewart’s moment was gone.

But the moment was a great one, with a sound evocative of its time: “Midnight Wind” went to No. 28 in the Hot 100; its predecessor, “Gold,” had reached No. 5. A third single from Bombs Away Dream Babies, “Lost Her In The Sun,” went to No. 34.

The album is seemingly out of print; copies are available on CD but at higher prices than I’m willing to pay. The same seems to hold true for most of Stewart’s catalog.

“How Deep The Dark . . .’

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The Texas Gal’s broken fibula has healed enough now that she’s back to riding the bus to and from her job downtown. It still aches after a day on her feet, and she says the skin over the fracture point and the bone at that point – just above her ankle – are oddly sensitive.

I nodded the first time she said that, and I reminded her that the same thing holds true for me with the six ribs on my right side that I broke in that long-ago traffic accident in 1974. “Some stuff never goes away,” I told her. I didn’t expect that to be comforting news, and it wasn’t.

Anyway, her healing to this point means that I no longer drive her to and from work, and that means my afternoon routine of pulling CDs off the shelf to listen as I wait in the car has come to an end. One of the last CDs I played as I waited came from the most recent addition to the library here: Back To Your Heart, a 2006 two-CD package from Joy Of Cooking, the Berkeley-based band from the early 1970s that was fronted by two women, Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown.

I’ve long had the vinyl and CD releases of the band’s three 1970s albums, and I’ve searched a little bit for a copy of the fourth release, 1973’s Same Old Song And Dance; some accounts online tell me it was released only in Canada and other accounts tell me it was released only for listening on airplanes. I only know for sure that I have not yet found a copy. And I’ve collected over the years some early and mid-1970s releases by Brown and Garthwaite solo and together. (I’ve written about a few of those post-Joy Of Cooking releases; those long-ago posts are here and here.)

So I was pretty pleased when the mail carrier dropped Back To Your Heart in our box the other week. The first CD is a collection of demos and studio recordings the band put together mostly between 1968 and 1973; there is one tune from the 1990s. Some of the seventeen tracks on the first CD have the full band; others have only the two women, and still others have various combinations of band members and friends helping out. It’s not a polished collection, but it carries with it the sense I’ve always had about Joy Of Cooking, the feeling that this is living room music, tunes that musicians could play at home.

The second CD in the package is a live performance recorded in 1972 in Berkeley, California. I’ve not listened to that one as much as the first, but I can say that Joy Of Cooking was one tight band.

What I’m offering this morning is my favorite track from the disc of studio recordings: “How Deep The Dark.” The spare notes in the CD package tell us that Garthwaite took the lead vocal and that although there’s bass and percussion on the track, there’s no guitar. The notes add, “Another deep dark song from Toni’s dreamscape.”

A Couple Of Notes
In a pleasant note on last week’s post about Boz Scaggs’ long version of “Loan Me A Dime,” reader David Young reminded me that the tune was originally the work of bluesman Fenton Robinson, who first recorded the song for the Palos label in 1967. I probably should have mentioned Robinson’s authorship in the post, but anyway, David’s note reminded me of the 2009 post in which I discussed that and other things related to “Loan Me A Dime.”

And then, I heard from Ted Leavitt, the CEO and owner of Ry-Krisp, the Minneapolis-based company about whose crackers I mused when the company’s closing was announced in March. The company is still alive, it turns out, and someone there must have the job of scouting the world of blogs to see if anyone mentions Ry-Krisp, because Leavitt stopped by here yesterday morning and left a message. He said, “We will be coming back with the product you love. Please sign up for updates as we move forward at http://www.rykrisp.com” That’s very good news.

Let’s Go To Town

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Every once in a while, you just gotta go to town and find out what’s there for you.

So you need an invitation? Okay, you’ve got one from Joe Therrien & His Rockets, who recorded “Hey Baby Let’s Go Downtown” on the Brunswick label in 1957. The rockabilly invitation turned up a few years ago on That’ll Flat Git It, a massive (twenty-six volumes) collection of generally obscure country and rockabilly singles.

So, once we’re in town, we need to find out what’s going on. That means we need to listen to the “Small Town Talk” as offered by Rick Danko from his 1977 self-titled album. The tune, written by Danko and Bobby Charles, was first released on Charles’ 1972 self-titled album (which Danko co-produced with John Simon). It’s since been covered on occasion, most recently by Boz Scaggs on the album A Fool To Care, released in March.

If we’ve been gone a while, well, we might find it kind of hard to fit back in, even after several years. That’s what happened to Percy Mayfield (or at least he imagined it did) to inspire the song “Stranger In My Own Home Town.” There are a few versions of the tune out there, but the one that gets me going is Elvis Presley’s, recorded in Memphis in February 1969 and originally released on the 1970 album, Back In Memphis.

And of course, there might be some folks in town that we’re not all that happy to see, as the Tokens noted in “He’s In Town” in 1964. The record, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, made it to No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100. If he’s back in town, and she’s thrilled about it, it might be kind of hard to stay.

We might stay anyway, but I have a sense that we’d be wandering the streets late at night, murmuring to ourselves about “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town” just like Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes were back in 1977. The track, written by Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt, was originally released on the album This Time It’s For Real.

But you know, if we get past all that and hang around town for a while, we might find ourselves in a place where we belong, and someone else might come along from somewhere else who needs what we have to offer. In that care, we’d be the “Home Town Man” that Terry Garthwaite and the rest of Joy Of Cooking were thinking about on their Castles album in 1972. And we’d be home.

Three From The Car

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

I got distracted yesterday, working on a song. Another member of the St. Cloud Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and I are going to be performing one of my original songs sometime this month, so I spent yesterday working on notation, fine-tuning the lyrics and chords and continuing to sharpen my keyboard skills, which have been pretty much dormant since Mom moved out away from the house on Kilian Boulevard in 2004 and left my piano behind.

The keyboard setup here is pretty rudimentary: I have a full-size Fatar keyboard, which is pretty good, and I run it through an old Yamaha sequencer and into the stereo system. The piano sound is a bit tinny, and the sustain pedal doesn’t hold the tones as long as I’d like, but considering that I’d had no keyboard to play until I jerry-rigged things last week, I’m fine with it. Something a little more elegant would be nice down the road, as I think my musical involvement with the fellowship will continue.

Anyway, I spent a good share of yesterday’s time practicing the song that my musical partner – a long-time choir member at the fellowship – and I will be performing. I bought and downloaded a composition and notation program and got the sheet music printed. And I pulled my book of original lyrics – some of which have melodies – off the shelf and organized that. And when the Texas Gal came home a little later than normal because of some errands, I realized I’d made no plans for dinner. I’d gotten the kitchen cleaned and dishes done but had given no thought to a menu.

She wasn’t upset. She’s quite pleased that I’m getting involved in creating music again. It’s something that she’s been urging me to do at the Fellowship for some time. But that still didn’t put dinner on the table. So we decided on a fast food alternative, a Mexican place downtown, and I headed out into the cool evening. And that’s when things got even more fun.

As I headed down Lincoln Avenue toward the railroad crossing, I heard a record with a joyous piano solo coming from the car radio, which is almost always tuned to WXYG. (The only exception would be for sporting events – Twins baseball, Viking and Gopher football and so on.) As I listened to the piano, I thought, ‘Nice! Joy of Cooking!”  And I was right. The track was “Hush” from the group’s 1971 self-titled debut album.

As I crossed the railroad tracks and headed for Riverside Drive, the next track started, offering a mellow rolling electric piano introduction backed by strings and then flute. I knew I’d heard it before, but I cocked my head, waiting for the vocals. And then I heard a sweet female voice: “Come take a walk . . .” And I listened, mentally sorting possibilities as I headed across the Mississippi River. The track ended just before I pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot, and I thought to myself, “That’s Sweetwater, I bet.” I made a note to check the radio station’s website when I got home with a bag full of dinner, and I got out of the car as a dissonant and rough version of David Bowie’s “China Girl” was roaring out of the speaker.

Twenty minutes later, I got to the computer and pulled up the WXYG website. The song that followed Joy of Cooking was in fact by Sweetwater (“Yesssssss!” I hissed, pleased by my accuracy), a track unsurprisingly called “Come Take A Walk” from the group’s rather jumbled 1968 self-titled debut.

But that was when I got home. In between, as I was heading from downtown toward the river and home, came another pleasant few minutes. It began with an organ wash backed by mellow drums, with the sounds of either an acoustic guitar or a plucked violin then added in front. (I vote for the violin). And after that languid introduction, in came the voices of David and Linda LaFlamme of It’s A Beautiful Day: “White bird in a golden cage, on a winter’s day . . . alone.”

I listened to “White Bird” – a track from yet another self-titled debut album, this one from 1969 – through downtown, across the river, along Riverside Drive, Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue and up our driveway. The six-minute track wasn’t quite finished as I pulled up to the house, but I didn’t want the burrito and the potato hot dish to get cold, so I let the LaFlammes finish without me and headed into the house with dinner.