Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Joy of Cooking, Closer to the Ground

“Closer to the Ground” is  Joy of Cooking’s second album released in 1971 following their self titled debut album released the previous year.  As a band Joy of Cooking featured the closer to the groundbeautifully intertwined vocals of Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite combined with an emphasis on percussion heavy dance-oriented jams and more typical for the period country-rock tunes. 

“Closer to the Ground” pretty much picks up where “Joy of Cooking” left off.  The album opens promisingly with the title tune which takes off into a terrific piano lead by Brown out of an  extended bass and percussion break.  Good tune.  The band immediately changes up the pace with following track “Blues for a Friend” which is carried by a vaguely Caribbean rhythm before shifting to an uptempo sax break by drummer Fritz Kasten.  Track three, “New Colorado Blues” is another change of style with Garthwaite and Brown in a vocal duet over Brown’s steel guitar and Garthwaite’s acoustic (I assume it’s Garthwaite, it could be Brown over dubbed) country-rock guitar.  One of the album’s highlights is Brown’s piano ballad “Sometimes Like a River (Loving You)”.  Joy of Cooking was an uncommonly flexible band who were comfortable playing a variety of different types of music and “Closer to the Ground” showcases their diversity.

Although “Closer to the Ground” sounds like a straighforward continuation of the band’s previous “Joy of Cooking” to me it seems to lack some of the excitement and energy that powered the first album.  It’s a competant album with some good tracks by a very good band but the spark isn’t there like it was on “Joy of Cooking”.  Listeners who know and like the band will probably enjoy “Closer to the Ground”; “Joy of Cooking” is recommended for new listeners who might like to check the band out.  And they’re worth checking out especially if you like beautifully melded singing voices.  Although they never received the same level of recognition, Brown and Garthwaite’s voices work together at the same level of perfection as Phil and Don Everly’s or Simon and Garfunkel’s.


01/04/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

1 Comment »

  1. […] Listeners who enjoy “Joy of Cooking” might also be interested in the band’s second album “Closer to the Ground“. […]

    Pingback by Review: Joy of Cooking, Joy of Cooking « Tuned In To Music | 01/04/2008 | Reply

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