Toni Brown - organ, vocals; Terry Garthwaite - guitar, vocals; David Garthwaite - bass; Fritz Kasten - drums; Ron Wilson - congas, percussion
The Berkeley-based band, Joy Of Cooking, were quite the anomaly in the late 1960s: a band fronted by two women who wrote and arranged the songs, sang lead vocals and played the frontline instruments, with three men providing the backup. Led by two talented songwriters, keyboardist Toni Brown and guitarist Terry Garthwaite, their music blended elements of folk, rock, country, jazz and blues into a sound uniquely their own. One of the first bands to deal with feminist and environmental topics, they were ahead of their time. They also deserve credit for paving the way for far more commercially successful bands like Heart and latter-day Fleetwood Mac.
This two song snippet, recorded a year prior to Joy Of Cooking's debut album, is one of the earliest surviving live recordings of the group. Captured on opening night of a four-night Fillmore West run, when Joy Of Cooking, Lamb and Cold Blood all served as openers for the new American supergroup, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, this recording provides a glimpse of the original lineup on stage. Unlike later Joy Of Cooking recordings available in the Concert Vault, the bass player here is Terry's brother David Garthwaite and rather than vocals and acoustic or electric piano, Toni Brown is primarily featured on vocals and organ.
Both of these songs were written by Brown, an intelligent and diverse songwriter. The first, "Too Late, But Not Forgotten" would later surface on the band's self-titled debut album. A song of love lost, this features Brown's sweeter vocals in the lead position with Garthwaite's grittier vocal timbre providing distinctive harmony. The second number, "A Thousand Miles," would eventually be recorded for the group's second album and feature's Garthwaite's distinctive lead vocal, with Brown providing harmony. Despite both being penned by Brown, these two songs convey a good sense of the stylistic differences in these two women. Brown was coming from a singer-songwriter standpoint, influenced by folk, rock and jazz, where Garthwaite was clearly a more blues-based musician. It was the unique blend of these two talents that created the Joy Of Cooking magic, a prime example of the sum being greater than the individual parts.
Although the source tape is somewhat degraded, fans of the band's first two albums will enjoy this recording and newcomers will find it an enticing introduction to what Joy Of Cooking was all about. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, no American group led by women was this musically adventurous. It's that diversity, along with a culture that was unable to appreciate women in such a strong role, that relegated them to obscurity. It certainly wasn't the music, which holds up better than much of the male-dominated music of the era, including these two songs, which are quite accessible and still sound vibrant today.