Sunday, December 4, 2016
Re-Up: Toni Brown - Good For You, Too (1974)
This is an update of a post I did on April 2 of this year. As with my Style Council rip from that same month, I was unhappy with the quality of the needle-drop I'd made, so I improved it. (What was it about April? The cruelest month for technical audio projects, I guess). I not only cleaned up some stray ticks and pops in the audio files, but gave the music a bit more presence by raising each track's volume by half a decibel. I also did larger scans of the album art, so it's much easier to see (why didn't I do this in the first place?). If you have this rip, I recommend getting it again -- it'll be a better experience all around. Below is my original post. It'll explain why I'm acting like a record that no one has ever heard of is the second coming of Pet Sounds. Story of my life.
Never released on CD, this is the first solo album by Joy of Cooking band leader Toni Brown. Followers of this blog might remember that I blogged about Brown's second (and final) solo LP last year and said I'd post this one if I could find a good copy. Well, I found a really good copy. And it's a funny story how.
I was at a record show this February, and bought an LP by R&B artist Lonette McKee. But when I took it home I found a disc by the band Ambrosia inside. Huh? So at the next month's show, I returned it to the dealer who pointed at his massive, disorganized boxes of LPs and said "You can have both albums if you can find their counterparts!" He had thousands of albums, so I spent hours crate-digging. I found neither album. But I did find an excellent copy of Toni Brown's Good For You, Too, which I'd been seeking for decades. So, the dealer's mistake turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
If you've found this page, you probably already know about Brown. She co-founded the Marin County folk-rock group Joy of Cooking with Terry Garthwaite and they released three fantastic albums in the early '70s. See this article for a complete history. Joy of Cooking never had much commercial success and Brown left the group in 1973. (Addendum: This Toni Brown isn't the Toni Brown who edited Relix magazine and currently performs solo. They're two different people.)
Toni Brown made this album shortly after the break, and it's possibly my favorite out of everything she did, including Joy of Cooking's albums. Every song is a gem, and her background in creative writing (which she'd studied at Bennington College) really comes through in story-songs like "Everything Comes in Time" and "Big Trout River." Several artists covered "Everything Comes in Time," such as Twiggy. Brown herself put it out as a single, but it didn't click.
The album itself didn't do much either, despite being placed on several progressive rock station's playlists according to Billboard magazine. I think the reason for Brown's lack of commercial success is that she was just too far ahead of her time. With Joy of Cooking she was among the first women to lead a major-label rock band before that was popular. And with her solo work she developed the country-goes-to-college style of pop music that Mary Chapin Carpenter later found success with in the 1990s.
Joy of Cooking fans might be interested to know that Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite's collaboration didn't end when the band ended. They did two albums as a duo: Cross Country and The Joy. Cross-Country is in print, but The Joy isn't, so I did a rip of that too. Brown also wrote one song for Terry Garthwaite's self-titled debut album (which I'll post if I can ever find a good copy) and Terry sings back-ups on half of the songs on this album. So if Good For You, Too sounds a bit like Joy of Cooking in spots, that's why.
This is a high-quality rip from near-mint vinyl and includes scans of the lyrics sheet and other odds and ends. If you listen closely with headphones you'll hear some hiss and various other noises. That's not an error with the rip. That sound comes from the actual analog tapes and live-in-the-studio playing, which is the way they used to make records. Analog recording might have had its drawbacks, but it also yielded a great sounds, as evidenced by this album.
The Joy - Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite (1977)
Toni Brown - Toni Brown (1979).
1. Good For You,Too
2. I Loved You All The Time
3. Everything Comes In Time
4. Wild Bird
5. The Devil And Willie Mahoney
6. Hang On To Your Happy Days
7. Big Trout River
8. Sweet Sympathy
9. After All This Time
10. Warm Winds, Sweet Wine