Americana Blues Blues Reviews

Saturday’s Music Mix – Part 1 – Hot Tuna

So with a night off. I was able to do a little music listening last night. The mix was eclectic. The night started listening to the first studio album from Hot Tuna in twenty some years, Steady as She Goes! For those of you who don;t remember Hot Tuna or simply weren’t around Hot Tuna was a side project of Jefferson Airplane. The main members were Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. Their first album Hot Tuna was a collection of concerts performed at New Orleans House in Berkeley ┬áin September, 1969, and released in 1970. According to Wikipedia this album is affectionately known by Tunaphiles as the “breaking glass album”, because of the sound of breaking beer glasses during the recording of “Uncle Sam Blues”. Anyway this is the album and the music I most associate with Hot Tuna. In reading some info about the band there were several albums that were new to me recorded in the mid-70’s that took the band in a more hard rock direction from Wikipedia:

July 1974 marked a departure from their primarily bluesy, acoustic style when Hot Tuna dropped their acoustic sets completely and morphed into a heavy rock band. The albums America’s Choice (1975), Yellow Fever (1975), and Hoppkorv (1976), showcase a power trio with the addition of new drummer Bob Steeler. Jeff Tamarkin’s liner notes on the RCA “Platinum Gold Hot Tuna Collection” refer to this trilogy as the band’s “rampage years”. Kaukonen is quoted as saying the change of focus was due to the fact “it was just fun to be loud”. His electric guitar playing was multi-layered and used a wide array of effects, especially the Roland Jet phaser and is evidenced by the solos on “Funky #7” and “Serpent of Dreams” on America’s Choice. This style continued on Yellow Fever, on tracks such as “Song for the Fire Maiden,” “Sunrise Dance with the Devil,” and the closing number “Surphase Tension.” Hot Tuna live performances during this period were typified by free-flow improvisational jams and very long sets (up to six hours uninterrupted) with extended versions of their studio material. The unreleased live WNEW FM recording at the New York Palladium in November 1976, for example, features a 16 minute version of “Invitation” ( from America’s Choice)

The point of this ramble is that one of the reasons that I really liked Jefferson Airplane aside from Marty Balin and Grace Slick’s vocals was Jorma’s guitar playing. So if his playing is outstanding on these albums, I need to check them out.

Now back to the new album. The album has more of an early Hot Tuna feel and Jorma’s vocals and playing are as good as ever! While all the tracks are good my favorites include the opening track “Angel of Darkness” and every time I’ve listened I stopped to check out “Mourning Interrupted”! “Smokerise Journey is another good track as is “Mama Let Me Lay It On You” All in all it’s a good album so check it out and then check out Hot Tuna. While I check out those mid-70’s Hot Tuna albums!!

Here’s one of those Hot Tuna classics “Candyman”