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Rock - Released March 17, 2020 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released April 22, 2020 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released February 1, 1972 | Rhino

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Pop/Rock - Released June 20, 1996 | RCA Records Label

When Hot Tuna's self-titled debut album was released in May 1970, it seemed like the perfect spin-off project for a major rock group, Jefferson Airplane's lead guitarist and bass player indulging in a genre exercise by playing a set of old folk-blues tunes in a Berkeley coffeehouse. The music seemed as far removed from the Airplane's acid rock roar as it did from commercial prospects, and thus, it allowed these sometimes overlooked bandmembers to blow off some steam musically without threatening their day jobs. In retrospect, however, it's easy to hear that something more was going on. Friends since their teens, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady had developed a musical rapport that anchored the Airplane sound but also existed independently of it, and shorn of the rock band arrangements and much of the electricity (Casady still played an electric bass), their interplay was all the more apparent. Kaukonen remained the accomplished fingerpicking stylist he had been before joining the Airplane, while Casady dispensed with the usual timekeeping duties of the bass in favor of extensive contrapuntal soloing, creating a musical conversation that was unique. It was put at the service of a batch of songs by the likes of the Reverend Gary Davis and Jelly Roll Morton with the occasional Kaukonen original thrown in, making for a distinct style. Kaukonen's wry singing showed an intense identification with the material that kept it from seeming repetitious despite the essential similarities of the tunes. (Harmonica player Will Scarlett also contributed to the mood.) The result was less an indulgence than a new direction. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released February 7, 1978 | Legacy Recordings

Hot Tuna, then a quartet with the official addition of keyboardist Nick Buck, released this two-LP live album, its first concert material in seven years, and having thus summed things up, broke up as the album hit record stores. Double Dose gave a good sense of mature Hot Tuna as a vehicle for the musical interests of Jorma Kaukonen, who used the entire first side as an acoustic solo set, then included the excellent "Genesis" from his solo album Quah on side B. Elsewhere, the electrified group alternated between Kaukonen's best Hot Tuna compositions and blues and rock standards. It was produced by Felix Pappalardi (Cream, Mountain), who gave Hot Tuna its best recorded sound; even though it's a "live" record, there seems to have been a lot of studio overdubbing. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released June 9, 1988 | RCA Records Label

When Hot Tuna's self-titled debut album was released in May 1970, it seemed like the perfect spin-off project for a major rock group, Jefferson Airplane's lead guitarist and bass player indulging in a genre exercise by playing a set of old folk-blues tunes in a Berkeley coffeehouse. The music seemed as far removed from the Airplane's acid rock roar as it did from commercial prospects, and thus, it allowed these sometimes overlooked bandmembers to blow off some steam musically without threatening their day jobs. In retrospect, however, it's easy to hear that something more was going on. Friends since their teens, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady had developed a musical rapport that anchored the Airplane sound but also existed independently of it, and shorn of the rock band arrangements and much of the electricity (Casady still played an electric bass), their interplay was all the more apparent. Kaukonen remained the accomplished fingerpicking stylist he had been before joining the Airplane, while Casady dispensed with the usual timekeeping duties of the bass in favor of extensive contrapuntal soloing, creating a musical conversation that was unique. It was put at the service of a batch of songs by the likes of the Reverend Gary Davis and Jelly Roll Morton with the occasional Kaukonen original thrown in, making for a distinct style. Kaukonen's wry singing showed an intense identification with the material that kept it from seeming repetitious despite the essential similarities of the tunes. (Harmonica player Will Scarlett also contributed to the mood.) The result was less an indulgence than a new direction. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 5, 2011 | Red House Records

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Rock - Released October 27, 2016 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 9, 2020 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released May 1, 1975 | Rhino

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Pop/Rock - Released July 16, 1998 | RCA Records Label

This two-disc compilation of RCA recordings, made between 1969 and 1977, traces Hot Tuna's evolution from an acoustic folk-blues group to an electric blues-rock band, and then to a near-heavy metal ensemble, and from a repertoire dominated by covers of songs by blues guitarists like the Reverend Gary Davis to one consisting largely of original material written by guitarist/singer Jorma Kaukonen. Actually, the transitions are not that dramatic, since Kaukonen continues to favor the same kinds of guitar figures whether he's playing acoustic or electric, and his own songs, albeit with more abstract lyrics, are steeped in the traditions that produced the cover material. The compilers might have pleased Hot Tuna fans by placing more emphasis on the group's jamming abilities, including more of its live material ("Death Don't Have No Mercy" is especially missed), and saved some of the Kaukonen compositions for a "best of Jorma" album. But that is not to say that the compilation isn't a balanced, representative condensation of Hot Tuna's career on RCA; it is. It's just that, like the Grateful Dead's, Hot Tuna's studio albums didn't necessarily reflect the best of the group as a performing unit. Note that the set includes a rare studio version of "Been So Long" originally released as a single and a previously unreleased 1977 live version of "Rock Me Baby." © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | Rhino

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Rock - Released October 22, 2019 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Pop/Rock - Released June 20, 1996 | RCA Records Label

While the first Hot Tuna album had comprised an acoustic trio featuring Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, and Will Scarlet, the second album added violinist Papa John Creach and drummer Sammy Piazza, and most significantly, it added electricity. Now the sound was closer to Kaukonen's features in Jefferson Airplane. The highlight was the eight-minute "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning," although "Candy Man" also became a concert favorite. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 1970 | RCA - Legacy

For Hot Tuna fans and music scholars, Live at New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA 9/69 might, at first glance, seem simply like a much expanded version of the band's self-titled debut album for RCA. On the contrary, however, this CD, recorded in stellar audio by the label's mobile unit during the same week, is a completely different set, with some of the material making its way into the CD market for the very first time -- other tracks have been available separately as bonus material on various Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna reissues and compilations. That said, it's not just the extra music that makes this such a fascinating recording. While the six titles that appeared on the debut album are here, these are often radically different versions because Hot Tuna was, if nothing else, a unit that valued spontaneity and improvisation as much as its dedication to this traditional American music. Jorma Kaukonen explains that he and Jack Casady had been playing this music informally for a long time in between Jefferson Airplane gigs -- they were still members of the band at this time -- sometimes in smaller venues with Janis Joplin or the Airplane's Marty Balin on vocals. Along with harmonica player Will Scarlett, the duo took Kaukonen's truly amazing technical facility on the acoustic guitar -- he had studied (as had John Hammond) with Ian Buchanan at Antioch College in Ohio, the Rev. Gary Davis, and others -- and married it to Casady's funky electric basslines, coming up with a reverent though utterly contemporary interpretation of blues, rags, and folk songs. Standout tunes on the set include "Come Back Baby" (credited to Lightnin' Hopkins), Kaukonen's "Sea Child," and Blind Blake's "Never Happen No More," which was only released on First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, then In a Can, Classic Hot Tuna Acoustic, and Festivalink Presents Hot Tuna at Merlefest: 4/28/06. The performance flows spontaneously and organically from start to finish, clocking in at a full 68 minutes without a weak moment. The versions of some tracks from the debut, such as "Death Don't Have No Mercy" and "Know You Rider," are actually better here. There's also a fine historical liner essay by Richie Unterberger, containing quotes from Kaukonen. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 4, 2019 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released November 1, 1975 | Rhino

Hot Tuna's second album of 1975 began with a cover of Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" rendered in the group's characteristic noisy electric-guitar style, an approach that was typical of this more-of-the-same album. By this point, Jorma Kaukonen seemed to have found a balance between his songwriting ambitions and the need to provide springboards for the group's boogie-all-night improvisations. Here, "Sunrise Dance with the Devil" and "Bar Room Crystal Ball" feature good lyrics and excellent hooks, yet still fit into Hot Tuna's heavy approach. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 11, 1976 | Rhino

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Rock - Released February 25, 2020 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Eagle Rock

Every night any hardcore Hot Tuna fan goes to sleep, he/she should count their lucky stars for the Relix record label. The company has issued countless classic Tuna shows for mass consumption--although most of their shows circulate among fans as bootlegs, Relix Records offers certain shows in an improved sonic format, as evidenced by such releases as 1996's two part CLASSIC ELECTRIC and CLASSIC ACOUSTIC, as well as LIVE AT SWEETWATER parts one and two. The first edition (released in 1992) proved to be the first "unplugged" Tuna album featuring new material in nearly 23 years. Special guests Pete Sears, Maria Muldauer, and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir join Hot Tuna stalwarts Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady for a set of acoustic blues recorded at Mill Valley, CA's Sweetwater Club in '92, featuring such highlights as "Winin' Boy Blues," "Embryonic Journey," and "Maggie's Farm." © TiVo