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Rock - Released August 16, 2019 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 18, 2019 | 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
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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
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Pop/Rock - Released January 29, 2009 | 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
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Rock - Released January 18, 2019 | Rhino

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Rock - Released April 26, 2019 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 18, 2019 | Rhino

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Rock - Released February 8, 2019 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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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
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Rock - Released March 29, 2019 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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

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Pop - Released June 1, 1970 | RCA - Legacy

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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
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Pop/Rock - Released April 5, 2003 | RCA - BMG Heritage

RCA's single-disc collection of Hot Tuna's early output isn't as expansive as their two-CD compilation, The Best of Hot Tuna, but provides a nice springboard for those looking to find out what they were all about. The majority of the focus is on the albums First Pull Up, Then Pull Down and Burgers, when leaders Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy joined up with fiddler Papa John Creach and drummer Sammy Piazza for electrified readings of classic blues numbers, but Platinum & Gold Collection also contains four tracks from Hot Tuna's heavy period and one from their early acoustic beginnings. ~ Gregory McIntosh
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Eagle Rock

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Rock - Released January 18, 2019 | Rhino

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Rock - Released January 18, 2019 | Rhino

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Rock - Released November 9, 2018 | Hot Tuna Ltd.

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Pop/Rock - Released January 29, 2009 | Legacy Recordings

Issued in 1979, Final Vinyl gathers ten tracks from Hot Tuna's first eight LPs. While the tune stack is packed with enthusiast favorites, there are notable omissions and even a few questionable inclusions -- most particularly "Day to Day out the Window Blues" from the Phosphorescent Rat (1973) album. That small caveat aside, this single-disc release is an apt revisitation of the first eight-year run of what initially began as a Jefferson Airplane side project by Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar) and Jack Casady (bass). The band's first long-player consisted of acoustic traditional blues covers such as "Hesitation Blues" as well as hard-drivin' reworkings of similar material from the likes of Rev. Gary Davis ("Candy Man"). That was, of course, in addition to contributions from Kaukonen and occasionally Casady -- as exemplified on "Funky #7." Hot Tuna also offered exceptional acoustic as well as electric musicianship. The duo expanded their horizons from their self-titled debut to include "Papa" John Creech (violin), Sammy Piazza (drums), and Will Scarlett (mouth harp) on their second long-player, First Pull up, Then Pull Down (1971). Although both albums are somewhat meagerly represented by one track apiece, the inclusions reveal the instrumental prowess inherent in each. Although Burgers (1972) and Phosphorescent Rat (1973) are both denoted by a pair of tunes, the selections seem a bit random and incidental. This can likewise be said of the remainder -- especially Double Dose (1978), from which "I Wish You Would" is taken. Practically any of the other material would have been more appropriate -- such as the understated reading of "Genesis." Granted the tune was not a Tuna track -- as it originated on Kaukonen's solo debut Quah. Inclined parties are best served by the two-CD Best of Hot Tuna (1998), which contains a much broader and more accurate collection from the same era. ~ Lindsay Planer