Hot Tuna was formed as a spin off from Jefferson Airplane. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady wanted to explore their acoustic and blues roots which were originally featured as sets within Jefferson Airplane concerts. Originally Airplane drummer Joey Covington and vocalist Marty Balin performed with the band but subsequently left before the recording of Hot Tuna's first self titled lp. The first lp featured acoustic songs performed by Kaukonen and Casady aided by Chicago blues harpist Will Scarlett. The album recorded live features a number of blues covers like "Hestitation Blues", "Know You Rider" and "Winin' Boy Blues" along with the Kaukonen original "Mann's Fate". With the second album also recorded live the band featured some electric music aided by another Airplane member violinist Papa John Creach along with drummer Sammy Piazza. Eventully the group evolved into a power trio that featured mostly electric music on lp but still played some "wooden music" in concert. Later a keybordist was added to flesh out the sound a bit more. This 2 cd set contains most but not all of the essential Hot Tuna tracks from 1970-1978. The band have since reformed a number of times. Among the rarities included here are a non-lp single b-side version of "Been So Long" which had previously appeared in a live version on their second album. An unreleased live version of the blues classic "Rock Me Baby" (an outtake from the "Double Dose" live album) which was often performed with the Airplane is included on the second disk. Highlights include "Hit Single #1", the slinky "Funky #7", and covers like Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy" and Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would". Kaukonen shows he is equally excellent at a fingerpicking acoustic style or a more piercing acid rock electric style. He is one of the more underrated guitarists from this time period. Casady of course is one the best rock bass players ever. He was reportedly Jimi Hendrix's favorite bass player and his style is similar to the lead bass style of Jack Bruce and John Entwistle.
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