Monday, August 1, 2011

Hot Tuna - Steady as She Goes

Hot Tuna, besides sounding just like the word for "wedding" in Hebrew, has always been centered around the musical synergy of it's two primary members--original Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. This new CD, Steady as She Goes, is their first one in two decades, which they explain in the liner notes simply by saying "The time wasn't right yet." I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but this 12-song production is immediately satisfying.

Produced by Larry Campbell, who contributes various support instruments, and recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY, it has both a rustic, ambling accessibility and the burnished perfection of musicians who've honed their craft since the 1960's. With Teresa Williams' high, Grace Slick-like vocal harmonies, you'd almost think you were listening to the Airplane. That would be a good thing.

The band also includes Barry Mitterhoff on a collection of mandolins and Skoota Warner, who pushes everything along nicely with his drumming.

This is a CD that doesn't take several listens to like. I was humming pieces of it after one go-round. I'm especially taken with Jack's long bass solo on track 5, A Little Faster, and Jorma's guitar work is intensely satisfying throughout.

I'm glad I ordered the CD instead of simply downloading the music. The cover shows a variety of old photos of historical tattooed ladies--and if you look closely, they all have Hot Tuna, the album title, or Jack and Jorma's names added to their designs. The colorful front cover is a fresh take on classic Sailor Jerry tattoo images (mermaids, ships, waves and an octopus).

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