NOTE: first things first, all these reviews seem to be automatically duplicated on a page which has the cover of their 2nd album 'First Pull Up Then Pull Down' ( which WAS originally and confusingly originally released as 'Hot Tuna Live, confusing because the first one is live too). SO, this review is for the 'Hot Tuna' album with Jack and Jorma's faces in red against a blue background - that's the correct cover.
The review now: identically to another reviewer, I bought this not long after seeing them live at the Bath Festival in 1970, expecting it to sound like that show (where Airplane's Marty Balin sang with them) which was the best hard rock set I'd ever heard then, which is saying something considering the lineup at THAT festival. But no, it's an acoustic country blues set. They made several country blues albums in a row before they brought out any electric rock ones - when they did it was worth the wait, especially Hoppkorv. Everyone seems to have their favourites, but for me this is the most satisfying of their acoustic albums, as Hoppkorv is of the electric ones - or/and you could get 'Double Dose' which has one excellent and essential acoustic side (not doubling up on this stuff) and one electric side (mostly from Hoppkorv.
This album: well, there had been tastes of Jorma's acoustic playing throughout the Airplane's career - the stunning instrumental 'Embryonic Journey' on Surrealistic Pillow, the Ralph McTell-ish ' last day at the Chelsea', 'Triad' on Crown of Creation, and the country blues 'Good Shepherd' on Volunteers; but I had no idea that he was such an afficianado and virtuoso country blues player. Stefan Grossman was touring a lot in those days, and everyone that owned an acoustic guitar seemed to have one or 2 of his books on country blues or delta blues, and be aware through Grossman of the great Reverend Gary Davis who inspired so many guitar players. So this music was not unfamiliar; just as I said, a pleasant surprise to find that Jorma was so good at it. The versions here of Gary Davis's 'Hesitation Blues' and 'Death Don't Have No Mercy' are the best and everyone that plays acoustic guitar of any kind should hear them, and hopefully learn to play them ( there's transcripts of Jorma's 'Hesitation Blues' at least now, though I've only found transcripts of Gary Davis' original of 'Death Don't Have No Mercy). The rest of the album is fine too, especially 'Winin' Boy Blues ', a Jelly Roll Morton tune which was in the repertoire of a lot of the British acoustic pickers like John Martyn; and the gorgeous instrumental 'Mann's Fate'. Jack's bass playing is subtle and wonderful, but you really have to listen for it. Will Scarlett on harmonica, and Papa John Creach on fiddle, aren't always perfect, but are never bad and give a nice lively spontaneous feel to it all.
A must have for all acoustic guitar fanciers.