Burgers, Hot Tuna's third album, marked a crucial transition for the group. Until now, Hot Tuna had been viewed as a busman's holiday for Jefferson Airplane lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady. Their first album was an acoustic set of folk-blues standards recorded in a coffeehouse, their second an electric version of the same that added violinist Papa John Creach (who also joined the Airplane) and drummer Sammy Piazza. Then the Airplane launched Grunt, its own vanity label, which encouraged all bandmembers to increase their participation in side projects. Burgers, originally released as the fourth Grunt album, sounded more like a full-fledged work than a satellite effort. It was Hot Tuna's first studio album, and Kaukonen wrote the bulk of the material, not all of it in the folk-blues style that had been the group's métier. "Sea Child," for example, employed his familiar acid rock sound and would have fit seamlessly onto an Airplane album. And "Water Song," one of his most accomplished instrumentals, had a crystalline acoustic guitar part that really suggested the sound of rippling water. On the material that did recall the earlier albums, Hot Tuna split the difference between its acoustic and electric selves, sometimes, as on "True Religion," beginning in folky fingerpicking style only to add a rock band sound after the introduction. The result was more restrained than the second album, but not as free as the first, with the drums imposing steady rhythms that often kept Casady from soloing as much, though Creach's violin made for plenty of improvisation within the basic blues structures. All of which is to say that, not surprisingly, on its third album in as many years, Hot Tuna had evolved its own sound and music, and seemed less a diversion than its members' new top priority. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide.
Recorded at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, California.
All songs have been digitally remastered.
All songs written by Jorma Kaukonen except "99 Year Blues" (Julius Daniels/Torrence), "Keep On Truckin'" (Bob Carleton) and "Let Us Get Together Right Down Here" (Gary Davis).
The magnificent, though sometimes top-heavy, splinter group formed by Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen from the Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna allowed two exceptional musicians to stretch out and explore their love of old blues. It also kept them from becoming bored while Grace Slick and Paul Katner gazed at the ocean. A strong feature of this Tuna album was the violin of Papa John Creach. They successfully mixed beautifully evocative instrumentals such as "Highway Song" with traditional numbers like "True Religion." Their own blues sounded authentic, notably with the most agreeable "Keep On Truckin'." Make a note of its tongue-in-cheek fishy lyrics, which only a Hot Tuna could sing.
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1 True Religion (4:43)
2 Highway Song (3:15)
3 99 Year Blues (3:58)
4 Sea Child (5:00)
5 Keep on Truckin' (3:40)
6 Water Song (5:16)
7 Ode for Billy Dean (4:50)
8 Let Us Get Together Right Down Here (3:26)
9 Sunny Day Strut (3:15)
Jorma Kaukonen (vocals, guitars)
Papa John Creach (violin, vocals)
Jack Casady (bass, vocals)
Sammy Piazza (drums, percussion, vocals).
David Crosby (vocals)
Richmond Talbott (vocals, guitar)
Nikki Buck (keyboards).