Sunday, December 23, 2018

Pentatonic Journey: Tuna Helper

There's so many incredible, paradigm-shattering guitar players born on December 23rd, it's almost impossible to pick one. But I have.
One of the initiators of the classic 1960s San Francisco Sound, his real strengths lie as an interpreter of music that predates Rock, and in writing material that recalls that stuff whilst remaining firmly present and modern.
He's also notoriously anti-taper and anti-bootleg, so I hope he doesn't hunt and kill me for this.
Starting out as one of the principal melodic forces behind one of America's most beloved bands, he branched off from them and (with another of their cadre) formed another group I happen to vastly prefer to the more famous one.
This offshoot was, in its heaviest mid-1970s prime, something like a cross between Hendrix's Band of Gypsys and The James Gang and was known for playing concert sets so lengthy they made Bruce Springsteen seem like Morrissey on a run of no-shows.
Born this day in 1940, he just announced a whole 2019's worth of solo dates.
The first recorded evidence of him -- yes it's one of the first classic bootlegs -- features himself and Janis Joplin in an SF apartment in the early 1960s, jamming away on Deep Blues as a typewriter clacks in the background and the Sixties traffic beeps along outside in the Haight afternoon.
His gorgeously fingerpicked instrumental composition Embryonic Journey is sometimes considered the theme song of history's wildest decade.
And obviously he's all over those first several Jefferson Airplane platters; those cats would never have amounted to a pile of bunk, blank blotter acid paper without his central, quality control role.
For me, though, it's his band Hot Tuna that takes the casserole for sheer 10,000-anvils-on-Jupiter weight and heft.
Originally called Hot Shit -- the myth goes RCA told them they couldn't release a record with that name -- their staggering interpretations of the gutsiest Blues remain a standard, especially in their electric, post-1975 iteration.
And wouldn't you know it, that's what we have today to celebrate the 78th birthday of guitar supremo Jorma Kaukonen: pretty much the toppermost of the archival Tunaverse, slightly tweaked by me to make it even fishier.
Hot Tuna
pre-FM/FM composite

01 intro & tuning
02 Rock Me Baby
03 I Wish You Would
04 Serpent of Dreams
05 Winin' Boy Blues
06 Been So Long
07 Invitation

08 Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man
09 I Am the Light of This World
10 Song from the Stainless Cymbal
11 I Can't Be Satisfied
12 Watch the North Wind Rise
13 Funky #7

total time: 1:44:01

Jorma Kaukonen- guitar & vocals
Jack Casady - bass
Bob Steeler - drums

pre-FM/FM composite, with the last track slightly repaired by EN, 12/2018
The last tune was patched after the pre-FM reel ran out, using a master FM capture; I worked on this segment to make a more effective sonic match with the pre-broadcast portion.
I'll return soon -- maybe tomorrow, with yet another underrated guitar monster, if I can figure it out -- to finish out the year in style.
Today, though, we must wish a very HBD78 to this particular six-string Samurai, with this impossibly ear-crushing HT set from their plugged-in heyday. Enjoy!--J.

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