Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hot Tuna

  • Hot Tuna [RCA Victor, 1970] B+
  • The Phosphorescent Rat [Grunt, 1973] C
  • Yellow Fever [Grunt, 1975] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Hot Tuna [RCA Victor, 1970]
Didn't figure I'd ever put on this country blues extrapolation by Jorma and Jack's Airplane spinoff while John Hurt and Gary Davis were at hand. But the shameful fact is that between the delicate guitar play and Jorma's unpretentious vocals and unexceptionable taste, I do. B+

The Phosphorescent Rat [Grunt, 1973]
After four albums, or is it five, this spin-off also sounds tired and like themselves, more consistent than their sister, and why does anyone care when they don't seem to? At least when they were doing country blues the material justified the music's indolence. C

Yellow Fever [Grunt, 1975]
When this band went pro--and electric--my initial reaction was annoyance. I figured that at least when they were going country blues the material justified their deliberate pace. But that soon passed, and for years now I've been shelving their records without comment not out of anger or even dislike but in the simple absence of anything interesting to say. When a group maintains such a level for five years, however, its uninterestingness becomes noteworthy in itself. Think of it--kozmic blooze and negative vocals boogieing on into a countercultural time that knows no past or future, outracing the Starship on automatic pilot. Quite impressive, actually. B-

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]