Hot Tuna

Best of Grunt: Trimmed and Burning

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While there are a number of average anthologies of classic Hot Tuna recordings, Best of Grunt: Trimmed and Burning is arguably the most diverse single disc to have been culled from their "classic" late-'60s and '70s back catalog. With a running time of nearly 80 minutes, it is likewise one of the lengthiest as well. Keen-eyed enthusiasts might also note that song for song it matches the 1995 Edsel Records release Trimmed and Burning. One glaring omission is the dearth of any representation from their self-titled live acoustic debut, Hot Tuna (1969). Instead, the opening pair of tracks -- a high-octane cover of Rev. Gary Davis' "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" and the Jorma Kaukonen (guitar/vocals) original "Been So Long" -- come from the electric First Pull Up, Then Pull Down (1971). The band's first studio effort, Burgers (1972), is the source for the instrumentals "Water Song" and the edgy midtempo rocker "Sunny Day Strut." More seasoned enthusiasts will undoubtedly be impressed with the clever inclusions from The Phosphorescent Rat (1973) and America's Choice (1975), with the deeper cuts "Soliloquy for 2," "Corners Without Exits," and "In the Kingdom" from the former, plus "Hit Single #1," "Sleep Song," and the too rarely anthologized "Serpent of Dreams" from the latter. Similarly, the Yellow Fever (1975) track "Bar Room Crystal Ball" is a welcome addition. It helps offset one of the weaker links, the unnecessary remake of Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied" from Hoppkorv (1976). Wrapping up Best of Grunt: Trimmed and Burning are two excellent "unplugged" tunes from Double Dose (1978) in the form of the simple and lovely take of Kaukonen's Jefferson Airplane era instrumental timepiece"Embryonic Journey" and the bluesy "Killing Time in the Crystal City" -- a number that would not surface again until Kaukonen's solo Too Hot to Handle (1985) several years later.

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