14. Hot Tuna: Don't You Leave Me Here
Hot Tuna was a successful spinoff from Jefferson Airplane, launched by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. Kaukonen had developed into a fairly consistent songwriter, and had mastered country blues picking, and increasingly wanted an outlet for the country-blues he and childhood friend Casady liked, which had appeared to good effect on Volunteers with the Traditional "Good Shepherd". The duo began by opening for the Airplane at some shows; by 1970 they had enough material for a debut album, Hot Tuna, which charted at a solid #30. Recorded live in a Berkeley coffeehouse (you can hear a bottle fall and smash in the background, and other ambient sounds), the album is an intimate and intricate one, showcasing Kaukonen's excellent acoustic picking, and Casady's rumbling electric bass (plus Will Scarlett on harmonica). Kaukonen's vocals work well too, particularly on the Jelly Roll Morton song "Don't You Leave Me here", which has a lazy, unrepentant, rolling-but-languid, good-time feel to it. "Hesitation Blues" is another classic from the album, comprised of 8 covers and two Kaukonen songs that he defers to the end, but which fit right in. Hot Tuna would add fiddle player Papa John Creach in 1971, in 1972 they spun off from the Airplane completely (Creach played in both groups) and pursued an electric acid-rock boogie sound, epitomized on Hoppkorv, from 1976. The duo split in 1979 but reconvened in the 90's; Casady also spends time in Jefferson Starship.
15. Sly & The Family Stone: I Want To Take You Higher
Sly & The Family Stone were easily one of the top groups in America for a brief time, roughly 1967-1970. Sly Stone (Sylvester Stewart), a native of Texas, came to California with his family in the 50's. He recorded a single at the age of 16, "Long Time Away" which got regional airplay in 1960, and later landed a job as disc-jockey at KSOL, an influential r&b station, and later KDIA. He then landed a job as producer at Autumn records, where he produced the Beau Brummels, The Mojo Men, Great Society, and others. The Family Stone was formed in 1967, evolving from the Stoners, which Sly formed in 1966. A multiracial band playing a uniquely electric and energized psychedelic soul with sunshine sentiments (at first), they first hit with "Dance To The Music" in 1967. Stone's vision became darker and more ominous with each release; Stand!, from 1968 mixed in defiant titles like "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" among the more conciliatory "Stand!", There's A Riot Going On is a frightening, almost paranoid album with Sly's funkiest rhythms, and his most blackcentric message; it's also druggy and confused but acute. Fresh, in 1973, seemed a retreat, and Sly faded away, lost in a debilitating drug habit that has precluded his recording since the late 70's. "I Want To Take You Higher", with its voodoo rhythms, gospel chorus, keening guitars and powerful horn section is maybe their greatest track; they did a breathtaking version at Woodstock. Countless funk groups of the 70's owe something to Sly; it's one of rock's crying shames that funk wasn't played by rock stations after Sly was gone. He represents a crucial road seldom traveled in rock.