Tesla – “Five Man London Jam” CD / 2 LP / Blu-Ray (UMC)
Formed in 1981, Tesla have since enjoyed international chart, radio, and tour success for nearly 35 years, with multi-platinum albums and global album sales topping 15 million. To celebrate that in a unique one-off event, Tesla stepped into London’s famed Abbey Road Studios to perform an acoustic show that would form the basis of this live album, recorded and filmed in 4K high definition. Still with most of their founding line-up, these veteran rockers, whose sound is rooted in 70s rock as well as 80s hard rock n roll, pulled out all the plugs (literally) across the 13 tracks here, drawn from their latest release “Shock”, right back to their 1986 debut “Mechanical Resonance”. Despite all the years (and mileage) in between, what really impresses is just how fresh the material sounds, with barely a difference between the older and more recent songs. Needless to say, the flawless performance by Tesla had nothing to do with it whatsoever ha ha! Still, what can’t be replayed to perfection is the passion and heart from the band themselves, who exude it abundantly across every note, beat and vocal in remarkably kick ass and heart moving fashion – the trademark of this primo American hard rock band. From their cover of ‘Signs’ by Five Man Electrical Band (if you’re wondering where they got the inspiration for this live album’s title), the rolling 70s groove oozes the feelgood factor through the harmony vocals and strummed guitars on this take which is close to the original, while still having a definite Tesla signature to it. Performing live for the first time ever is ‘California Summer Song’ off their 2019 release, the catchy soulful happiness inherent in the positive guitar vibes and Jeff Keith’s laid back croons, while the presence of deeper rock melodies adds that Tesla mark once again. With it’s incredible contrast of heavy twanging cowpoke guitar that lassos you immediately and a grungy melancholic touch, “Miles Away” is not just powerful in its blue collar appealing tones as intended by Tesla, but moreover to bare chest their souls as reflected by their charity work, including that for the Rhode Island fire. Taken from their 1991 platinum release “Psychotic Supper”, which spurned no less than 5 hit singles, ‘Call It What You Want’ is a classic Geffen song with catchy melodic hooks beautifully melded with deeper rock tones in a definitive American rock n roll sound, and while the electric version still resonates so powerfully for me, this acoustic rendition doesn’t lack in any way whatsoever, kicking ass in its own way spectacularly! With the world facing a pandemic as I write this, the elation experienced by “Five Man London Jam” is an undoubted testimony to Tesla’s brilliance – and heart.