TESLA – Simplicity

Tesla - SimplicityOne thing that gets on my tits is when the (oh, so stupid) term “hair metal” is brought up and some lesser knowing individual brings up Tesla. Sure, their debut album, Mechanical Resonance came out in 1986, when AOR-sounding bands such as Europe and Bon Jovi ruled the charts and Tesla kept on recording successful albums throughout the 80’s and into the early 90’s and that’s why they are thrown in with all the other bands that were successful around that time. I need to stress, however, that the term “hair metal” wasn’t used around that time – pop-metal or melodic hard rock were the terms – and it shouldn’t be used at all. It shouldn’t be used because there is no music called “hair metal”. Take a look at some of the bands that are placed under that moniker – Winger, Cinderella, Poison, Skid Row, Europe, Warrant, Mötley Crüe – and Tesla! Now, go on and tell me that all those bands sounds the same and I will tell you that you’re most likely to be tone-deaf. But no matter what you call the music, Tesla didn’t sound or look like any of the other bands. They never wore, big hair, spandex or make-up and their music was always pretty stripped and raw and rootsy. The hair was long, sure, but not big and they wore jeans and shirts, no glam ever. Still, when grunge (another stupid term) took over, Tesla fell on the way side just like all the other melodic hard rock bands and after the very underrated Bust A Nut in 1994, that totally bombed, Tesla broke up and the members dived into other, pretty unsuccessful projects. But just like many of their peers, a reunion was inevitable and in 2000 that reunion took place and in 2004 they released, the good, but quite forgettable Into The Now. Since then, the original Tesla line-up, minus the ill by drugs Tommy Skeoch who was replaced by Dave Rude in 2006, has been touring and releasing albums quite frequently. The last time we got anything new from Tesla was back in 2008 with their terrific album Forever More, an album more in the vein of classic Tesla than its predecessor. I have no problem at all putting that album next to classic albums like The Great Radio Controversy (1989) and Psychotic Supper (1991). With that in mind, it puts some pressure on Tesla to come up with the goods when they’re recording their new album. Expectations are high because Tesla has never released a bad album.

It only took me one listen to this album to determine that this album wouldn’t their first bad album, no, the guys have once again delivered the goods. “Mp3” kicks the album into motion and it’s a heavy groover with the Tesla raunchiness we all know and love with boisterous guitars and raw candour. It’s also the song that have given the album its title. “We all need to go back to simplicity” moans singer Jeff Keith and this is not, I might add, a salute to the format that bears the song’s name, it’s the oposite. You’re correct there, Mr Keith. “Ricochet” follows and this rocks real hard with the classic Tesla sound. Lyrically, this is a musical self-portrait that takes you on a small Tesla journey. “So Divine” rocks in the same way as, let’s say, “Modern day Cowboy” or maybe “Hang Tough”. Not that Tesla has stolen from themselves, but the styles saunters in that neighbourhood. “Cross My Heart” is an acoustic half-ballad that falls somewhere between “Love Song” and “Paradise” and had we written 1991 in our calendars, this song would have been a chart climber for sure. “Honestly” is a ballad in the more rocking vein, but still emotive enough to break a few hearts along the way. “Flipside” is one of those killer, catchy rockers that would have fitted like a glove on The Great Radio Controversy. Both “Other Than Me” and “Life Is A River” are ballads as well and this album actually has a few of those, but in Tesla’s case, it’s not to their detriment at all. Tesla aren’t one of those bands that writes cheesy and cautious ballads, they write powerful and heartfelt ones, so there’s no problem for this guy at all. The finishing tracks “Timebomb”,  a classy rocker that moves around in the same territory as “Hang Tough” and “Til That Day”  rocks the album out with a bang, classic tesla style.

Another great album from Tesla and on here they convey a feeling of pure love for rock ‘n roll – the fact that this is a prosperous band is actually very palpable, it’s all over the performances and that there’s no doubt that this band is having fun doing what they does best – rock! Style wise, this album is the closest to the classic Tesla sound since Psychotic Supper and even though it might be hard to compare this album to their first three, the quality on here is quite astonishing and I hail this as their best since Bust A Nut. In fact, this one is even better. A great and natural follow up to Forever More and with all the right elements still in the music, I can’t see any reason at all why any Tesla fan should find this disappointing. A fine effort from a band that should have been much bigger than they were – or are.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01.M P 3
02.Ricochet
03.Rise and Fall
04.So Divine…
05.Cross My Heart
06.Honestly
07.Flip Side!
08.Other than Me
09.Break of Dawn
10.Burnout to Fade
11.Life is a River
12.Sympathy
13.Time Bomb
14.‘Til that Day

5 comments on “TESLA – Simplicity

  1. I honestly don’t know much about Tesla at all… but I wholeheartedly share your dislike of the term “Hair Metal.” Since when did insults become music genres? Grrr. I think some bands sound close enough to warrant a sub-genre but let’s not call it that. It was never called that.

    • Glad we’re on the same track there. Hair metal.. How stupid.
      On the Tesla case, they are a real hard rock band. You have been missing out on a fabolous band. You need to change that.

      • There’s a compilation album called Time’s making Changes – The Best Of Tesla that might do the trick. But I would highly recommend to start with their debut Mechanical Resonance and work your way forward.

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