Tesla - 1986 Mechanical Resonance

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986

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ARTIST: Tesla
ALBUM: Mechanical Resonance
LABEL: Geffen
SERIAL: 9 24120-2
YEAR: 1986

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Jeff Keith - lead vocals * Frank Hannon - electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, backing vocals * Tommy Skeoch - electric, acoustic & slide guitars, backing vocals * Brian Wheat - bass, backing vocals * Troy Luccketta - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 EZ Come EZ Go * 02 Cumin' Atcha Live * 03 Getting Better * 04 2 Late 4 Love * 05 Rock Me To The Top * 06 We're No Good Together * 07 Modern Day Cowboy * 08 Changes * 09 Little Suzi * 10 Love Me * 11 Cover Queen * 12 Before My Eyes

Background

Great name ain't it? I've been a fan of the Serbian master inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla long before these Sacramento natives turned up on our doorsteps in 1986/87.

The early history of Tesla touches on the local Sacramento band City Kidd, though that band did have a revolving door line-up of players, it was from that outfit Jeff Keith was found.

Lead guitarists came and went, but the band finally settled with Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch.

San Francisco based drummer Troy Luccketta was the only one who had any sort of history playing with a young Eric Martin in the band 415, an outfit deemed so promising that Journey manager Herbie Herbert signed them to his stable.

415 didn't take off, but Eric Martin's solo career did, Luccketta playing on some of those records under the banner of the Eric Martin Band.

He was the last to sign with the newly named Tesla (City Kidd did kinda suck as a band name.. lets be honest) in 1985.

Signed to boom label at the time - Geffen Records, big things were expected of this combo, and with the pairing of Michael Barbiero and Steve Thompson, both big players in the recording/engineering scene, Tesla were about to provide the electrical spark that would see them become major players for at least the next fifteen years.

The difference between Tesla and the other notable hard rock acts was their decidely blue-jean approach to imagery, none of the glossy glam/hair metal poser looks, something that the band would get labelled with anyway through inaccurate association, much to their annoyance.

Released just prior to Christmas in 1986, the band would make 1987 an exciting year for all.

The Songs

A triumvirate of songs to lead off an album doesn't quite get as good as the three-part excitement on this album.

'EZ Come EZ Go' is a ready made anthem that has lasted the years as one of the band's most endearing tracks, while 'Cumin' Atcha Live' is a real rabble rouser with a kick-ass chorus.

'Getting Better' is less hard rock and should appeal to the readers here with its early Boston meets Zebra style shining through.

Another pearler is the slow-burn of '2 Late 4 Love' with more numbers being thrown into the songtitle than what Jeff Scott Soto can do. Lots of cool growling guitar riffs here, with the whammy bar employed liberally.

'Rock Me To The Top' is a straight-ahead rocker with twin guitars firing plus the big shout-outs on the chorus.

'We're No Good Together' is Tesla's first ballad, and compares favourably to that throwover blanket sound made popular by Michael White and Lenny Wolf with his band Kingdom Come. Jeff Keith is the star on this song, a swampy bluesy affair steeped in the Memphis delta blues style. Great song.

'Modern Day Cowboy' is probably the most popular song off the album, with its recognisable riff and chorus lyric.. 'it's a showdown, in the no mans land, for the cowboy of the modern day..'.

The piano based ballad 'Changes' is for me the album's piece de resistance.. a slower and more deliberate track which builds nicely to a killer crescendo.

The neat acoustic intro to 'Little Suzi' is a great offset for what's gone before, but Tesla kick off the shackles soon after and pick up pace and intensity. Suzi has worked up a sweat in next to no time!

'Love Me' is the album's sing-a-long moment, a booming chorus guaranteed to get everyone in the audience going.

'Cover Queen' sees the band get a little loose, throwing up a Cinderella meets Aerosmith kick-back, though they don't dispense with the denim. There are some interesting sounds on this track, including vocoders and some production effects courtesy of Messrs Thompson and Barbiero.

The ending is a race to the finish line. Closing with 'Before My Eyes', this is the longest track on the album at five and a half minutes, so you could call it their 'epic' moment, but it's not quite. It has a dark feel and twisted angles and is not in the same vibe as the rest of the album.

Some would call it discordant.. I would call it 'interesting'. In fact, the closest song I could compare it to would be Polish band Syndia and their track 'Plaza Snow'.

In Summary

Three singles were lifted from the album: 'Modern Day Cowboy', Getting Better' and 'Little Suzi', the former reaching #35 in the charts, the latter doing slightly better at #22.

The album itself did a reasonable job getting to #35 in the Billboard Album Charts, but the proof of the pudding was in the concert and arena setting, where Tesla really stood their ground, undergoing support slots with Def Leppard, Poison, Alice Cooper and David Lee Roth.

The band would continue into 1987 and 1988, before returning with their second album 'The Great Radio Controversy' in 1989.


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