Sacramento hard rockers Tesla mark the 30th anniversary of their debut album with a live recording at Salt Lake City. During the halcyon days of 80s rock, when the riffs were big and the bands' hair was bigger, there was Tesla; a band who shunned the comb back, make-up and leather pants for a more common Joe trucker look similar to Status Quo. It was refreshing and brought the focus back to the music. Even though their success in the UK was not matched by their multi-platinum accolades in the US, festival appearances and support slots to Def Leppard kept them in the minds of the avid rock fan on this side of the pond.
Despite being given the rock tag, Tesla has always referred to themselves at blues metal, a trend which is pretty much evident throughout their first album and beyond. The band's lineup remains virtually unchanged with the exception of Tommy Skeoch and as a result, the band sound pretty much the same in terms of tone, although their sound has been beefed up considerably. Listening to them now, it sounds as if they have joined the pack of 80s hair metallers rather than continue to run against them.
Rock Me To The Top takes on a typically cock rock sound, with all the bravado of David Coverdale, Steve Tyler and Brian Johnson rolled into one. Brian Wheat's bass really comes alive with some classy runs on tracks like Ez Come Ez Go, matched by percussive partner Troy Luccketta's ability to create a dynamic drum sound. The dual guitars of Dave Rude and Frank Hannon still stand up, the guitar work is fast and flashy with the whammy bar working over time. In places, it's still very 80s rock, but it's packed with some great songs like Modern Day Cowboy and Cover Queen. One noticeable change is in Jeff Keith's vocals, which are now raspier and he appears to struggle on some of the tracks. However, for more blues based numbers like No Good For Each Other and Lil' Suzie, this works better with his current vocal style. An added bluesy bonus is their latest track Save The Goodness and really shows the bands' development and this snapshot of the newer material is certainly promising.
If you come to this recording expecting a live note for note copy of original, you'll be disappointed, it's not 1986. If you're a die-hard, you'll love it, and if you are seeking some nostalgia then you'll probably dig this live recording too. The band have clearly evolved a different sound to the one you may remember, which is evident from the bonus track. Even though they have clearly moved on, their landmark debut certainly deserved the live event to chronicle its anniversary.
Groupie Rating 3/5