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Articles Home » 1990 Articles » Tesla - 1990 Five Man Acoustical Jam
Tesla - 1990 Five Man Acoustical Jam

ALBUM: Five Man Acoustical Jam
LABEL: Geffen
YEAR: 1990


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

TRACK LISTING: 01 Comin 'Atcha Live/Truckin' * 02 Heaven's Trail (No Way Out) * 03 Way It Is * 04 Signs * 05 We Can Work It Out * 06 Getting' Better * 07 Before My Eyes * 08 Paradise * 09 Lodi * 10 Mothers Little Helper * 11 Modern Day Cowboy * 12 Love Song * 13 Tommys' Down Home * 14 Gone Fo' Boogie


The continued success of Sacramento band Tesla during the 80's/90's crossover timeframe was maintained into the new decade. Preceding the Unplugged phenomenon which would become prevalent a few years later, Tesla jumped the queue with their '5 Man Acoustical Jam' released at the end of 1990, but recorded during the summer of that year at Philadelphia's Trocadero Theatre. I'm not really a fan of these acoustic live events, but considering I am reviewing a bundle of Tesla albums in one foul swoop, it seemed appropriate to include it. There are fourteen tracks onboard, four of which are covers. As it turns out, Tesla's bluesy, southern tinged near country rock style is well suited to the acoustic rock environment. The U.S buying public thought so too, the album going to #12 in the Billboard album charts.

The Songs
Let's look at the four covers first. 'Signs' is a cover of the Canadian band Five Man Electrical Band's huge hit single from 1971, while 'Lodi' is a Credence Clearwater Revival tune, followed by the Rolling Stones 'Mothers Little Helper'. Of course there had to be an obligatory Beatles tune onboard, 'We Can Work It Out' is the contender here, and a good version it is too. The remaining tracks are cast among material from Tesla's two studio albums. The playing style and end results are remarkably different than the original versions. For instance, 'Comin' Atcha Live' is played in a hokey country style, 'Way It Is' is also well suited to an unplugged version, as the original was kinda similar though heavied up with the electric guitars. 'Love Song' is also well suited and at a near 10 minute playing time, is the jewel in the crown on this CD. The two last songs probably sums up the CD's attitude, with 'Tommy's Down Home' and 'Gone Fo' Boogie' presented in a true country style.. like country rap!

In Summary
The live acoustic performance of Tesla is a raw one, and is quite initimate in a way. Not really a rock album, it's been listed on Wikipedia as 'acoustic rock' and I guess they are correct in that assumption. Some of you may enjoy this sort of record, and get some mileage out of it. Me, I prefer the studio albums!

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#1 | gdazegod on May 07 2012 11:40:00
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#2 | Eric on May 10 2012 03:50:01
I was kind of surprised at the time 'Signs' became the hit it was for Tesla. I was never of a fan of the original and I don't think these guys added anything new other than playing it a bit more aggressively. 1990 was an odd year and people were starting to get itchy for something different- too bad it had to be Grunge.
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