#146 Tesla – Mechanical Resonance (1986)

When Tesla released their debut album in 1986 they were quickly lumped into the new wave Heavy Metal movement. They were anything but. Tesla was about straight ahead rock and roll and about musicianship over showmanship, and it comes thru on this record. The record starts off with a funky bass & drum line that kicks into the rock guitar riff of “Ez Come Ez Go” with Jeff Kieth’s vocals cutting thru the track. “Cummin’ Atcha Live” is the 2nd track of the album (and usually the first song the band plays at live performances) and starts out with a guitar solo that is reminiscent of George Lynch of Dokken. Then the rock boogie of the song kicks in and takes you along for the ride, even if the chorus has typical metal anthem properties. By the time the first 2 songs are done you are aware that the guitar work far exceeds most bands of the day. Just when your heart and feet are beating at an unbelievable rate, the bands intro to “Gettin’ Better” lulls you and makes you think that here is the requisite power ballad….then the song takes off and rocks your ass again. This song almost reminds me of something that would have been on one of the first 2 Boston albums. We finally get to the power ballad on the 6th cut of the record, “We’re No Good Together” which carries a Zepplinistique (HA!

) sound and instead being a I want you so bad love song it talks about why they shouldn’t be together. As a twist the ballad picks up the pace at the end and turns it a jamming finale.Kieth’s voice is absolutely fantastic and oozes like Robert Plant. The 7th track of the disc is where we find the 1st single and the most well-known song of the collection. “Modern Day Cowboy” sounds like rock radio is supposed to sound from the get go, the song is more stylistic and tries too hard in my opinion. But it was the biggest hit of this release…so I guess what the hell do I know? The  best song on this album, by far, is the cover of the british band Ph.D.’s “Little Suzi” (interestingly the original PH D. version of this song was one of the first videos ever played on MTV). It starts out with a sweet Cat Steven’s like acoustical guitar intro and when the song kicks in it’s an infectious acoustical strum instead of an electrified riff that is the heartbeat of this tune. Tesla truly takes this song and makes it thiers as it bares little resemblance to the original. It’s a song that still gets my adrenaline going even 25 years later…And the music makes her feel so hot, and she’ll smile for the camera with all she’s got…Little Suzi’s on the up. Mechanical Resonance would not be Tesla’s most popular album, but it is my favorite studio offering by the band and was one strong, kick ass debut. While the grunge movement may have swallowed up bands like Tesla, they would change the musical landscape by helping ignite the acoustical movement with thier groundbreaking classic live album 5 Man Acoustical Jam.

Other Tesla on this blog: #164 The Great Radio Controversy


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