Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tesla - Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...

Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...
Tesla Electric Company Recordings

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of ‘Mechanical Resonance’, the critically acclaimed debut full-length effort from Sacramento (California) based hard rock outfit act Tesla. And in celebration of this monumental milestone, the five piece act has put together something special for fans in the form of ‘Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...’.
As the title suggests, ‘Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...’ is primarily an acoustic based affair, and unlike their classic live effort from ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam’ from 1990 (The album that’s regarded as the catalyst for the huge unplugged movement throughout the ‘90’s), the track listing is a mixture of past classics and more recent favourites, along with a couple of new tracks for diehard fans.
What will really interest fans is the fact that half of the album’s dozen tracks are taken from recording sessions dating back as far as 2005 - which is otherwise the last known recording from the original line-up of the band (Who at the time comprised of vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarist/vocalist/pianist Frank Hannon, guitarist Tommy Skeoch, bassist/pianist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta). Fans have been well aware of these recordings, and have anxiously been waiting for the band to release them for some time. And sure enough, they’ve been well worth the wait.
What’s really interesting about the recordings with Skeoch is the band’s choice of songs to cover. Obviously keen to avoid the obvious, the band decided to re-record songs that weren’t originally covered on ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam’, with lesser known cuts ‘Hang Tough’ and ‘Edison’s Medicine’ representing the past reworked classics. Despite my familiarity with the pair of songs, these re-recordings sound great, and have in turn given the songs an entirely new lease of life.
The final three from the Skeoch sessions include a surprising take on the under-rated gem ‘Shine Away’ (From 1994’s ‘Bust A Nut’), which in a lot of ways works better than the original, as well as a solid run through of the at-the-time newer track ‘Into The Now’ and a damn near perfect acoustic cover of Climax Blues Band’s ‘I Love You’ (Which the band later covered on their ‘A Peace Of Time’ E.P. from 2007), which could have easily be mistaken for a Tesla original.
In terms of new recordings, Tesla (With Dave Rude replacing Skeoch), revisit a selection of past classics (‘What You Give’, ‘A Lot To Lose’ and ‘Song And Emotion’), as well as throw in a couple of fan favourites (The band’s choice of reworking ‘Changes’ is positively inspired, and a definite stand out, as too is the laid back vibe on ‘Caught In A Dream’).
Of course, ‘Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...’ isn’t a complete trip down memory lane, with the band offering up two new tracks in the form of ‘2nd Street’ and ‘Better Off Without You’. As you would expect, both tracks are fairly stripped back efforts (The latter does feature some electric guitars), and fit seamlessly with the band’s older classics. Despite both having that vintage Tesla charm, I’d have to favour ‘2nd Street’ with its huge sing along chorus and Beatles influenced melodic lead guitar work.
‘Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...’ certainly isn’t an official follow-up to 2008’s ‘Forever More’, but more a studio companion piece to ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam’. Some fans may find this release somewhat redundant, but if the new songs on this album are any indication of what to expect from the band on their next release, then it’s clear that when the band’s new album does arrive, it’ll be more than worth the wait.
‘Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions...’ is definitely a worthy addition to any self-respecting Tesla fans collection.

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© Justin Donnelly