Metal groups have a hell of a time making the pop charts. It's worth going after since all but a handful of groups need a pop hit for name recognition and to build an audience. There are two ways to go about this. The most obvious is to release a power ballad that will surely race up the charts. The second, less traveled path, is to release a cover of a hit from the previous decade. Tesla did both. "Love Song" was their ballad and "Signs," originally recorded by the Five Man Electrical Band, was the cover.
Originally calling themselves City Kid, the Sacramento based band took their name from scientist Nikola Tesla. Formed in '84 they made their debut LP two years later with the highly acclaimed "Mechanical Resonance" - the title taken from one of Tesla's theories. Released in '89, sophomore album "The Great Radio Controversy," containing "Love Song" out performed "Mechanical Resonance" on the charts. Breaking the mold, a live acoustic set, "Five Man Acoustical Jam," came next. Their version of "Signs," an admittedly weak song from a forgettable one hit wonder, became Tesla's biggest chart success. With their acoustic adventure behind them Tesla roared back with the extended (70 minutes) "Psychotic Supper" in '91. Three years later "Bust A Nut" had their standard Metal and included a cover version of Joe South's "Games People Play," which failed to have any impact.
The group's fortunes were lagging when Skeoch left in mid-1995. The rest of the band toured as a quartet before also calling it a day. Skeoch returned five years later for a live Tesla set in their native Sacramento, which led to a reunion tour. In '04, they released "Into The Now."
While dealing with substance abuse problems, Skeoch stated that he wanted to spend more time with his family (an explanation dismissed in some quarters), and officially left again in '06. Tesla brought in Dave Rude. "I'll never say never; who knows, maybe I'll go back someday," said Skeoch a little while later.
Nearly every band in existence started their career playing covers. Most ambitious or credible bands move away from covers and to their own material as soon as possible. Now things seem to have come full circle. Bands with a lengthy history are returning to covers. Does the world really need another version of a classic song? The only conceivable exception is if the group tries to give the song a different reading than the original. But more often than not these covers sound like pale imitations. Still, they keep coming. In '07, Tesla released not one but two covers albums - "Reel To Reel" and "Reel To Reel 2."
The first, a 13-song CD, was sold in a case with a slot for the second CD. The 12-song second CD was available to U.S. concert-goers at no additional charge - aside from buying a ticket.
Next up was Tesla's first world tour (Japan, Australia and Europe) in 16 years. The group then unfurled the Terry Thomas ("Bust A Nut") produced "Forever More." The set was the first full-album of original material recorded with Rude and came out on the group's Tesla Electric Company Recordings.
Tesla's seventh studio album, '14's "Simplicity," featured the single "So Divine." "We went in more prepared with the songs and ideas way more than 'Forever More'," said guitarist Frank Hannon.
1986 Mechanical Resonance
1989 The Great Radio Controversy
1991 Psychotic Supper
1994 Bust A Nut
2004 Into The Now
2007 Real To Reel
2007 Real To Reel, Vol. 2
2007 A Peace Of Time
2008 Forever More
The truth is Tesla never equaled their debut "Mechanical Resonance." The songs "Ez Come EZ Go," "Modern Day Cowboy" and the brilliant "Rock Me To The Top" are as good as it gets. And it gets real good.