Tesla - Real to Reel Review

by Kevin Wierzbicki

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80s-metal outfit Tesla got plenty of airplay with original material like "Love Song" and "Little Suzi" but their biggest chart success came with their version of "Signs," a protest song first recorded by the Five Man Electrical Band. The song hit the Top-10 seventeen years ago and Tesla hope to duplicate the feat at least once with the material from their album of all cover versions, Real to Reel.

Most of the band's choices will probably be unknown to the majority of Tesla fans---"Signs" was 30-years old when they covered it and a lot of these tunes are pushing 40. From that era comes the album's scorching opener and probably the hardest rocking track overall, Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'." This is when Tesla sounds the best; when they're rocking their asses off. So the James Gang's gnarly "Walk Away" comes out a winner as does the super-oldie from the Guess Who, "Hand Me Down World." The group also sounds good stretching out with a couple of deeper tracks that old hippies know by heart; Uriah Heep's remorse-filled "Stealin'" and the sinewy guitar showcase of Robin Trower's "Day of the Eagle."

Tesla's version of the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion" is surprisingly fun and crisp although completely devoid of the earthy funk that characterized the original.

The one misstep here is a take on the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women" where the band fails to capture the essence of the song or do anything to make it their own. Otherwise this record is a blast (from the past!) Also covered are U.F.O., Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Traffic, the Beatles and Eric Clapton via Derek & the Dominos' "Bell Bottom Blues."


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