CD Review of Real to Reel - Volume I by Tesla

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Real to Reel - Volume I
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Tesla Electric Company
Released: 2007
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Tesla has always been a classic rock band disguised as a metal band. In the ‘80s, they were linked to bands like Poison and Ratt; not because they sounded like them, but because they were rock musicians charting at the same time. Where many of their peers were glam and gutter metal influenced, Tesla was more like Bad Company than L.A. Guns. Their highest charting single, 1990’s “Signs,” was a cover of the Five Man Electrical Band’s hit single from 1971.

Real to Reel is actually a two-volume love letter to the music that the band admires and holds close to their hearts as influences. Volume I is out and for sale (and reviewed here) while Volume 2 is only being provided when a ticket is purchased for their current tour. Instead of releasing a new record flavored by the past, they just dived headlong into it and created two volumes of a very pleasant car tape. It is very trendy these days to make a covers record and some of them are not very good. Where some artists do it to revitalize their careers or grab some secondary lightning in a bottle from the originals, Tesla’s music has always been derivative of those before them, making this a more sincere effort.

Volume I, without exception, remains true to those originals. Tesla certainly doesn’t lack any balls; they cover the giants, including the Stones (“Honky Tonk Women”), the Beatles (“I’ve Got a Feeling”), and Zeppelin (“Thank You”). These are fine, professional recordings, and they hold their own within this revered material. Jeff Keith has always had a unique voice. His raspy and passionate vocals sound best on “Thank You” and the James Gang’s “Walk Away.” One of the most enjoyable surprises on the record is Uriah Heep’s “Stealin’.” – a good version of a great song by a band not given its proper credit in the classic rock genre.

Volume II provides more of the same, with covers of Alice Cooper’s “Is It My Body,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special,” and Bad Company’s “Shooting Star.” The loyal Tesla crowd will be satisfied, and if you need to just take a drive, Real to Reel makes for a good soundtrack.

~R. David Smola