Tesla proved to the world that they were not your run of the mill Rock and Roll group years ago when they released the blockbuster Five Man Acoustical Jam. Combining reworked versions of their own material and some covers it was an album that showed that these cowboys of the modern day were truly some of the most versatile players that the Hard Rock circuit had to offer. This was during a time when more attention was being paid to those who simply added an extra can of hair spray to the mix instead of refining the Rock we were all craving. Cheap gimmicks and fanfare never applied to Tesla who always stuck to their roots and gave us classics such as "Love Song", "Coming Atcha Live" and "Paradise". Real To Reel finds the bands return to delivering quality music and this time around they bring out the songs that they felt were important to their own development as a group. The release is quite similar to that which was recently issued by Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw whose own album Influence offered fans an idea of how they began in an acoustic manner. With Real To Reel Tesla is going to show the world a little of the same thing but it is full amplified and electrical this time. There are some great versions presented and while many are dead on renditions of the classics one cannot deny that the bluesy rasp of singer Jeff Keith is able to make these tracks his own just a little. The great aspect of the release is the fact that it includes covers that many of the bands fans might not have ever expected of them such as the Temptations "Ball Of Confusion" and the Guess Who's "Hand Me Down World". Great tunes yes indeed but I am sure that the younger fan base only had a limited if any exposure to these songs as they grew up with the band. In that end there is a chance that many new listeners will be turned on to those who did them in the first place based on Tesla's reminding us of just how good they were. Heavy numbers abound as well with selections from the back catalogs of Thin Lizzy, UFO and Uriah Heep; with these we find Tesla able to rock as hard as anyone while also capable of showing respect to Metal's earliest contributors. New guitarist Dave Rude stands out on the recording and is a perfect addition to the bands lineup. He replaces Tommy Skeoch, but the rest of the guys are the same as you remember with Frank Hannon (Guitar), Brian Wheat (Bass) and Troy Luccketa (Drums). Overall the band sounds in fine form as they rock where it counts but also slow down as requires. There is a soulful rendition of Clapton's "Bell Bottom Blues" where the guitars simply sing and the Beatles classic "I've Got A Feeling" is just loaded with groove. I think most listeners will enjoy their version of "Thank You" by Led Zeppelin as that particular tune itself is timeless and it is one of my favorites on the release above all the rest. It's an album that reflects as much on Rock history as it does showcase where this particular group owes its origins. I loved the overall production of this release and fans should be aware this is the premiere recording on the band's own Tesla Electric Company Recordings label. Perhaps this new launch will find the issue of some unreleased gems or other material that we might not have had access to otherwise. Only time will tell but for now lets enjoy this blast from the past ala Tesla.
As an added incentive to get you and your friends into the seats at area concerts the band has made this CD a two disc collection but you can only get part two if you purchase a ticket for one of the gigs. So if for some reason Tesla's rich back catalog of kick ass Rock tunes and cover versions are not enough to get you there just take a look at the selections on Real To Reel's second CD: All The Young Dudes (Mott The Hoople), Make It Last (Montrose), Shooting Star (Bad Company), Not Fragile (Bachman-Turner Overdrive), Street Fighting Man (Rolling Stones), Is It My Body (Alice Cooper), I Want To Take You Higher (Sly & The Family Stone), Do You Feel Like We Do (Peter Frampton), Beer Drinkers And Hellraisers (ZZ Top), Seasons Of Wither (Aerosmith), Saturday Night Special (Lynyrd Skynyrd), War Pigs (Black Sabbath). I'll see you all there.
1. Space Truckin' (Deep Purple)
2. Walk Away (James Gang)
3. Hand Me Down World (Guess Who)
4. Bad Reputation (Thin Lizzy)
5. Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
6. I've Got A Feeling (The Beatles)
7. Day Of The Eagle (Robin Trower)
8. Ball Of Confusion (Tempations)
9. Rock Bottom (UFO)
10. Stealin' (Uriah Heep)
11. Bell Bottom Blues (Eric Clapton)
12. Honky Tonk Women (Rolling Stones)
13. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)