Three decades after almost single-handedly taking the hard rock goes acoustic format mainstream Sacramento’s finest sons Tesla recently returned to the now well worn set-up for an intimate invitation only show at London’s Abbey Road Studios to record a set of songs in homage to the original ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam’.
Captured in 4K High-Definition both sonically and visually ‘Five Man London Jam’ is more than just a re-run of that Platinum selling 1990 opus though, with only five tracks common across both releases, although granted the more pedantic fan might argue its six if you want to include opener ‘Comin’ Atcha Live/Truckin‘ as two songs rather than one.
Once past the common ground of the introductory track what follows is a mixture of tracks from Tesla’s 2019 album ‘Shock’ (‘Tied To The Tracks’ getting a cowboy booted foot in early doors with ‘California Summer Song’ and ‘Forever Loving You’ forming the mid-set spine) all lined up alongside some of their perhaps lesser known tracks from their back catalogue such as ‘Miles Away’ and ‘Into The Now’ from the band’s 2004 by the same name. There are also three cuts from 1991’s much overlooked ‘Psychotic Supper’ album in the shape of ‘What You Give’, ‘Call It What You Want’ and ‘Stir It Up’ to look forward to. Whilst of the remaining five original ‘Acoustic’ tracks the re-visiting of The Beatles ‘We Can Work It Out’, recorded in the very studio it was first recorded in, plus the whole seven and half minutes of ‘Love Song’, which brings this set to a close, are both in equal measures enthralling and magical.
If I were to be slightly critical of the thirteen (look I’m counting the opener as one track okay) song set is that reviewing it as I am here without the visuals it does get a tad one paced towards the middle of the set, and it takes a fantastic version of ‘Into The Now’ to truly get me back in the groove, also though on a more positive note it’s great to hear the ‘Shock’ tracks live and devoid of the overproduction which I personally felt marred their last studio record.
Look, I once stayed up until 4 am in a freezing cold Centre Stage at Minehead Butlins to watch Tesla deliver a show stealing set of songs to an audience that by that time in the morning largely resembled how I would imagine a war zone might look. So me, I’ll take that rough memory with the smoothness of ‘Five Man London Jam’ any day of the week just for the pleasure of being able to hear the awesome vocals of Jeff Keith.
What I will never be able to get my head around though is how Tesla have never really become the arena rocking behemoths they so rightly deserved to be, a bit like their heroes UFO I guess.
Buy ‘Five Man London Jam’ Here
Author: Johnny Hayward