Album review: TESLA – Simplicity

Frontiers [Released 9.6.14]

It’s hard to think that Tesla’s first album, “Mechanical Resonance”, came out in 1986- and now here we are nearly 30 years later and their seventhstudio album “Simplicity” is about to be released (although, if you take into account the two volumes of “Real to Reel” and 2011’s much underrated “Twisted Wires”, it is actually their tenth).

The album is a good balance between the band’s recent heavier approach and classic sounding Tesla and is pretty much the perfect Tesla album, and in my opinion the best they have released since reforming in 2000. Relative new boy Dave Rude (he joined in 2006!!) is an exceptionally good fit for the band and if you isolated the guitar parts you would be stunned by the quality of the interplay with fellow guitarist Frank Hannon, the solos and the little runs. Then we get to the vocals- the distinctive style and power of Jeff Keith’s voice do not appear to have been ravaged by the passage of time and “Time Bomb” is a great example of this.

“Simplicity” opens with the track “MP3”, an ode to the ever changing face of music, and the influence that Aerosmith has had on the band is clear to see in “Ricochet” and my favourite track on the album “Flip Side”. It is also heard again on “Cross My Heart” which features some Lynyrd Skynryd style piano and has a Tesla meets country meets Aerosmith vibe.

There are a couple of slower, but not quite ballad tracks in “So Divine”, the excellent “Honestly”,  and “Life Is A River” and then the out and out love songs of the gentler “’Til That Day” and “Other Than Me”, the latter complete with a Beatle like intro. “Break of Dawn” is another outstanding track and then we come to the pairing of “Burnout To Fade”- the album version and the bonus track, which is the writing demo version, side by side these  show exactly how good Tesla are at putting a great song together.

With “Simplicity” Tesla have shown that they are still as good as they were back in 1986 and show no signs of slowing down and, I for one, am happy about that. *****

Review by Nikk Gunns

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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