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Tesla – Five Man London Jam



About a year ago, I went to England with my family. We have dear friends that live there, and they showed us so many beautiful and interesting things. As we made our way through London and came upon Abbey Road Studios, it seemed as if that building had a pulse. Much like standing in front of Stonehenge the day before, there was an energy that emanated from it. The majesty and lore of Abbey Road is unsurpassed, and the decision for Tesla to record this album there was a great one. Recording this to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of their popular Five Man Acoustical Jam record, Tesla added to the energy of the space and bottled it for all of us to enjoy.

Tesla is one of those bands that is on another level in the talent department. Singer Jeff Keith sings with such passion and bite, while guitarist Frank Hannon and the rest of the band are intricate and flawless in their raw and stripped down approach. I think this marks the band’s fifth or sixth live album, and there’s a reason for that. This band was made for the live setting. Having seen them three or four times, I can tell you that it is hard to find a tighter unit with as much energy. This record delivers some of that band energy, as well as delivering the energy of Abbey Road. The production is excellent here too, capturing the auditory significance of that spacious and historic recording space where The Beatles and so many others had recorded their masterpieces. When I listen to this, I feel like I’m in the room and that’s pretty special.


The setlist here is a bit predictable, but seemingly appropriate for the acoustic setting. It’s always great to hear “Love Song” or “What You Give” -- great songs are great songs – but they don’t necessarily supply variety and surprise. My favorite moments in this set are when the band does the heavier material. To adapt those kinds of songs takes a lot of talent and effort, and Tesla does it so well. The bluesy drawl and swagger of an acoustic “Cumin’ Atcha Live” is something to behold. They do it a few times here with songs like “Tied To The Tracks” and “Into The Now.” I felt like I got a new song with the acoustic version of “Into The Now,” I didn’t necessarily feel that way with “Love Song”. For me, those are the most interesting moments on the record. “Miles Away” is one of the most powerful moments here, and of course hearing the band do The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” in this setting holds a certain chill factor. Another great thing to see was the faith the band put in their latest 2019 studio release, Shock. They do three songs from the record here, and each of them is a vibrant and fresh addition to the classic set.

If you liked the Five Man Acoustical Jam record back in 1990, this will give you a beautiful update. And, unlike the update to your iPhone that makes you wonder why you did it and has you longing for the older version, this updated set moves things forward and will make you thankful you updated. 

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BONUS INTERVIEW


I had the honor and privilege to speak with Tesla singer Jeff Keith about the band's latest release, Five Man London Jam, and to get his take on a few other things he's done over his long career. Click the play button on the audio player below and hear Jeff share a few stories!


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