THE GREAT RADIO CONTROVERSY
Released in 1989 (Geffen)
Billboard Chart Position #18
01. Hang Tough
02. Lady Luck
03. Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
04. Be A Man
05. Lazy Days, Crazy Nights
06. Did It For The Money
07. Yesterdaze Gone
08. Makin’ Magic
09. The Way It Is
10. Flight To Nowhere
11. Love Song
13. Party’s Over
Jeff Keith – vocals
Frank Hannon – guitar, piano, organ and background vocals
Tommy Skeoch – guitar and background vocals
Brian Wheat – bass and background vocals
Troy Luccketta – drums and percussion
Produced by Michael Barbiero and Steve Thompson.
The second release from the Sacramento five-some known as Tesla was truly their masterpiece, and more generally, a very good record. Although Tesla were often skimmed as a “hair metal” combo, this is only half the truth and this record stands as evidence. In fact, their songs are something further from the same old verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-chorus scheme and the sex-drugs-rock ‘n’ roll cliche lyrics, but yet manage to keep gritty and tough, thanks in part to an all-around skilled musicianship and a blue-collar attitude, which was much in display.
“Hang Tough” opens up with one of the best bass parts ever and displays great guitar harmonies alongside, with Jeff Keith‘s gritty voice delivering an incredibly infectious melody and positive lyrics about hanging on. It may well be the album’s best cut. “Lady Luck” speeds things up a bit and rocks convincingly with great vocal harmonies in the chorus, while the slightly menacing “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” retains a darker edge but still works out well. The slide guitar intro of “Be A Man” is a good showcase of the laid-back atmosphere this song creates and the incredible guitar solo gives the listener plenty to drool over, while the odd-sounding arpeggio that starts “Lazy Day, Crazy Nights” soon evolves into a peculiar song with a strange dreamy melody, hard to find in your average 80s hard rock band.
“Did It For The Money” is another standout track, a crunchy yet slightly sad intro turns into a furious hard-driven riff with aggressive vocals and a killer solo. The technically complex “Yesterdaze Gone” is a furiously rocking number with a very simple but effective solo. “Makin’ Magic” keeps the rocking level on the very edge and leaves space to the semi-ballad “The Way It Is”, an enjoyable tune. “Flight To Nowhere” holds up quite well, but in the end is probably the album’s weakest link, especially compared to what follows. The hit single “Love Song”, shows a complex acoustic intro, a touching vocal performance, kinda hippie lyrics about universal love (!) and a long guitar solo that can almost compete with “Sweet Child O’Mine”s. Had the intro been shorter (which it was in the video version) the song would have been really perfect. “Paradise” starts as a touching ballad and evolves into a rocker with a funky feel to it, the solo at the end smokes! “Party’s Over”, a good but a bit ‘samey’ cut, ends the album noisily.
In conclusion, Tesla‘s The Great Radio Controversy is a very well-crafted album, truly a masterpiece of 80s hard rock and one of those album you can lend to your glam metal-mocking friends just to have them change their minds. Ah, after having listened to The Great Radio Controversy you can tell why these dudes weren’t wiped away by grunge.
www.teslatheband.com – www.myspace.com/teslatheband
Reviewed by Bomber for Sleaze Roxx, August 2007.