Tesla: ‘Five Man London Jam’
FIVE MAN LONDON JAM
Released on March 27, 2020 (Hip-O)
Sometimes, it’s best just to leave an iconic album stand on its own. That certainly was the case for Lynch Mob, who decided to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of their excellent debut record Wicked Sensation, by “reimagining” those songs and coming up with the rather awful Wicked Sensation Reimagined. Clearly, Lynch Mob should have not bothered “reimagining” the tracks from their debut album but George Lynch and Oni Logan apparently couldn’t resist. They were able to capitalize on the success from their debut record to come up with a different but disappointing version of it.
Tesla‘s Five Man London Jam obviously capitalizes on the success of their 1990 groundbreaking record Five Man Acoustical Jam. I loved that latter record because you could really feel the band’s energy and excitement. I was wary of picking up Five Man London Jam since it looked like a kind of redo of Five Man Acoustical Jam and Tesla seem to have lost a lot of their fire on their last few studio albums (2014’s Simplicity and 2019’s Phil Collen influenced Shock). While some might blame this on guitarist Tommy Skeoch‘s absence from the band since 2006, I don’t think that’s the main reason since Tesla were able to come up with a very good studio album in Forever More back in 2008 with Dave Rude replacing Skeoch.
Although there are only five songs from Five Man Acoustical Jam — “Cumin’ Atcha Live / Truckin'”, “We Can Work it Out”, “Signs”, “Paradise” and “Love Song” — that made their way onto Five Man London Jam, I found that the latter album is really missing a lot of the energy that could be found on the former. Sonically, Five Man London Jam sounds really good so from a production standpoint, the record is very good. But the album just feels kind of flat. Part of it has to do with the song selection. Three songs from Shock are three songs too many. In particular, the mid-way point of the record is very hard to get through with the lacklustre “California Summer Song” and “Forever Loving You” killing my interest in proceeding any further in terms of listening to the album. Another thought that crossed my mind is why bother listening to Five Man London Jam when I can just listen to Five Man Acoustical Jam, where I can really feel the band members’ passion and energy. It’s almost as if Tesla are just going through the motions on Five Man London Jam.
Overall, I found Five Man London Jam a hard album to get through. I am always happy when an iconic band like Tesla releases new material but I regret having purchased Five Man London Jam. It looks nice alongside the rest of my CDs in my collection but it will likely never see the light of day again, and especially when I can put Five Man Acoustical Jam for a spin. Sometimes, it’s best to just leave an iconic album stand on its own and that’s what Tesla should have done with Five Man Acoustical Jam instead of going down that route one more time with Five Man London Jam.
01. Cumin’ Atcha Live / Truckin’
02. Tied To The Tracks
03. We Can Work It Out
05. What You Give
06. California Summer Song
07. Forever Loving You
08. Miles Away
10. Call It What You Want
11. Stir It Up
12. Into The Now
13. Love Song
Jeff Keith – lead vocals
Frank Hannon – guitar, vocals
Dave Rude – guitar, vocals
Brian Wheat – bass, vocals, piano
Troy Luccketta – drums, percussion
Produced by Anamaria Hennessy
Audio mixed by Ronan McHugh
Audio mastered by Mazen Murad
Executive producers: Tesla, Jeff Fura and Christopher Jenkins
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, December 2020
Tesla‘s “Signs” video (live at Abbey Road Studios on June 12, 2019):
Tesla‘s “What You Give” video (live at Abbey Road Studios on June 12, 2019):
Tesla‘s “We Can Work It Out” video (live at Abbey Road Studios on June 12, 2019):