“We’re just children of the 60’s, watched the 70’s go by. Now we made it through the 80’s, my my how time does fly!” – Jeff Keith
TESLA – Psychotic Supper (Geffen, 1991)
Psychotic Supper, the 3rd studio album by Tesla, is thus far their most adventurous and experimental. Is is neither as immediate as Mechanical Resonance nor as focused as The Great Radio Controversy, instead focusing on longer song structures and diverse influences. It is difficult to penetrate, and even once you do finally dig in, there are some songs that simply refuse to stick to the memory. However one must applaud Tesla for sheer musical ability and refusal to do the commercial thing and sell out for the long awaited third album.
Taking their love of Nikola Tesla to the nth degree, they present a history lesson in the smokin’ “
Man Out Of Time Edison’s Medicine”. What an incredible song. I still remember seeing the music video and being blown away by the solos. Not only are there guitar solos, but Tommy Skeoch torments the theremin, before Frank Hannon slipps on a bass and plays a bass solo too!
Great rock tunes include: “Change In The Weather”, the groovin’ “Freedom Slaves”, the jokey but smokin’ “Toke About It”, the aforementioned “Edison’s Medicine”, and the thrash-like “Don’t De-Rock Me”. Y’see children, back in the 80’s when Al Gore’s wife Tipper was a founder of a pro-censorship group called the PMRC, there really were places called de-rock centers. You could send your kids to detox them off rock music and turn them onto safe alternatives. No lie. (Is it any wonder that bands like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana came along during this period?)
There are also a series of long, exploratory songs such as the mournful “Song And Emotion”, dedicated to Steve “Steamin'” Clarke of Def Leppard who passed away in January of that year. Skeoch paid tribute to Clarke’s “Gods of War” parts with his E-bow solo, listen for it. Tommy Skeoch was a devoted Def Leppard fan, and Tesla had also opened for the Leppard because they shared management.
There are ballads too. I don’t think any are particularly standouts in the way “Love Song” was, but “What You Give” was a respectable hit. I don’t check out Tesla so much for the ballads (even though they are excellent at them) but for the rockers. Jeff Keith’s raspy but powerful voice can excel at either. The man is one of the most underrated singers in rock.
If grunge didn’t hit, I could have imagined this album spawning multiple hit singles and videos for at least a year.
I only own one single from this album, which is “Call It What You Want”. It has some interesting B-sides, so tomorrow, we’ll take a look at that one! Hope to see you then.