TESLA – “Call It What You Want” (1991 Geffen UK single)
Yesterday, I reviewed Tesla’s damn fine third album, Psychotic Supper. As part of that, I wanted to talk about this single, the album’s second. It’s an excellent companion to the album proper.
“Call It What You Want” isn’t a bad song. It has a great chorus even if I find the verses sub-par. Where Tesla have always excelled is in their rootsy but eloquent musicianship. Not only are there Lizzy-esque dual guitar harmonies, but there are other things that border on country style.
I also dig the lyric, dated although they may be:
“Heavy metal, hard-core, punk, pop, or thrash,
You can call it anything, it don’t matter to me,
Call it what you want,
It’s all music to me.”
I think Tesla more than most hard rock bands around in 1991 were about breaking down boundaries between genres, and I’m sure this lyric was sincere to them. I know guitarist Tommy Skeoch had a thrash side project going at the time called Thrash Tandoori.
I hate when bands use a regular album track as a B-side! Nonetheless, “Freedom Slaves” is one of the best (if not the best) song from Psychotic Supper. This is the hard rock/heavy metal side of Tesla shining through. A Leppardy riff accompanies a song that boasts an anthemic chorus and dark verses.
The next two tracks are both previously unreleased, and both are covers. “Children’s Heritage” is what I’d call an obscure cover! I’ve never heard this, nor the band that wrote it, Bloodrock a 70’s band from Texas. It’s a good song, straight ahead riff based hard rock. It’s also self produced by Tesla, and is a lot looser than the album material.
More familiar is the old blues classic “Cotton Fields”, rocked up and slowed down from its CCR incarnation. It bares almost no resemblance to the classic Leadbelly version, but it does rock. Dirty slide guitars and wah-wah solos render this version almost as if Zeppelin were covering it. That’s the overall vibe anyway, and few hard rock artists were sounding this raw and authentic in 1991!
In a rare (I assure you) lapse of memory, I’ve forgotten where I got this CD. I think Trevor got it in used, at his store, and sent it to me. This would make sense, since one of his customers, Gord Taylor, used to sell him metal CD singles that he bought in Europe. So that piece fits the puzzle. Either way, whoever originally bought it paid £4.50 at HMV.
Tesla singles are rare in these parts, but thankfully both of these B-sides are now available on the compilation Tesla Gold.