REVIEW: Tesla – “Call It What You Want” (single)

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.

4/5 stars

OMG MORE TESLA_0003

15 comments

  1. They’re pretty generous with the B-Sides on this one! Nice. Will you be reviewing Tesla Gold at any point? Is that a decent place to start if I wanted some Tesla?

    The lyrics you chose do pose the question: Why wasn’t Tommy Skeoch’s side project just called “Music Tandoori”?

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      1. Haha mostly from me! Yeah – make it “official”. I reckon it would be a good one to do anyway. There seems to be a lot of Tesla love around these parts…

        Deke, cheers for the info! I’ll definitely be exploring these guys if the price is right.

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  2. Mike,cool had no idea this cd existed ! HMO ,I think Gold is a good starting point. A total retrospective of there career which is good but u will find on any Tesla album those tracks that aren’t out there in various compilations those hidden gems so to speak.
    I would say if you can find the first four studio albums cheap ..go for it you won’t be disappointed!

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    1. Plus the acoustic one. That album is really, really good. It’s hard to get excited about an acoustic album today, but when they did it, I had never heard an entirely acoustic performance before in my life!

      Glad I decided to do this Tesla feature. I guess I’ll have to do more!

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  3. Wonder if he was part of the production team on Sport Of Kings!!!!
    Ha
    Actually did Gray produce the first Candlebox?? I thought that record was pretty good for the time….

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    1. Yes he did. As part of my research, I discovered that it went 3x platinum. This is probably why he got attached to several hard rock bands afterwards. I’m having fun with writing this. You might recognize some M.E.A.T content…

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  4. My 2c tale Thrash Tandoori been lookin for El Dorado Saloon Sacramento live show vidz to watch and reminisce. side project or not..the TT show at ElDo was a handful.. neck snappin good. Taz did the pic snappin. sigh nice site

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