Tommy Skeoch: you’re out! According to the band, Tommy had some drug issues and they drew a line. He went “Steppin’ Over” that line and was fired for it. Thus, the sole unreleased song on Tesla’s very first greatest hits album is an ode to their breakup: “Steppin’ Over”. It was recorded as a four-piece, and the last thing they did together until a 2000 reunion.
The 90s were not kind to hard rock bands, and many of them came to the end of their record deals. Compilations and live albums rolled out to fulfil obligations. Time’s Makin’ Changes – The Best of Tesla is a sad example of one such contractual obligation. As if the bland cover was not warning enough, the skimpy booklet is the dead giveaway.
What it has:
Key tracks such as “Modern Day Cowboy”, “Gettin’ Better”, “Little Suzi”, “Love Songs”, “Signs”, “Edison’s Medicine”, “The Way It Is”, and “What You Give”.
What it lacks: “Hang Tough”, “Shine Away”, “Change in the Weather”, “Call It What You Want”, “Freedom Slaves”, “EZ Come EZ Go”, “Comin’ Atcha Live”, and an unedited “Heaven’s Trail”. The edited version included here is missing too much of the opening.
There are a couple questionable inclusions: “Song and Emotion”, a lengthy tribute to Def Leppard’s Steve Clarke, seems more like deep-cut material. When it comes to the last Tesla album on Geffen, 1994’s Bust A Nut, who can say which tracks the most important. It seems like the album might have been better represented by edgier material like “Rubberband”, or “Solution”. Might have livened things up too.
It’s also kind of deceiving that the two live tracks included are not advertised as live. “Signs”, well, no worries, because it was only ever recorded live. But “Paradise” is also from the Five Man Acoustical Jam album. This is probably done so not to confuse first time Tesla buyers who didn’t realize all this time that “Signs” is a live song.
As for the new song “Steppin’ Over”, it sounds like Tesla even though they were down to one guitar player. It doesn’t sound new or different, just a continuation of the Bust A Nut sound, including the sad wisdom. It takes a neat Zeppelin-y turn around the 2:18 mark but otherwise it’s not what you’d call a greatest hit.
It’s a shame how the Tesla story went down, but you’d do well by at least adding the first three albums to your collection.