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Mechanical Resonance

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Album Review

Sacramento's oddly named Tesla (a moniker inspired by renegade inventor and pioneering electrical engineer Nikola Tesla) took the side door to '80s hard rock success, sneaking up on the charts and into the bedrooms of none-the-wiser glam metal consumers with their rock-solid debut, Mechanical Resonance — itself titled after one of Nikola's better-known experiments, and a fascinating case study in musical compromise if ever there were one. Essentially, the album was partitioned into two quite different halves, with side one predominantly tailored to seduce the aforementioned music fans via radio-friendly templates and therefore packed with mostly throwaway, cliché-ridden arena anthems like "EZ Come, EZ Go," "Cumin' Atcha Live," and the gloriously dumb "Rock Me to the Top," boasting few surprises but plenty of testosterone. Yes, a few hints of Tesla's substantial songwriting intelligence can be glimpsed within the gritty strut of "Gettin' Better" and the bluesy balladry of "We're No Good Together," but most of the band's more mature and accomplished songs are saved for Mechanical Resonance's revelatory side two. Here, lead guitarist Frank Hannon really takes charge and establishes himself as the band's de facto difference maker, beginning with an epic of Led Zeppelin-like class and complexity in "Modern Day Cowboy," which was built upon a lopsided riff so irresistible that not even its finger-twisting complexity could keep it from becoming one of their most popular standards. This was followed by another pair of eventual fan favorites doubling as good examples of Tesla's creative range, since the wintry drama of the piano-laced "Changes" stood in stark contrast to the upbeat summer vibe of "Little Suzi." And finally, as though the aforementioned detours didn't proffer enough food for thought, Tesla even flirted with art rock on the odd rhythms and clever economy of "Cover Queen," before concluding with the desolate sobriety of closer "Before My Eyes." Given all these qualities and contrasts, it's no wonder that Mechanical Resonance stood out as one of the 1980s' most eclectic hard rock albums, and provided a formidable introduction to one of the era's most underrated American bands.

Customer Reviews

Underrated Metal Gem

Mechanical Resonance is one of the best metal albums ever recorded and should be listened to by every rocker / metalhead out there. It is easily the band's best album. Frank Hannon is a most excellent guitar player and Jeff Keith has one of Metal's most distinctive voices. Not only do the hits "Modern Day Cowboy," "Gettin' Better," and "Little Suzi" rock, but the album tracks "Love Me," "Changes," "Cover Queen," "EZ Come EZ Go," and "Cumin' Atcha Live" are all stellar cuts as well. Tesla is a searing band that is constantly overlooked, and certainly one of the many bands who shouldn't have been unseated during the 1990s grunge storm.

For me, this release is a classic

I was a child of the 80's, and went through high school during the Headbanger's Ball/Hair Metal stage of American music. Although I remember listening to earlier hard rock discs (actually, I was buying cassettes back then!) I will never forget the day my older brother brought this one home. I listened to "Gettin' Better" over and over and over again. There is just something different about Tesla. Their musicianship goes well beyond what you saw with so many of the cookie-cutter glam bands of that era. Although not my favorite Tesla release, this rates 5 stars in my book simply because of its impact upon my musical tastes. I was 13 years old when this came out, and my poor parents had to deal with guitar-heavy music every day until I left for college. There simply is not a bad song on "Mechanical Resonance" but if you want to sample what I think are the best tracks, pick "Gettin Better" "Modern Day Cowboy" and "Cumin Atcha Live."

Modern Day Cowboys

Unquestionably one of the best rock bands of the 80's in top form. While GREAT RADIO CONTROVERSY has been more critically acclaimed, "Little Suzi", "Modern Day Cowboy", and "Gettin' Better" rank as great rock songs on any list. Tesla always set themselves apart from other 80s metal bands by their lyrics, subjects, and musicianship especially in later albums. This is a great introduction to the band and a great value at the album price.


Formed: 1985 in Sacramento, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Tesla emerged during the glory days of hair metal, the band's music was equally indebted to contemporary blues and '70s-style hard rock, a fusion that helped differentiate albums like The Great Radio Controversy from its contemporaries. Despite the refreshing lack of posturing, Tesla was hit just as hard as the rest of the pop-metal world when grunge arrived in the early 1990s....
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Mechanical Resonance, Tesla
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