Tesla DVD: Band On The Run

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, January 22, 2002 @ 2:45 PM

Tesla’s Release First DVD Home

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The wildly successful “Unplugged” phenomenon just may have started with a most unlikely band, blue-collar hard rockers Tesla, and its 1990 platinum album Five Man Acoustical Jam.Documenting that release, a live concert was filmed and 'Five Man Video Band' was issued.

Now Tesla’s first-ever DVD, the re-mastered (audio and video) Five Man Video Band, released February 26th through Geffen/UME, features acoustic live versions of two then-new songs, covers of Tesla’s favorite jamming classics (including what became a Top 10 hit, “Signs”) and many of their own hit songs -- all recorded at the Trocadero club in Philadelphia.

The performances on Five Man Video Band include renditions of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out,” the Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi” and the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’,” as well as “Signs,” originally by the Five Man Electrical Band (thus the inspiration for the album/video title). The Tesla songs acoustically-rendered from the band’s 1986 debut, the platinum Mechanical Resonance, are “Modern Day Cowboy,” “Before My Eyes,” “Comin’ Atcha Live,” “Little Suzi” and “Gettin’ Better.” From 1989’s double platinum The Great Radio Controversy are “Love Song,” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” “The Way It Is” and “Paradise.” The newest tracks are “Tommy’s Down Home” and “Down Fo’ Boogie.”

Going acoustic unexpectedly happened this way: Amidst the band’s tour for The Great Radio Controversy, Tesla found itself performing live and acoustic at times--a radio show here, an awards show there. And the group warmed up for a leg of the tour with acoustic shows at Slim’s in San Francisco, filling in open dates with other acoustic sets. Throughout, various recordings were made, from Boston area radio stations and broadcasting New York and Detroit concerts to recording its show at the Trocadero for posterity, if nothing else. But when the band returned to hometown Sacramento, CA, before starting work on its third studio album, it learned that one of those Boston stations was playing “Signs” and receiving tremendous response. Encouraged, Tesla perused the Philly tapes, releasing them as Five Man Acoustical Jam.

Tesla continued its winning ways after that success but in 1996 the group broke up. Four years later, singer Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta reunited for a sold-out show at Sacramento’s Arco Arena. Recording projects have since been launched and the band is back on the road. The “Unplugged” concept continues on--and so too does Tesla.

The band has scheduled some acoustic shows for February 2002:

Friday, Feb. 15, 2002 - House of Blues - West Hollywood, CA
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002 - House of Blues/Mandalay Bay Resort - Las Vegas, NV
Sunday, Feb. 17, 2002 - House of Blues - Anaheim, CA

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