The cowboys were alive and well in the 80’s.
Hard Rock bands really went to town with the cowboy spirit and swagger. Their motorbikes became their trusted horses.
It all started a decade before.
Bad Company told us how bad it was to hang with misfits who would ride into town and shake things up. Thin Lizzy wrote “The Cowboy Song” and the Eagles wrote “Desperado”. Aerosmith showed how easy it was to get “Back In The Saddle”.
Stephen Pearcy told us he was a “Wanted Man”. And in 1986, Bon Jovi was “Wanted Dead or Alive”, a cowboy analogy for life as a touring musician and the piece d resistance came from the modern day cowboys known as Tesla.
“Modern Day Cowboy” is from their debut album “Mechanical Resonance”.
It didn’t really make an impact in Australia however it’s totally solid. If you want to go deep into the album, listen to “Changes,” “Little Suzi” and “Cumin’ Atcha Live.” Actually listen to the whole damn thing.
Jeff Keith is a good singer. He probably didn’t have the rap sheet or the dealer sheet as some of the other vocalists from the bands of his era nor did he have the three octave ranges of other vocalists. What he had was life experiences and musicians who could move between southern rock, classic rock, classic metal and hard rock effortlessly.
The quick hammer on licks to kick off the song is Randy Rhoads, similar to a solo lick he does in “Mr Crowley”, but Hannon and Skeoch morphed it into a riff.
Then the main riff is classic “Sunset Strip” and a big reason why it resonated with punters. It’s simple in its structure, moving from A5 to F5 to G5.
Then that acoustic Am riff in the verses is inspired from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. Whitesnake would incorporate a similar Am riff for “Judgement Day” a few years later.
Then when the verse riff picks up to hard rock, it’s got this Dokken feel. And we get to hear about a stormy night under jet black skies as Billy pulled into town, looking for a fight and of course there was another man, also feeling the same way. Bang, bang…
It’s a showdown, in a no-man’s land
For the cowboy of the modern day
The solo starts off with a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs, (I know, leave it to musicians to have a guitar term associated with sex). And then it goes into this Am to F to G arpeggio lick, which is very Randy Rhoads like in its structure and composition. Then it moves into Joe Perry style bends before coming back to some Ritchie Blackmore style of phrasing, more shred, some classic rock soloing and some more hammer ons and pull offs to finish off the solo section I didn’t want to end.
And then we are told about foreign lands with their terrorist demands pushing their useless cause which makes good people hurt. And the USA and the USSR still tried to out talk each other with who had the biggest penis (missiles) size.