Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1986 – Part 2.5: Tesla – Mechanical Resonance

In the early 80s, Frank Hannon and Brian Wheat took a band name from a Y&T album and started playing UFO, Scorpions and Def Leppard covers. Jeff Keith, Troy Luccketta and Tommy Skeoch joined after and the band became known as City Kidd.

A three month residency at a U.S Army base would give them the opportunity to write songs and then play them live. Most of the songs written for the debut and some of the songs for “The Great Radio Controversy” were written during this period.

Jack Russell from “Great White” became a fan and he got Tom Zutaut to check em out, who then promised em a recording contract, but they had to wait until the end of 85, as he was moving from Elektra to Geffen.

They got a Q Prime deal but couldn’t get a producer to work with them. Rick Rubin, Max Norman and Bruce Fairbairn rejected them. Zutaut brought in Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero but their background was dance music and they did some time mixing rock albums. Hardly an ideal choice and they also tried to get out of the gig.

Mid 86, City Kidd changed their name to Tesla and “Mechanical Resonance” was released on November 24, 1986, by Geffen Records.

It’s on Spotify, but they took off “The Great Radio Controversy”. Why they removed it, I guess we’ll never know.

“EZ Come EZ Go”

The funky groove to kick it off hides the rocker the song really is.

The verses are very Def Leppard like (first two albums Lep), in the sense of dynamics (soft and loud), the pulse like bass/bass drum and vocal melodies. But the Chorus rocks hard, like AC/DC and Aerosmith hard.

Then the lead breaks show a guitar hero aspect to the band.

In essence, if this was the first song you heard and it didn’t move ya, then you need to check yourself for a pulse.

There comes a time when you’ve got to let things go as fast as they come
Wait and see what tomorrow may bring you, get it all while you can

I know it sounds clichéd today, but to a kid growing up, it was eye opening.

Like a new creed, a new truth.

“Cumin’ Atcha Live”

Written by Hannon, Keith and Wheat. If feels like a band jamming in the style of Van Halen. Even one of the riffs you hear in the first 30 seconds comes from a Van Halen song. The whole solo section feels like an improv jam.

My favourite part is between the 3.18 to 3.53 mark in the leads.

“Gettin’ Better”

Written by Hannon and Keith. One of my favourites.

As soon as I heard the arpeggio intro I was racking my brain as to what song it reminds me of. The D to A to Bm chord progression reminds me of “Goodbye To Romance”. Tesla would use this chord progression again in the “Love Song” intro. Mark Tremonti was a fan, so it was no surprise to hear it in “One Last Breath”.

And when the distorted chords kick in, again I am reminded about something familiar. Maybe “Highway To Hell”.

I’m a hard workin’ man, doin’ all that I can, tryin’ to make ends meet
Just a-makin’ my way through the jungle today, it’s gettin’ the best of me

But it’s only gettin’ better, and a change is gonna come my way

My Dad worked two jobs to survive in Australia. My mum never worked as she was tasked with raising the family and keeping the house running. And I’m thinking did it get better for him. He believes so, but my Mum doesn’t. And for me, both my wife and I are working jobs so we can survive in this country and go on some holidays. We don’t know anything different.

“2 Late 4 Love”

Written by the band again, the embryo to “Hang Tough” is right here in the Intro.

I can’t believe this fucked up world in which we’re livin’ in
Still I do the best that I can
Always got me on the lookout for a getaway
Runnin’ hard, I’m a rock ‘n’ roll man

Work to live and don’t live to work. The world will always disappoint you, so just do your best to get bye.

“Rock Me to the Top”

It’s a Keith and Skeoch composition. One of my favourites. It just rocks and rolls its way through my brain. A totally different style.

Rock me, rock me (rock), rock me to the top, to the top, baby

How can you not sing-along to it?

“We’re No Good Together”

Written by Hannon, Keith and Luccketta and I’m a fan of its slow bluesy feel. Very Bad Company’sih and Led Zeppelin’ish. Aerosmith wrote a similar track on “Pump” called “What It Takes”.

And it picks up for the lead break and outro, like “Free Bird”, only shorter.

“Modern Day Cowboy”

It kicks off side 2. A Hannon, Keith and Skeoch composition.

When the verse arpeggios kick in, it’s like the “Kashmir” riff, as each note moves up chromatically.

Also check out the lead breaks on this.

Foreign lands
With their terrorist demands
Only cause the good to hurt

Like so many others we have grown up with terror in our lives. Some experience it closely and it’s on the news when it happens and the innocent are always the ones to suffer.

The U.S.A., the U.S.S.R. with their six-guns to the side
I see the message written on the wall. Too much anger deep inside

This was a thing once upon a time. Communism versus democracy. It looks like the scars never really went away because it’s still a thing. And people thought that once the Berlin Wall fell down, democracy would rule. But the older ones from Eastern Europe like my grandfather, they knew that a new dictatorship, probably worse than the one before, was just a few years away from resurfacing.

Bang bang, I shoot ’em up
Bang bang, blow you away
It’s a showdown in the no man’s land for the cowboy of the modern day

It’s a showdown!

“Changes”

Another band composition. One of my favorite Tesla songs ever, as it moves from an emotive piano intro into a vibrato style riff.

Changes, time’s makin’ changes in my life
Rearrangin’, can’t seem to stop the hands of time
I remember, I was so young, I was much too young to see
Now I’m older, growing older, and I see things differently

A commitment to self-development and self-learning makes me question a lot of things that I once held as truth. But it all takes time. As time moves forwards, so do the changes. We don’t have three channels anymore. We don’t have dial up internet.

“Little Suzi”

A Ph.D. cover, written by Jim Diamond and Tony Hymas.

The “Albatross” intro was written by Hannon. The original version of the song had synths and was electronic, but Tesla made it an acoustic country rock style cut. In other words they made it awesome.

“Love Me”

It’s day and I’m feelin’ high, what’s the chances for you and I

What kind of high was Jeff Keith on?

Written by Hannon, Keith and Wheat, I can hear UFO and Bad Company in this. I reckon CC DeVille was also listening closely as I can hear “Nothing But A Good Time” in this.

Also check out the lead break, just for the soul and blues rock licks.

“Cover Queen”

A Hannon and Keith composition.

The “Blackout” from Scorpions inspired intro gets me interested. The verses swagger like Aerosmith. And in the last minute of the song it’s pure EVH style jamming.

“Before My Eyes”

It’s a darker cut, almost Dio like, written by Hannon, Keith, Luccketta and Skeoch composition.

If you like Van Halen and Aerosmith, there is enough here to keep you interested. If you like 70’s British acts like Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Free, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple, there is enough here to keep you interested.

If you like the Sunset Strip sounds of Motley Crue, RATT, WASP, Quiet Riot and Ratt, there is enough to keep you interested. If you like acts like Y&T, Triumph, Sammy Hagar and Montrose, those sounds are also here. And if you like the sounds of European acts like Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Judas Priest, then they are also present.

Tesla basically rocks.

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5 thoughts on “1986 – Part 2.5: Tesla – Mechanical Resonance

  1. Wow thats some A list producers who said no to them. Where did you read that? Tesla though made four very good records (the first four) I caught them opening for Motley Crue on the Feelgood Tour and on the Psychotic Supper Tour when they headlined(Firehouse opened) Skeoch was the loose cannon in this band and gave them that edge live for sure.
    Great band.

  2. Man, love this album. One of the great debut albums of any band in my book. Modern Day Cowboy and Little Suzy sucked me in and made me a fan. Saw them open for Lep and they were fantastic.

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