Look, I like hitting a bar and listening to a band of 40-year-olds crank out old classic rock tunes as much as anyone. Would I buy a CD of it, though? Not on your life! And maybe that’s why I’m just not feeling Tesla’s latest release, a cover album called Real to Real. I mean, sure, the band from the ‘80s that should have been from the ‘70s making an album in the ‘00s, on analog equipment no less? It should be a surefire hit, but…it’s just not. Maybe it’s the utterly flat sound to the album; the bass guitar spends an awful lot of time doubling the guitars, and the guitars just don’t sound big and beefy enough to make any sort of impact. On a technical level, the playing itself sounds fine, and some of the solos are even a little bit impressive, but nothing that’ll get your heart beating faster. And as for the execution of the songs themselves, well…they’re just adequate. The first single is a version of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” that’s just close enough to the original to piss me off when they deviate from it. The Beatles are here (“I’ve Got a Feeling”), The Temptations are here (“Ball of Confusion”), and The Stones are here (“Honky Tonk Woman”), and they all get run through the Tesla filter in a way that makes them sound like what hair metal would sound like if it was called hair metal in the ‘70s. We enjoy the bar bands because we’ve had a couple of drinks, we’re around friends, and the lead singer dresses like Steven Tyler taking dietary advice from Meat Loaf. You just can’t get that from a little round slab of plastic, and left to its own devices, the music just ain’t the same. Go see ‘em live—they’re a blast, I’m sure—just don’t bother buying an album that’s more of a morning after than a night out.
// Notes from the Road
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