Tesla – Five Man London Jam (UMC)

Just think about this.

It’s 30 years since Tesla released Five Man Acoustical Jam.

Thirty years.

The genre defining record was both unplugged and unprecedented.

In many ways it revealed the band’s true colours.

Tours with Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison and David Lee Roth meant the Sacramento quintet was deeply embedded in the hair metal scene.

And they were caught between a (soft) rock and a hard place.

There was no way Tesla were about to turn their back on arena tours and stadium slots.

But pop metal just wasn’t their thing.

Songwriting rooted in Americana, Southern rock and outlaw country was.

And Five Man Acoustical Jam was the band’s big chance to prove as much.

Billboard top 10 smash Signs underpinned a remarkably assured record.

Another cover – Tesla’s version of The Beatles’ We Can Work It Out – became a cult favourite.

And the acoustic reworking of Love Song finally resonated with fans who missed out first time around.

All three staples appear on Five Man London Jam.

Recorded at Abbey Road as an invite-only one-off this showcase gig could have fallen frustratingly flat.

But such is the enduring quality of Tesla’s finest work the opposite is true.

And in these uncertain times, the guarantee of Jeff Keith’s unique rasp is strangely comforting.

The overlap with Five Man Acoustical Jam will satisfy those content to wallow in nostalgia.

But it’s California Summer Sun, Tied To The Tracks and Forever Loving You that truly shine.

Hewn from 2019’s Phil Collen-produced Shock all three represent Tesla’s energising evolution.

And this triple threat of new tunes prove beyond doubt that Keith and co. remain acutely relevant as rock and roll innovators.

Three decades down the line and Five Man London Jam is a fitting follow-up to its platinum-selling predecessor.

In 1990 Tesla took a punt on reinventing the wheel.

They rolled with it then. And they’ve done it again.