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Tesla: Simplicity

After all these years, the Cali-rockers have still got it.

For all the success that Tesla enjoyed in the late 80s and early 90s – selling over ten million records in the US – they lived in the shadow of more illustrious peers: at their label Geffen there was Guns N’ Roses; at their management stable Q Prime, Def Leppard.

But if Tesla never had a phenomenon such as Appetite For Destruction or Hysteria, what they delivered in 1986 with Mechanical Resonance was one of the classic American hard rock debuts. And now, with their seventh album, they have, according to bassist Brian Wheat, “gone back to the mindset of the first album”.

Simplicity is aptly named. Co-produced by Tom Zutaut, who signed the band to Geffen in the 80s, it’s a real straight-shooter, so old-school that one track, the crunchy Ricochet, includes a shout-out to Ted Nugent. And on the mellower songs, especially Burnout To Fade, there’s a touch of class. As David Byrne once said: same as it ever was.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”