Picks and Pans Review: Five Man Acoustical Jam

updated 11/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Tesla

The check is in the mail. I'll still respect you in the morning. Live albums can stand' on their own merits and aren't just greatest-hits collections that bands cynically stitch together in lieu of actually working on a new record. There isn't much the Sacramento, Calif.-based Tesla can do about the first two entries on the Top 10 list of all-time lies. However, the band has at least made a dent in the latter by releasing this effort.

Sure their hits are there, such as "Cumin' Atcha Live" and "Love Sons." So are the obligatory new numbers, "Tommy's Down Home" and "Down Fo' Boogie," along with kitschy covers of such oldies as "Truckin' " and Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs." Still, what sets the record apart is that it was performed acoustically.

MTV's "Unplugged" has made it fashionable for groups to save some electrical energy, but Tesla gives the idea artistic merit. The band has always had a knack for smart, melodic metal music, and playing it sans amplifiers is the perfect way to emphasize material rather than decibels. Even those with severe metalphobia can appreciate this recording, laid down at one Philadelphia concert.

Lead screecher Jeff Keith constantly clowns with the crowd. Guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch put more electricity into playing acoustically than most of their head-banging brethren consume during a stadium concert. And in the end, you're left with a record that is as much fun and intimate as a camp-fire sing-along led by some very loud counselors. (Geffen)

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