Tesla's Jeff Keith in "Love Song"
Love Is All Around Tesla
Welcome to Forgotten Videos. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice-versa…. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.
"Love is all around you/Love is knocking outside your door/Waiting for you, is this love made just for two?/Keep an open heart and you'll find love again, I know." So sings Tesla's optimistic (and yellow headband-brandishing) lead vocalist Jeff Keith during the flower-poweresque refrain in "Love Song."
Formed in Sacramento, Calif., Keith and his bandmates — guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, drummer Troy Luccketta, and bassist Brian Wheat — got their collective start under the moniker City Kidd. The band changed their name shortly thereafter to Tesla in honor of the late Nikola Tesla, a pioneering electrical engineer who filed one of the first radio patents in 1896.
Heading south down Interstate 5, the band performed at a variety of showcases in Los Angeles before being scooped up by Geffen Records, a label home to other rock acts such as Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses and Whitesnake. Showcasing a sound owing more to '70s hard rock than hair metal, in 1986 Tesla released their debut album, Mechanical Resonance, which peaked at a respectable No. 32 on the Billboard 200. The Great Radio Controversy followed in 1989, and the band eluded the proverbial sophomore jinx with the album going on to attain double-platinum status, catapulted by the ballad "Love Song," which became the band's first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. A year later Tesla released Five Man Acoustical Jam and scored the biggest hit of their career with an acoustic cover of the Five Man Electrical Band's anti-establishment anthem "Signs."
Though not included in the video edit, the studio version of "Love Song" begins with a quiet classically influenced acoustic piece. The musical makeup of the rest of the song is ripe with standard, though no less impressive, rock ballad elements, including stacked six-string and 12-string acoustic guitars, clean and lightly distorted guitar textures, the snappy entrance of bass and drums in the first chorus, a carefully crafted guitar solo, and a quiet fade-out.
As for the video, "Love Song" contains many of the hair metal ballad video staples that permeated MTV in the late '80s: band member grins and long bus rides, afternoon rehearsals segueing to live concert pandemonium, lighters, screaming girls with homemade banners, and obligatory guitar solo spotlights. Perhaps lending to the cozy feel of the proceedings, the video was shot before a hometown crowd at the Cal Expo Amphitheater in Sacramento.
Tesla released two additional studio albums before taking a hiatus in the mid-'90s. The band resurfaced in 2001 with a reunion tour and subsequent live album, Replugged Live, and has since released two studio albums (2004's Into The Now and 2008's Forever More) and a two-disc covers project (2007's Real To Reel).
Still knocking outside your door, Tesla is currently on tour in the United States and celebrating "25 years of rockin' the world."
Is love all around you? Got any Forgotten Video recommendations? Leave us a comment.