Tesla is a rock band formed in Sacramento, CA, in late 1981. The original version of Tesla included singer Jeff Keith, guitarist Frank Hannon, drummer Troy Luccketta, bassist Brian Wheat, and guitarist Tommy Skeoch. This line-up has remained intact since its formation, save for Tommy Skeoch, who left the group in 2006 and would be replaced by Dave Rude. Tesla never gained major commercial success outside the San Francisco Bay Area. The band has sold nearly 15 million albums and toured extensively in the United States and overseas. Its debut album, Mechanical Resonance, peaked #32 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, while the follow-up album “The Great Radio Controversy” debuted at #18. Today, Tesla has released eight studio albums. Seven of them have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. The band’s latest album, “Shock,” was released in 2019 and rated 4.5 out of the possible 5.0 by Cryptic Rock. The following list ranks all eight of Tesla’s original studio albums, according to Classic Rock History.
8. Real to Reel (2007)
Tesla released “Real to Reel’ companion discs in August 2007. It’s a classic rock cover album, the first release after Dave Rude joined the band. The album has been certified Gold. Overall, Real to Reel is a good album and great addition to the Tesla discography. The songs are well done, especially since they tried to keep them as close to the original sound as possible. Not many people love cover albums, but Real to Reel is one of the good ones, and it’s got some great reviews.
7. Simplicity (2004)
The early 2000s had many 70s and 80s rock bands making a comeback. For some reason, while many of them tried to stay true to their original sound and style, Tesla did not. They released a new album in 2004 called “Simplicity.” It was a commercial flop and received mixed reviews from fans due to the change in style. Some liked it for being different; others hated it for being too different. I’m among the group that did not like the change. I think Tesla has a great rock sound and style, and “Simplicity” took it in a new direction. It did not work for me.
6. Into the Now (2006)
Into the Now isn’t a hard-hitting rocking album. But still, it is classic Tesla. It contains what you expect to hear when you put in a Tesla album. All the songs are good, even if some sound a little too similar. The best tracks are “Caught in a Dream,” “Words Can’t Explain,” and “Only You.” The rest of the songs are also good, but not so much compared to their other albums. The album was released after a six-year hiatus because guitarist Tommy Skeoch had been sent to rehab for drug addiction. The band would reunite in 2004 to release the album “Real to Reel.” It peaked #31 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Gold.
5. Forever More (2008)
“Forever More” is an excellent album with a different sound than other Tesla releases, but it is still their best musically. The sound is perfect, the songs are excellent, and the lyrics are good too. Tesla is still going strong in 2019, so I think they should consider a new album in the near future. They just need to find that perfect balance between their original 70s/80s sound and their newer sound. “Forever More” is an excellent example of that. The best songs are “Forever More,” “One Day at a Time,” “Falling Apart,” and “All of Me.”
4. Mechanical Resonance (1986)
“Mechanical Resonance” was Tesla’s first album after signing a deal with Geffen Records in 1986. It peaked #32 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. The album’s seventh single, “Modern Day Cowboy,” peaked #35 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. The rest of the songs are perfect too. “Little Suzi” is another classic Tesla song. Favorite tracks are “Modern Day Cowboy,” “Song and Emotion,” “Gettin’ Better,” and “Little Suzi.”
3. Bust a Nut (1994)
Bust a Nut is one of Tesla’s most underrated albums. It has a lot of underrated songs. If not for anything else, you’ll love it for its unique, pure rock sound. “Games People Play” is one of my favorites. The album has many good songs like “Mama’s Fool,” “Need Your Lovin’,” and “A lot to Lose.” As you may have noticed, Tesla has never shied off from imitating great sounds. They’re still deeply rooted in older blues-rock and 80s metal and pop-rock while leaning more on the latter. Bust a Nut is one of the albums that best captures their true roots. It’s a no non-sense rock album, where ballads are the exception, not the rule.
2. The Great Radio Controversy (1989)
The Great Radio Controversy is another Tesla album that has a lot of underrated songs on it, including “Gettin’ Better,” “Hang Tough,” and “Love Song.” The best one here is probably “Heaven’s Trail (no way out.)” The album contains Tesla’s best ballad, “Love Song.” In fact, the entire song is a love letter to rock ‘n’ roll. Frank Hannon wrote it to respond to all of his friends who told him that there couldn’t be a great rock band from Sacramento. “The Great Radio Controversy” is definitely one of Tesla’s best albums.
1. Psychotic Supper (1991)
“Psychotic Supper” was the band’s third album for Geffen. It was certified Gold in the US. This album doesn’t have a single bad song, but it is very different from all their other albums. The sound on this album borrows more from metal and hard rock than classic rock and AOR while still managing to capture some of Tesla’s older moods too. “Edison’s Medicine” was supposedly inspired by Thomas Edison’s rivalry with Nikola Tesla. If Tesla ever does get tired of their current sound, they should try something like this album again. It would definitely please fans who like both sides of the band.