Tesla – ‘Full Throttle Live’



Jeff Keith – vocals
Frank Hannon – guitar
Brian Wheat – bass
Dave Rude – guitars
Troy Luccketta - drums
Steve Brown - ( (formerly of Trixter) – touring drummer on this release)


1.) “Miles Away”
2.) “Changes”
3.) “Time To Rock”
4.) “Breakin’ Free”
5.) “Call It What You Will”
6.) “Lazy Days Crazy Nights”
7.) “Cold Blue Steel”
8.) “Edison’s Medicine”
bonus track:
9.) “S.O.S. (Too Bad)”


   Tesla is an American hard rock band originating from Sacramento, California. The band formed in 1984 as City Kidd and was renamed to Tesla during the recording of their first album on the advice of their manager. According to the    Love Song: Songfacts, their name (and the inspiration for some songs) comes from Nikola Tesla, the legendary scientist and inventor who quite possibly is single-handedly responsible for the “mad scientist” trope. Originally, the group included Jeff Keith (vocals), Frank Hannon (guitar), Tommy Skeoch (guitar), Brian Wheat (bass) and Troy Luccketta (drums). In 2006, Skeoch was replaced by Dave Rude, who is now an official member of the band.
   Tesla’s music fit well with the blasting sounds of their 80s hair metal and glam rock contemporaries. Yet it was more bluesy and lyrics dealt with other themes than just the usual, girls, alcohol and violence. But what set them even more apart from their contemporaries was their t-shirt and jeans image, a ‘street’ look reminiscent of the Ramones (and other 70s punk groups) that was in strong contrast of the leather, spandex, and flashy-make type look of the time.
   The band’s early lifespan as City Kidd brought them considerable frustration, with them failing to break into the musical mainstream while also competing with another band with the same name. Their mutation into Tesla provided a clear shot at success. ‘Mechanical Resonance’, their debut that the boys released in 1986, became a commercial smash while also receiving significant critical praise. That album was certified platinum by the RIAA on October 5, 1989.
   In total, the group has released eight studio albums of original music, the latest of them being 2019’s ‘Shock’. They have also created 2 double-disc covers album, titled ‘Real To Reel’ & ‘Reel To Reel II’, as well as a number of compilations and live albums. Their sound has focused on a particularly melodic and accessible kind of hard rock with strong shades of classic heavy metal as well.
   The band derived their name, certain album titles (e.x. ‘The Great Radio Controversy’, ‘Mechanical Resonance’, etc), as well as some song content from events relating to Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American inventor and electrical engineer born in the 19th century in Smiljan, Austria-Hungary, modern day Croatia.


   ‘Full Throttle Live’ was recorded live at the Full Throttle Saloon on August 8, 2022 at the Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota.
   For the set list the band chose nine songs that span the band’s entire career from ‘Mechanical Resonance’, released in 1986, up to their latest album title ‘Shock’ released in 2021 and even adding an unreleased  song titled “Time To Rock” recorded in 2022.  The guys even opted to replace such hits and set list staples such as “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Love Song” for deeper never played songs like “Breakin’ Free” and “Lazy Days Crazy Nights”.  The band, which over the years is no stranger to cover songs even swapped fan favorite, “Sign” for Aerosmith’s S.O.S [Too Bad]”.  If this release is Tesla’s full set list from that night the band only performed nine songs which roughly equals about forty-five minutes just a little over what the time is for a standard opening act.  Now don’t get me wrong I know during the famous Sturgis bike week owner Michael Ballard has a band performing every night that averages a crowd of about 20,000 bikers each night.  Yet I found it odd unless Tesla was an opening act that they performed just forty-five minutes with this set list.  Now the fan in me and someone who has seen Tesla on numerous occasions, if I had gone to this performance just on set list alone.  I would have been very let down!  However, thank God I am not reviewing this as a fan but a critic.

   As a teen I was very lucky I lived in a town that was in a triangle between Louisville Kentucky, Evansville Indiana and Nashville Tennessee with my first rock concert was AC/DC on their ‘For Those About To Rock’ tour, with the opening act being Fastway (as any rock fan will tell you. Your first concert is something you never forget).  Since then I have seen hundreds of shows and hundreds of bands both signed and unsigned.  In fact, looking back on that time I very lucky.  Out of all those performances there are just a handful of bands where I walked away saying they sounded live just as good if not better than they do in the studio.  Tesla is one of these bands.  Not only did they sound amazing however, they generally acted as if they wanted to perform for the audience.
   If you look at my music collection you will find that I do not have very many live albums.  The main reason for this is basically because a lot of bands will go into the studio and touch things up even going as far as what they did with kiss’s ‘Alive’ by adding more crowd noise to give the listener the impression that the crowd was bigger than what it actually was.  From a personal perspective I feel this is wrong.  If a label is going to release a live album, then let the fans hear it exactly like it was.  I am about eighty-five percent Tesla did not do this.  I say this for the simple fact that the guys in Tesla don’t believe in doing this.  A perfect example is their acoustic live release ‘Five Man Acoustic Jam’ if you have ever noticed the album does not include “Little Suzie” yet the VHS does.  The reason for this is because Jeff did not like his vocal performance.  So unless Jeff’s beliefs have changed, why would he do that now?   There is one more reason I say this much as it pains me to say this.  The cover of the classic Aerosmith song “S.O.S. [Too Bad]” is the worst cover song I have ever heard Tesla do. It is just plain awful especially when you compare it to the multiple cover songs they have done in the past. I will say this, if you took the Aerosmith cover off their set list that night which I will say they could have just had an off night or not rehearsed the song enough they are dead on with their songs and sound as good as they always have.  It is just there is not enough meat on the bone to satisfy you.
   ‘Full Throttle Live’ is for only two types of fans, the ultimate die-hard Tesla fan (which I thought, until this I was) or someone who is just a fan of live albums.  I can’t justify in good faith to our readers or the $13.00 plus s&h from Amazon.  Too tell you to buy this release.  Especially once you compare it to Tesla’s previous live releases.