Tesla, "Psychotic Supper" -- Big Hair, Big Sound, Big Reissue

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Tesla Psychotic Supper 2LP set on vinyl

Tesla’s now classic 1991 release PSYCHOTIC SUPPER was the band’s 3rd studio album. It is thought by many, including myself and the band members, to be their best. Now it is being reissued in a 2LP set, which, I believe (but I could be wrong; it happens), is the first time this album will have been released on vinyl. The album contains the hits “What You Give”, “Call It What You Want”, and “Song & Emotion” (my favorite along with “Toke About it”), and it is not one that I had on vinyl.

Tesla was one of those bands that guys into metal during the middle 70s to early 80s classified as “thrash” metal, “speed” metal, “hair” metal -- even “glam” metal -- along the lines of Queensryche, Dokken, Ratt, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Poison, and Metallica, just to name a few. These were bands that took the Heavy Metal foundation laid by bands like AC/DC, Judas Priest, Motorhead, and Black Sabbath and evolved it into the next generation of metal. This type of metal, though often chastised by the older headbangers at the time because it was faster, rawer in its lyrics and instrumentation, still had its place, and old school metalheads slowly came to accept this new metal.

Led by band members J.K. (Jeff Keith), Frank Hannon, Tommy Skeoch, Brian Wheat and Troy Luccketta, Tesla had a sound that, looking back, was definitely different than the other bands, and that is what I like about them. Although because of that, I don’t think they were quite as appreciated as the others of the genre.

This album in particular was my favorite of theirs, so when I heard it was going to be released again and on vinyl, I jumped at the chance.

Issued by Geffen Ume, the set has nice weight to it, and the cover art is rendered beautifully; the image is vibrant and shiny, and I can enjoy it without having to strain my eye to see it! The card stock is fairly heavy, which is a good thing because, while this is a 2 album set, it is not a gatefold cover so both albums, consisting of fairly heavy weight vinyl, have to fit into the one opening. I am not a fan of this as, over time, this can cause the spine of the cover to split. However, the jacket is wider, giving more room for the 2 LPs to fit easily into it.

Also included is an album cover sized photo of the band from the Tesla Memorial Society. It’s a nice nostalgic extra to be included. The opposite side had liner notes and the words to “Edison’s Medicine” printed on it, which I thought was odd.

I do like that the Powers That Be made it a 2 album set, instead of a single album with all the songs either compressed onto one disc via thin groove walls or some songs having to be deleted because they couldn’t fit. This means that each side but one of the LPs only has 3 songs on it, and that is okay. In fact, that is better than okay. I prefer it to the latter. Getting to turn the record over or swap it out is one of the tactile joys of spinning records!

Both LPs were clean when I took them out of the sleeves, and the labels perfectly centered. However, the label was creased at the spindle hole. I still gave them a good cleaning with my VPI, as is customary for me, to remove any residual schmutz that could be lurking in the grooves from the pressing.

Before I put the needle down, I was wondering what the records would sound like 25 years removed from a time when good recordings of metal music were not the norm and, to be honest, I think was an afterthought.

Upon listening to the first track, memories of a forgotten segment of my life came flooding back along with the thoughts of, “Boy his voice is a bit screechier than I remember.” But then I forced myself to remember what I wrote earlier: this was metal; and this type of metal, recorded at this time in history, was not recorded to sound good, per se, but to be loud. And once I remembered that and turned it up, so to say, things settled in more balanced.

I found it ironic that in the first song, “Change in the Weather,” the band sings about how they were going to keep the fire burning. As part of the song’s lyrics say:

                  “We’re the children of the 60’s.

                  Watched the 70’s go by.

                  Now, we made it through the 80’s

                  My, my how time does fly.

                  Just around the corner is a brand new century”

Just around the corner is a brand new century!? That was sixteen years ago, and nine years in the future from when this album came out!

The sound was okay; nothing spectacular that would make me want to say the album is better than a CD-- that is until it got to “Man out of Time Edison’s Medicine” and “Don’t De-Rock Me.” On these songs, all of a sudden the drums started to have a more organic feel to them and set themselves nicely at the back of the sound stage. The lead guitar playing was nicely focused, and you could easily tell when each player was playing their instrument as they were placed in the sound stage. In the speakers in my room, that was slightly to the inside of each speaker.

J.K.’s voice didn’t really tone down much, but by the time I got to the second album I was “back in the day,” so to speak, so it “fit.”

The sonics over the whole set ran the gamut from sounding just good to very good, and the vinyl treatment definitely helped the sound over-all. And certainly the louder you play it, the better it sounds and the more you hear. You get a better definition of width and depth with the volume control at 12:00 o’clock instead of 7:00.

I can proudly put this album in amongst its peers in my record library, and I will be playing it more often than some of the others which I have not listened to in many a year.

Geffen UME did a great service to the metal community by releasing this album set. Many things have happened to the band over the years since this record -- success, disbanding, reuniting, personnel changes. But that aside, we can forget all that and pull these records out of their sleeves and go back to this point in time when long hair and loud metal still ruled the day.

Not for the audiophile, but definitely for headbangers old and new. Play it loud and play it proud!

Songs:

LP1

                  Side 1:

  • Change In The Weather

  • Man Out Of Time Edison’s Medicine

  • Don’t De Rock Me

                  Side 2:

  • Call It What You Want

  • Song And Emotion

  • < >

    Government Personnel

LP2

                  Side 1

  • Freedom Slaves

  • Had Enough

  • What You Give

                  Side 2

  • Stir It Up

  • Can’t Stop

  • Toke About it

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0