Bust A Nut


Geffen, 1994


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In general, the popularity life cycle of a band is short. One minute, you’re the hottest ticket on the shelves (and, possibly, the darling of the critics); the next, you’re finding your brand-new release in the bargain bins at Woolworth.

For the California-based hard rock quintet Tesla, their days directly were short. Yes, they had significant hits with tracks like “Love Song” and their acoustic cover of “Signs.” But by the time their third studio album Psychotic Supper came out, the glare was quickly fading. Their fourth studio album, Bust A Nut, might have followed the path of their previous two studio efforts by cracking the top 20 of the Billboard 200, but that was essentially it. No hit singles, no major promotional push from the label… it was as if the disc was essentially dead by the time it hit the shelves.

If anything, this should have given Jeff Keith and crew the opportunity to cut loose creatively and take Tesla’s music into new directions that their die-hard fans would have exclusive access to. As it is, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Bust A Nut is an improvement over Psychotic Supper, but falls into many of the same traps its predecessor did.

If you’re looking for Tesla to break out of the musical style they had championed on their previous releases… well, you’re gonna be disappointed. This is still the same formula, driven by the two-guitar attack of Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, anchored by bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta. As for Keith, the strain on his vocals can begin to be heard on this one; while Keith always had a bit of a hoarseness to his delivery, it starts to become a little more pronounced here.

I’m not saying the performances are bad, or that Tesla should necessarily have tampered with their formula. But if you know that the general public isn’t going to give much of a damn about the same old same old, then one might think it’s not going to kill the goose laying the golden egg to toss formula aside and reach for the ol’ brass ring.

And, after hearing a few efforts like “Try So Hard” and “Action Talks,” one does find they’re wishing for something different. Even with the shouted obscenity on “Action Talks,” these just don’t have the energy to keep the listener interested in the overall picture.

In fact, this is the whole issue with Bust A Nut. While many of the tracks on this disc are enjoyable (“The Gate / Invited,” “Mama’s Fool,” “Wonderful World” being prime examples), one can’t help but thinking they’ve heard all of this before. Granted, the songwriting and delivery have improved a bit over the insipidness of Psychotic Supper, but there’s just not enough to push this one over the edge into pure excitement. (And one has to wonder whether we really needed a cover of Joe South’s “Games People Play” to close out the disc—it’s not a bad rendition, but feels unnecessarily tacked on.)

Tesla wouldn’t grace their fans with another studio effort for the next ten years, as their commercial bright star was quickly fading. Bust A Nut wouldn’t have been the worst thing they could have closed a career out on (and it certainly proved to not be the final statement from Tesla), but it’s also not their strongest effort.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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