Tesla was largely responsible for starting the unplugged acoustic format's surge of popularity in the early 1990s, but the hard rock quintet from Sacramento, CA, isn't often given proper credit. Vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist/pianist Brian Wheat, and drummer Troy Luccketta recorded an acoustic set of originals and covers on July 2, 1990, at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, PA. A January 20, 1990, performance on the syndicated radio show Rockline started them on their acoustic path. This continued at the Bay Area Music Awards and, by that summer, Tesla went on tour with Motley Crue and filled open dates with a handful of acoustic club shows, including the Trocadero. They originally recorded and filmed the Trocadero show for the band's own archives; it wasn't intended to be released commercially. That all changed when a Boston radio station began playing an acoustic version of the Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs," that Tesla performed during a studio visit, and was flooded with positive feedback. Geffen Records wanted Tesla to release the Trocadero performance, but with overdubs to clean up some things. The band refused and the Five Man Acoustical Jam album was released in its original, unaltered form and became a huge hit. This is the filmed version. Tesla is very loose during the 75-minute performance, and the quintet is obviously having fun mixing terrific originals like "Modern Day Cowboy," "Love Song" "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)," and "The Way it Is" with, in addition to "Signs," covers of the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'," the Beatles' "We Can Work it Out," Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lodi," and the Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper." Two new songs -- jams really -- are included: "Tommy's Down Home" and "Down Fo' Boogie." Five Man Video Band captures the spirit and joy of a pure rock & roll band reveling in its own music and that of its influences. This video was reissued on DVD in 2002.
AllMusic Review by Bret Adams