Five Man Acoustical Jam

Band: Tesla
Album: Five Man Acoustical Jam
Best song: No idea. I guess “We Can Work It Out” isn’t a total disaster, but it’s pretty bad. “Signs” was a hit, for what that’s worth.
Worst song: Gah. This album is a mess.

Technically, this isn’t an album that I own, but rather an album that I borrowed. Thanks to the good folks at the Prince George’s County Library System, I took Five Man Acoustical Jam out from the library, largely on the success of the band’s minor success in its cover of “Signs.” So, let’s be clear: I don’t own this album.

Indeed, Five Man Acoustical Jam features four covers: “Signs,” the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out,” the Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi.” “Lodi” fits because Tesla shares a regional origin with CCR; both bands are from Northern California.

“Signs” is the overwhelming thing to remember from the record. Everyone knows the chorus, but the verses from the song are terrfyingly shitty. Released in 1971 by the Five Man Electrical Band, here’s verse no. 1:

And the sign says “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
So I put my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said you look like a fine outstanding young man, I think you’ll do
So I took off my hat, I said “Imagine that, huh, me working for you.”

You have got to be fucking kidding me. That sounds like it was written by someone who writes scripts for porno (The secretary! She’s not pretty! Then she takes off her glasses! Bang! Hot!). And we’re supposed to think that “long-haired freaky” is some sort of descriptor? Jesus.

It gets worse from there, with the lyrics covering the sign “Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight,” with Tesla trying to bloviate about God being unhappy with that, all the way to the collection plate at a church. What a hot, steaming mess.

Conclusion: “Signs” is a crappy song. Do not enter.

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    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

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