For example, ZZ Top's "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" doesn't sound so drastically different than the waters Tesla typically treads, but some of the fun to be had in listening to this one is hearing Jeff Keith mimic the effect of having two similar-voiced singers handling vocals. And "Shooting Star" could have been a disaster in lesser hands. Bad Company's Paul Rodgers is blessed with a unique voice that is powerful, yet not showy in a ridiculous way, and few singers seem to be able to handle that subtle combination. But Jeff Keith manages to pull it off - his signature rasp is mellowed here. And that's the case with all the songs. Keith and the band do these classics justice not because they try to adapt them to their own sound but because the reverence they feel toward the songs is evident in every one of the songs. What we listeners get is the rare covers album that actually does feel like the band was influenced by the music they chose, rather than what usually happens - the band picks songs that they think will score them points for the cool factor of their choices, or they choose songs that are so common that they say nothing.
Taken as a whole, Real to Reel says a lot - and it is so enjoyable that it may be all many listeners need from Tesla (I will, however, disagree and say that debut album Mechanical Resonance and sadly overlooked Bust a Nut are must-haves as well.) What's more, the band saved the best for last - Real to Reel 2 is actually stronger than the first disc in the set. That's not to slight Real to Reel 1. Fans of the band and fans of classic rock alike owe themselves to invest in both - it might just be some of the most fun listening we've gotten all year. How often can you say that - especially about a covers album?