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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Foreigner - Can't Slow Down CD/DVD review

Foreigner – Can’t Slow Down CD / DVD review (US version - via Walmart)
Released Oct. 2009 (USA) March / April 2010 (Europe)

The history of the band Foreigner is so well documented; they simply do not need any introduction.
The band has produced hit after hit single throughout the years and albums too, not to mention sold out shows everywhere.
So now the band has signed a deal with Walmart to get this latest new material released, here in the US and as with other major names that have done the same thing, the package deal 2 CD’s – 1 of new material and 1 Best of – and a live DVD into the bargain, sold for a very reasonable price indeed.

To be honest, the remixed ‘Best of’ disc included here has possibly little value to fans of the current line up, as it features original vocalist Lou Gramm and I don’t mean that in the derogatory sense either.
If you’re an old fan of the band, chances are you have most of the material that features Gramm here and / or some ‘other’ best of releases no doubt.

So what is really of interest here is the new material and if it comes up to par with previous Foreigner releases?
It seems public consensus says yes, due to the album charting so highly last year on Billboards charts …
So why am I reviewing it now? Well, it only got a full worldwide release, a short time back this year, but already many people have been criticizing this release as being too safe. Is it? Well, yes and no in my books.

I think the opening title track is great, traditional rocking AOR music for most true fans of the band and boy Kelly Hansen – If you hadn’t already heard him. – really can sing Lou Gramm style.
After this though is where the band tend to go for commercial security big time as ‘In Pieces’ next has already proved as being a radio hit for the band. Very laid back pop ballad territory.

When it comes to Love’ next is a song written in the vein of say ‘Waiting for a Girl like You.’ Again it’s very safe.
With ‘Living in a Dream’ it picks up the pace a little, but it’s really not rocking. An up-tempo pop rocker ala Chicago style, even if the guitar solo gives it a little more.
Now don’t get me too far wrong here, as it’s all very well written and produced material, just kind of safe.

I like Foreigner when they bear their teeth a little as they show they can do live.
‘I Can’t Give Up,’ is another ballad territory song almost a little Beatles like even … Or Bryan Adams … Cough!
OK, with next track ‘Ready’ is picking up the pace a little again and trying and is perhaps along the lines of something like ‘Inside Information’ era Foreigner.

‘Give Me a Sign’ also wants to keep the momentum going a little and isn’t so bad in pop rock terms, but …
It really would’ve been great to have a new Foreigner album with more rockers and perhaps just one or two ballads, but it’s really showing itself to be at best a more pop rock album as opposed to AOR / melodic rock.
Surely the biggest power type ballad here is next track, ‘I’ll Be Home Tonight.’
Rich multi layered sound and a strong power ballad for sure.

‘Too Late’ next is almost a little funky sub-pop rocker, kind of reminded me a little of Billy Joel’s Moving Out.
An offbeat start to next track ‘Lonely’ before the pre-chorus, then chorus is more direct. Interesting mid-paced track.

‘As Long as I Live,’ starts laid back then picks up, only a little for the chorus … Is it me or does this sound a little like 3 Doors Down or am I the only hearing this?! I do like it though.
In ‘Angel Tonight’ it sounds a little more like classic Foreigner, stomp along mid-paced pop rocker.
Good one.

A re-recorded version of ‘Fool For You Anyway,’ originally on Foreigner’s first album seems perhaps a little more laid back, almost Motown like if I was honest about it.
As I mentioned before, the second CD is a ‘remixed’ 10 track ‘Best Of’ which gives a little sheen to the old tracks, but really nothing too much more there. Still, a nice freebie if you look at it that way!

The DVD now, I have to say I really like. It’s Foreigner in a live setting playing through some of their more rock driven numbers although sadly only 10 tracks again – Why do Walmart limit these sets on the DVD?! – but opening with classic ‘Double Vision’ as the band took their show through Europe.
‘Head Games’ keeps things going in the rock vein too. Some backstage footage then back to the show.

The band ease into ‘That Was Yesterday’ with a very different intro and ‘Say You Will’ performed in acoustic / unplugged style here.
‘Starrider’ is stretched to the max, to allow Mick Jones some self indulgence, before they kick into ‘Feels Like The First Time.’ Great stuff!

This is the second live DVD I’ve seen now of Foreigner and Kelly Hansen fronting the band, the first time was ‘Alive and Rockin’,’ and Hansen can certainly handle Lou Gramm’s vocals to a tee! He also has the swagger not unlike that of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler! As a frontman, he’s like a duck to water!

Have to say, ‘Urgent’ next is one of my favourite Foreigner live tracks and Tom Gimble sax playing is great, what a talent the guy is. Is there anything he can’t play?!
‘Juke Box Hero,’ continues to please the crowd, before the big ballad ‘I Want To Know What Love Is.’
The live set – on the DVD – is closed here with ‘Hot Blooded,’ rocking ‘til the end.

Some great bonus footage too here, fans should love as Mick Jones reminisces some. You’ll see what I mean!
A good all round package for the money, even if the new material doesn’t all rock. Should be something here for everyone.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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