Foreigner: Can't Slow Down
The first Foreigner release in 15 years comes by way of Wal-Mart only (just like the recent KISS, Journey, AC/DC, and Eagles releases), a 3-disc set comprised of the new studio album Can't Slow Down, a second CD of remixed classics, and a live DVD from their recent tour of Europe. As an overall great value, Can't Slow Down is hard to beat, especially for longtime fans of the band. Sure, guitarist Mick Jones is the only original member left, but just like Journey did with the hiring of Arnel Pineda, Foreigner have put into the vocal slot one Kelly Hansen (ex-Hurricane), who sounds remarkably like original Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm and helps keep alive the band's classic sound.
The opening title track is a catchy hard rock number that will remind you of the band's classic 70's material, the guitars of Jones and Tom Gimbel crisp and heavy, while Hansen's vocals soar through the heavens. "In Pieces" and "When it Comes to Love" are melodic rock ballads that could have easily sat in among Foreigner's mid-late 80's chart busting albums. The gritty rocker "Living in a Dream" features some great hooks and powerful drum work from the always capable Brian Tichy, "I Can't Give Up" is an emotional ballad, and "Ready" almost sounds like Cheap Trick in spots, a catchy pop rocker that is quite upbeat and addicting, with some great bass grooves from the former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson. Those familiar Foreigner hooks are all over the funky-pop-rock of "Give Me a Sign" (love those horn arrangements), and the crunchy hard rock riffs on the engaging "Too Late" will make you wonder why they didn't put more rockers of this type on this album. I mean, the ballads are extemely well done ("Lonely", "As Long As I Live", and "I'll Be Home Tonight" all could have hit potential), but it's the catchy rockers like "Angel Tonight", with irresistable hooks, crunchy riffage, walls of keyboards, and tight grooves that really make this album, or any Foreigner album for that matter.
The CD filled with remixed classics is pretty self-explanatory, so what you basically get are some vintage songs sung by Gramm, cleaned up a bit for 2009. They sound as great as ever, and become a welcome reminder of just how many great songs this band has recorded over the years. On the live DVD from Europe, you actually get to hear Hansen and the current incarnation of the band crank out many of those songs, and they do a fantastic job. If you close your eyes, you'll swear it was Mick, Lou, and the boys circa 1982. The guitars are cranked up, the drums are crashing, the melodies are soaring, the keyboards and swirling, and Hansen is completely shining. This guy has the goods folks.
I know Can't Slow Down might not have a lot to satisfy our most picky prog and metal listeners, but if you have a soft spot for the Foreigner of old, and like well done melodic hard rock & pop, this latest release from the latest version of Foreigner will be a welcome addition to your current CD rotation.
1. Can't Slow Down
2. In Pieces
3. When It Comes To Love
4. Living In A Dream
5. I Can't Give Up
7. Give Me A Sign
8. I'll Be Home Tonight
9. Too Late
11. As Long As I Live
12. Angel Tonight
13. Fool For You Anyway
1. Feels Like The First Time
2. Cold As Ice
3. Hot Blooded
4. Blue Morning Blue Day
5. Double Vision
6. Dirty White Boy
7. Head Games
8. Juke Box Hero
10. I Want To Know What Love Is
1. Double Vision (DVD)
2. Head Games (DVD)
3. That Was Yesterday (DVD)
4. Say You Will (DVD)
5. Starrider (DVD)
6. Feels Like The First Time (DVD)
7. Urgent (DVD)
8. Juke Box Hero (DVD)
9. I Want To Know What Love Is (DVD)
10. Hot Blooded (DVD)
Added: October 27th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Rhino Records
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|Foreigner: Can't Slow Down
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-29 14:55:24
Foreigner is one of the great ones when it comes to powerful and memorable radio friendly Rock music and their sound comes from a time when the term was not as insulting as it can be today. Let's face it, in today's music scene, "radio friendly" is often stuff that will bore you to tears. In their original heyday, the bands fans were able to find Foreigner music played as part of the regular rotation on any of the numerous Rock radio stations that held dominance on the dial. As a result of this initial grip, the bands music has become a respected part of music history and it is well deserved. If you are like me, there has to be at least five tunes by the band that you love to hear and can probably sing a chorus and a couple of verses from. Over the years the lineup has changed and now features only Mick Jones as the original founding member and he is joined by a talented bunch of musicians that feature Jeff Pilson on bass (formerly of Dokken), Kelly Hansen on vocals (formerly of Hurricane), Tom Gimbel, Brian Tichy and Michael Bluestein who round it out on guitars, drums and keyboards. Together they follow a tradition that seemed to be started by Journey last year as they deliver new music that also features a second CD of remixed classics and a live DVD that features a concert and bonus features. With so many parts to absorb I dissected them one by one and offer comments on each.
CD1: "Can't Slow Down" – Looking back on the bands "classic material" it is very hard for me to gauge whether or not these particular new songs will be as well received and withstand the tests of time. Their just too new for that decision to be made. The other issue is the fact that they are delivered by a new singer and some fans might not want to support the group any longer without Lou Gramm. I have learned this to be the case with Journey and like I said to those fans, it is your loss. I am one of those music fans who realizes that things change whether I like them to or not. This is the first official full recording with Kelly Hansen who is a great vocalist and has done good even before he joined Foreigner. I had to admit that I was happy to find him being a part of the lineup and together with founder Mick Jones and company have successfully delivered an album that is strong as a listen. The material seems to work well within the confines that have been established by the classics and some of the highlights are the title track, "I Can't Give Up", and "Ready". I found myself able to get through the whole release without finding myself bored and I think that their legacy fans should give it a chance if they are choosing to approach it with a cautionary ear. It's certainly not disappointing in terms of well thought out Hard Rock music and does their catalog history proud. It's musically sound and has some nice hooks and choruses that I think over time will be referred to by fans as additional favorites from the bands expansive repertoire.
CD2: "Remixes" – "Feels Like The First Time", "Cold As Ice", "Hot Blooded", Blue Morning, Blue Day", "Double Vision", "Dirty White Boy", Head Games", "Juke Box Hero", "Urgent", & "I Want To Know What Love Is".
*** When I learned about the CD of "classics" being included I had thought that the same steps taken by Journey were done once more and that the band had re-recorded these tunes with the current lineup. To be honest that would have been great when one considers that this is the lineup that people will see performing them going forward. Instead these tunes are remixed by producer Marti Frederickson and Don Cocx and they do a great job of cleaning up the original production on these amazing tunes. The listener will totally let this one run through without skipping around that is for sure. If you own the bands "Records" greatest hits release from a number of years ago, I can tell you that this particular CD has eight of the ten tunes from that record. It is a collection that follows last years "No End In Sight" which was a double disc affair that took us from the bands very beginnings to the most recent times. Pick that release up as well, it comes from Rhino Entertainment also and gives you a very healthy batch of liner notes history (an item that this release is lacking in).
DVD: "Double Vision", "Head Games", "That Was Yesterday", "Say You Will", Starrider", Feels Like The First Time", "Urgent", "Juke Box Hero", I Want To Know What Love Is", "Hot Blooded".
*** Starting off with a rousing ten song concert performance the DVD that comes with the new Foreigner release does not disappoint at all. It's also a great way to get to see just how good the current incarnation of the band is on the stage and believe me when I say it that they will have you on your feet with the music and definitely singing along. I was interested in this part of the release very much because even though the band had just released a full-concert film on Eagle Vision, the lineup was slightly different and found Jason Bonham on the drums where this show presents Brian Tichy. The set list features many of the expected hits and a couple of surprises and as you watch guitarist Mick Jones and the smile he maintains throughout the gig, you can only assume that he is content with the players that he had asked to join the Foreigner family. I liked the live set enough to find myself interested in catching them in concert and even more than ever before since I had never been able to do so in the past. There are great angles in the video and the band is clearly energetic and having a grand time playing together. Fans can also enjoy some behind the scenes footage, which I have to admit is stuff that no longer really appeals to me unless it is one of my very favorite bands. I just don't have the patience for it anymore but I think that long time Foreigner fans will appreciate having a little more to watch after the concert.
The release will come available exclusively through Wal-Mart and that follows what has been happening from bands like Journey, The Eagles, ACDC and next KISS. I felt for the amount of music and video that made this one up that it's a fair investment and its nice to see the group continuing on and proving capable of delivering catchy Rock music. It's just what we needed – thanks guys.
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