CD Reviews

Foreigner - 'Can't Slow Down' Hot

Added by James Gaden     March 17, 2010    
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Stunning comeback album from the legendary multi platinum sellers.


It’s been a long time since Foreigner’s last album ‘Mr Moonlight’, an excellent but pretty much ignored record from 1994. Since then the band has been completely revamped, with only Mick Jones from the original band surviving. The future didn’t look too bright for a new Foreigner record until you saw this new version in action, playing the classic songs with gusto, a sense of fun and more importantly, a real feeling of authenticity. Kelly Hansen proved to be a great choice of lead vocalist, someone who managed to perform pretty much any Foreigner song convincingly without being trapped in Lou Gramm’s shadow.

Another line-up change took place before the new album was made as famed drummer Jason Bonham quit to be replaced by journeyman Brian Tichy. Completing the new line up were Michael Bluestein on keys, long time Foreigner side man Thom Gimball on saxophone and guitar, and of course Mick Jones on lead guitar and keys. Suddenly, after what I witnessed on tour, maybe a new album would turn out to be quite good after all.

As it stands, I don’t think ‘quite good’ comes anywhere near accurately describing ‘Can’t Slow Down’, an album of thirteen truly excellent songs. I’ll be perfectly honest, I thought they’d probably limp back onto the scene with an album of ballads or mid paced, well crafted but ultimately uninspiring songs, much like Survivor did with ‘Reach’ not so long back. But ‘Can’t Slow Down’ offers a good mix. The title track itself and ‘Ready’ are both great rockers, ‘Angel Tonight’ and ‘Give Me A Sign’ are both upbeat with great choruses that make you want to hear them again and again, and there are some excellent ballads too in the form of ‘When It Comes To Love’, ‘I’ll Be Home Tonight’ and ‘As Long As I Live’. I really do love every song on this record, from the familiar ‘Too Late’ (which was released first on the ‘No End In Sight’ compilation) to the quirky ‘Lonely’, through to the hook laden ‘Living In A Dream’ which I would like to sing along to, but can’t get anywhere near it, vocally.

Kelly sounds tremendous on this record, and the touring with him paid off because I don’t think of this as his first Foreigner studio effort, he’s just Foreigner’s singer to my ears, and he is superb on this album. There’s a definite Foreigner sound on the album, without it trying to hard to fit in with what went before. It’s a new beginning for a a great band, it’s a great first effort for the new line-up, and it has enough familiarity to please old fans too.

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One little treat is a new version of ‘Fool For You Anyway’, which was on the very first Foreigner album. This re-working is produced by Mark Ronson, famed for his work with Amy Winehouse among others, and the combination of his production and Kelly’s interpretation makes for a more soulful outing than the original for me. It’s a great way to end a great record.

If you liked Foreigner I see no reason why this wouldn’t continue to please you. Better still, the album is available in a variety of formats, including a special edition deluxe three disk version. Disk one is the brand new album, disk two offers you the new lineup tearing through the classic Foreigner standards (with Jason Bonham on drums so you even get a bit of 'Whole Lotta Love' thrown in) and disk three is a live DVD so you can see the new band in action. All the classics are there, plus their amazing acoustic ‘Say You Will’, which is worth the purchase price alone. The DVD portion also offers band interviews filmed in Berlin 2009, behind the scenes footage, and making of the album, plus new promo videos for 'Can’t Slow Down', 'When it Comes to Love' and 'Too Late'.

It would be a good deal even if the new album was crap, but for me it was so much better than I expected and it just grew and grew on me until I loved every note - to have those other two disks made it even better. There is of course a standard CD version or vinyl of the new album if you don't want the extras, but I'd advise the three disk set all the way. This may be a controversial statement but I thought it was the best album of 2009 (because I got it on release from the US, making it a 2009 release for my list), and I thought it knocked Chickenfoot from it’s perch. I didn’t expect it to be as good as this but I’m so delighted it is.

James Gaden


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