Foreigner - Can't Slow Down CD Review (Rhino/Atlantic) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Foreigner - Can't Slow Down CD Review (Rhino/Atlantic)

Foreigner - Can't Slow Down CD ReviewWhen I was a teenager, 70's rock bands like Foreigner, Styx, Van Halen and Aerosmith were staples of FM radio. I haven't actively listened to Foreigner in almost twenty years but those first 3 - 4 albums were such a part of my youth that I still know the words to every song on each of these albums. I lost touch with what Foreigner was doing in the mid-80's as I couldn't get into the keyboard-heavy sound that the band started embracing with Agent Provocateur (1984) and I only heard a bit of Mr. Moonlight (1994) which didn't do much for me. As such, I didn't have high hopes for Foreigner's first new studio album in fifteen years - Can't Slow Down. I'm happy to say that my fears were unfounded - Can't Slow Down is a great AOR album fits right in with the first four Foreigner albums.

Vocalist Kelly Hansen has been fronting Foreigner for four years now and his voice sounds like an edgier, more emotive Lou Graham. Hansen paid his dues in the LA club scene fronting bands like Hurricane (which included Robert Sarzo and Tony Cavazo, younger brothers of Quiet Riot's Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Cavazo). The other musicians in Foreigner include Brian Tichy (who has toured/written with Velvet Revolver, Slash's Snakepit, Billy Idol, etc.), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Dio), Thom Gimbel (Aerosmith, Jon Butcher) and Michael Bluestein (who comes from a jazz background).

The thirteen songs on Can't Slow Down include rockers, power ballads and a remake of "Fool For You Anyway" (which was originally on Foreigner's debut CD). The disc starts out strong with the title track "Can't Slow Down", which was written as a salute to NASCAR in celebration of Foreigner’s appearance at the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Some of the other strong rockers include "Give Me A Sign" and "Too Late" (which appeared on last year's best-of compilation and it is the only cut to feature the now-departed Jason Bonham on drums).

The slower songs are predominately power ballads that (thankfully) don't fall into the schmaltz/syrupy trap that some of the 70's rock have fallen into in recent years. These songs have some "teeth" to them and should keep the lighters in the air during the band's live set. Two of the stronger power ballads are "When It Comes To Love" and "I'll Be Home Tonight".

What really impressed me with this package is that it is a 2CD/1DVD set that retails for $12 at Walmart. Disc 2 contains 10-tracks of Foreigner's greatest hits. This isn't a re-recording of these songs - Anthony Focx (Guitar Hero) and Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith) have remixed the original songs (with Lou Graham on vocals) to give them a bit more edge and punchiness. The last disc is a live DVD that shows the band performing new and classic Foreigner while on tour in Europe earlier this year. What stuck me right away is that Kelly Hansen shows he can seamlessly deliver both the old and new material. Long-time fans may end up saying "Lou who?" over time.

Foreigner are playing some California dates to wind out the year and then are back on the East Coast in January. There aren't any NYC dates scheduled right now but there are some holes in the tour schedule so a New York/New Jersey date would seem likely. Here are the current tour dates:

1/15/10 -- Tampa, FL, Ruth Eckerd Hall
1/16/10 -- Silver Springs, FL, Silver Springs Twin Mansions Theater
1/21/10 -- St. Charles, MO, Bottleneck Blues Bar @ Ameristar Casino St. Charles
1/22/10 -- Paducah, KY, Carson Four Rivers Center
1/23/10 -- French Lick, IN, French Lick Resort Casino
2/18/10 -- Troy, OH, Hobart Arena
2/19/10 -- Rama, Ontario, Casino Rama
2/20/10 -- Rama, Ontario, Casino Rama
2/21/10 -- Kingston, NY, Ulster Performing Arts Center
2/24/10 -- Lancaster, PA, American Music Theatre
2/26/10 -- Harris, MI, Island Resort & Casino
2/27/10 -- Harris, MI, Island Resort & Casino

Foreigner's Website