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Music Review: Foreigner – Can’t Slow Down

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Foreigner was formed in 1977 around guitarist Mick Jones and vocalist Lou Gramm. They were an immediate success as their first four album releases sold a combined 23 million copies. Hit songs such as “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” and “I Want To Know What Love Is” are still instantly recognizable and continue to receive airplay.

Can’t Slow Down is the first new Foreigner studio album in fifteen years. Mick Jones is now joined by vocalist Kelly Hansen, guitarist Thom Gimbel, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, bassist Jeff Pilson, and drummer Brian Tichy. Hansen is an excellent vocalist and easily replaces Gramm while the rest are professional and competent.

As I listen to the thirteen new songs I find that as a whole they represent a very good and ultimately satisfying collection that should please Foreigner's old fans and maybe win them a few new ones. It is a typical Foreigner mixture of ballads and hard rock. The tracks are all written or co-written by Jones, Hansen and producer Marti Frederiksen and are well constructed. It all adds up to a very satisfying comeback by one of the most popular bands of the 1980’s.

Can’t Slow Down, however,  is more than just a new studio album as there are two bonus discs which make it a career spanning release.

Disc two is titled “The Remixes” as ten of their classic tracks are presented in remastered form. I was surprised to find that they all were the Lou Gramm vocal versions, but as such they represent some of the best of the seventies and eighties. The best part is the clarity of the songs which is superior to anything I have heard in the past. There is nothing new here but certainly a welcome upgrade in sound quality.

Disc 3 is a live DVD from their recent European tour. It shows that the current line-up can be extremely effective and entertaining. Mick Jones may have aged but he can still play the guitar. “Double Vision” and “Head Games” get the disc off to a rousing start. “That Was Yesterday,” with Jones on piano, allows Hansen to shine vocally on this building power ballad. The best performance may be an acoustic performance of “Say You Will” complete with wonderful harmonies.

Can’t Slow Down is a satisfying blend of the old, the new, and the live. It not only contains a lot of music, it contains a lot of good music.

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