|Foreigner - 'Can't Slow Down' (earMUSIC)|
|Written by Russ P|
|Monday, 01 March 2010 08:00|
Whatever happened to Foreigner? It's been 23 years since Foreigner's last great album 1987's 'Inside Information'.
After that Foreigner just seemed to stall. Singer Lou Gramm left the band, and they recruited Johnny Edwards as a replacement for 'Unusual Heat'. Which, while not totally disastrous, just wasn't the quality Foreigner we know and expect.
To counter the commercial failure of this album Lou Gramm returned to the fold only to record something much worse. 'Mr Moonlight' was a pasty ballad-centric album more at home in the late 80s than the mid-90s.
The fire finally went out and Foreigner was over and done with. That is until now.
Album opener 'Can't Slow Down' is an immediate shock when you hear it. It doesn't make any sense at all - this sounds like Foreigner at their prime. Mick Jones' guitar work is unmistakable from the off and I'm hurled back to my favourite Foreigner era, and 1981's stonewall classic '4' album. Foreigner, at their multi-platinum selling best, were known for making every song count, they'd never heard of the phrase album-filler, and this album is no exception to their own unforgiving rule. I just can't pick out any songs for special attention. They're all equally deserving.
Any closet AOR-ophiles afraid to come out of the closet should step forward, come into the light. There's nothing to be ashamed of. There's a supreme confidence and freshness that oozes out of the songs and dispels any feelings of embarrassment you might be experiencing (I've said too much haven't I?).
'As Long As I Live' has a pleasing Duran Duran 'Ordinary World' quality to it. 'Too Late' has a bounce that tips its hat to the band's earlier hit 'Cold As Ice' and 'I'll Be Home Tonight' has a scarf waving compulsion embedded in it. After this album is over I must remember to flick the British Reserve / Stiff Upper Lip switch to ON.
New vocalist Kelly Hansen more than proves himself the perfect replacement for Lou Gramm. It's uncanny. He sounds enough like Gramm so that you don't miss the band's iconic singer, yet he's no clone either. 'When I'm Ready' and 'Lonely' has him sounding more like Robin Zander than Gramm. Yet Hansen remains something uniquely in between.
What was I saying about Foreigner being a no-filler band? They keep going full tilt right up until the album's end finishing off with one of their best songs, 'Fool For You Anyway', which has co-producer Mark Ronson's signature retro sound all over it, and I can assure you that's a good thing. It may be a departure from the rest of the album but it's only a slight detour. It's classic soul, shaken but not stirred, with a bit of Bowie's 'Sound And Vision' thrown in. 'Give Me A Sign' also has a smattering of this sound, and it's a sound that I'd like to hear more of. I could well imagine Foreigner doing something a little left field and going headlong into this arena and making an entire album.
My interest is revived. Now let's have another Foreigner/Frederiksen/Ronson collaboration. And sometime soon eh?