Alive and Rockin' (2007)

1. Double Vision 2. Head Games 3. Dirty White Boy 4. Cold As Ice 5. Starrider 6. Feels Like the First Time 7. Urgent 8. Jukebox Hero/Whole Lotta Love 9. Hot Blooded


First off, let me say how annoyed I get every time I hear a critic or reviewer claim that new lead singer Kelly Hanson sounds "exactly like" Lou Gramm. Maybe I listen to too much music, but I don't think the new guy sounds that similar to his predecessor. Yes, there are similarities, but, for me, nothing that has the name "Foreigner" stamped on it, will never sound as good as the original brand.

Having gotten that minor gripe out of the way, I must confess that this is a great album. I never expected it to be. I normally don't like it when bands try to recapture their glory days by recruiting a bunch of replacement players after the original members left for whatever reason. This band is always high on my list because only one guy (guitarist Mick Jones) remains from the original lineup. There was even a span of several months during the last few years when he was even absent from the lineup for medical reasons. So things like this tend to keep me from spending a lot of hard earned dollars to see only remnants of a group that I fondly remember from yesteryear.

The thing that makes this album great is its energy. This seemed to be the one area where Foreigner lacked in its glory days. Whenever they toured, they always played their hits (which were numerous), but they seemed to be going through the motions. It seemed like a studio cut that lasts 3:30 on vinyl would last 3:40 at a show. The shows were not really that memorable. Whether or not it's the new singer (or any of the new members) or not, this album definitely has high energy and sounds like a live album should.

At first glance, one notices only nine cuts. That in itself might seem like a gyp, but the album is almost 60 minutes long - meaning the nine songs are much more meatier. They never feel weighted down. Especially memorable is the 13 minute version of Jukebox Hero which includes a good portion of Led Zepplin's Whole Lotta Love thrown in. The majority of the tracks are hits - the one curious exception is Starrider from the band's first album. That song seems to be a staple in latter day set lists. The only reason that I can think of as to why they include it is because it's one of the few songs where Mick Jones sings lead. Since he's the only original Foreigner, why not give him the spotlight at some part of the show? One kind of wishes that it was left off and replaced with a better known track.

All other tracks are well known, and none disappoint. They keep the syrupy ballads off, and that is neither really good nor bad. It's probably a bit advantageous as it keeps the overall energy on a fairly even keel. Unlike their last live album (their only one - Classics Live), they wisely add Hot Blooded.

If you're a skeptic like me and aren't attracted to records like this because they aren't "pure" enough, or whatever, give this one a try and keep an open mind. You really will be surprised.

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