Can't Slow Down (2009)


  
1. Can't Slow Down 2. In Pieces 3. When It Comes to Love 4. Living in a Dream 5. I Can't Give Up 6. Ready 7. Give Me a Sign 8. I'll Be Home Tonight 9. Too Late 10.Lonely 11.As Long as I Live 12.Angel Tonight 13.Fool For You Anyway

 

Had I not known that this was a Foreigner album the first time I heard it, I would have said something like - "This band kind of sounds like Foreigner!" Key words - "kind of". First, it must be stated that Lou Gramm is again gone from the band. This was his second exodus. Apparently tensions were still too high with guitarist and "leader" Mick Jones. Foreigner is one of those bands that changed lineups so frequently, especially during their later days, that it's pointless to worry, or even notate, who was or was not in the band anymore - apart from Mick Jones and/or Lou Gramm.

However, since Gramm's spot requires some pretty big shoes to fill, it's worth it to mention the new front man, former Hurricane (who?) singer, Kelly Hanson. Is Kelly as good as Lou? Does he sound like Lou? Well, short answer to both: no. He does however do the job better than probably anybody else on the planet, and the history of rock and roll tells us that it's darn near impossible to perfectly replicate a popular lead singer. Unlike Lou Gramm's first replacement from 1991, Johnny Edwards, Hanson is now joining a band that seems determined to replicate the classic Foreigner sound that sold so many records. Back in 1991, you almost got the impression that the band was trying to reinvent themselves, yet they ended up sounding like an awful Bad Company cover band. So any issues with this record are not due to Kelly Hanson.

The problem that I have with this record, is that the Foreigner sound has lost its punch. This is not a forceful, nor aggressive guitar driven album. Think of some of the best known Foreigner songs (other than the ballads). Songs like Feels Like the First Time, Urgent, and Hot Blooded are good examples. It's impossible to hear those songs in your head without hearing Mick Jones' loud, screeching, yet melodious electric guitar grinding out memorable riffs. Those songs were powerful. All that is missing here. It seems as though Jones' guitar is too buried in the mix for it to have any impact.

That's really a shame since this album does have a lot of catchy songs and they definitely feature the Foreigner vibe that fans know so well. Listening to this album can even almost be a bit frustrating since your imagination tends to wander and imagine just how good this album could have been had they put a bit more punch behind the recordings. Maybe the songs sounded better live, but let's face it, other than a tour that might have occurred around this release, I seriously doubt the band would feature much from this album several years after the fact. No, Foreigner would basically become a "hits only" retrospective group.

Several years after this album came out, the band made a (stupid) decision to record many of their old classics with this new lineup. What would have been a better experiment, would be if they would have redone this album - make it heavier, more guitar focused, perhaps call in Mutt Lange, and maybe, just maybe call in Lou Gramm to add some muscle and some decibels, you quite possibly could have had a brilliant album.

They do redo one old Foreigner song on this record - 1977's The Damage is Done. That was a song that was never that popular, but did have a good melody, and was a good "also-ran". The fact that they include a remake here compounds the irony. This album basically sounds like an entire record of songs like The Damage Is Done. Good. Maybe even very good in places. But far from spectacular, and far from what this band was capable of many moons ago.

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