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Cherry Pop

Title - 'Alive & Rockin' (Eagle Rock)
Artist - Foreigner

Since its inception, Foreigner has been led by English musician Mick Jones (ex-Spooky Tooth) who, in early 1976, met with ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald and formed Foreigner with Lou Gramm (ex-Black Sheep), Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, and Ed Gagliardi as a sextet. Jones came up with the name from the fact that no matter what country they were in, three would be foreigners, because he, McDonald, and Elliott were English, while Gramm, Greenwood, and Gagliardi were Americans!

Cut to some 35 years later and after having sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, Jones is the last surviving original member of Foreigner. But that fact hasn't stopped them touring or releasing new albums through the years. With a line-up that now features the late John Bonham's son Jason on drums, percussion and backing vocals, Thom Gimbel (guitar, saxophone, flute, backing vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass, backing vocals), Jeff Jacobs (keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals), and the Steven Tyleresque Kelly Hansen on lead vocals since 2005, this CD (and subsequent DVD) was recorded at the Bang Your Head Festival at Balingen in Germany in June 2006.

The CD kicks off with an extended instrumental intro before Hansen walks (nay, struts on) and launches into 'Double Vision.' After thanking the audience, they then continue the old school hits with both 'Head Games' and 'Dirty White Boy.' In truth, Hansen seems to be shouting his way through the former song, the melody of the latter more to the fore.

With a live album that consists of only back-in-the-day hits and chart (yet fan favorite) misses, the band progress ever onwards with trippy, if not lacklustre 'Starrider,' which they back up with the formidable 'Feels Like The First Time.' Hansen once again thanx for the crowd, before an altered intro to 'Urgent' is played. Obviously confusing the crowd into thinking it might be a new tune, or a deep, deep cut, once it is revealed in all its extended sax solo glory they go wild.

In truth, this whole live CD is rather bland with regard what the band have done in the past, and what they have since done live (I've seen them with and without Hansen many times). Perhaps it was down to the fact that Hansen had just joined the band and these were the first live dates he'd test driven his "Foreigner" vocals? Maybe he was nervous, in general? Either way, there is no audience communication between any of the songs, no real euphoric musical passion, and that is a shame. Regardless, the drum solo-intro'd powerhaus 'Juke Box Hero' (complete with a 'Whole Lotta Love' midsection) is next, and an extended 'Hot Blooded' rounds off the entire show.

www.foreigneronline.com





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