Friday, January 17, 2014

FOREIGNER: 'I Want To Know What Love Is - The Ballads'

Rating: Comp.
Label: earMUSIC 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

'Gotta take a little time. A little time to think things over. I better read between the lines in case I need it when I'm older'. Just in time for Valentine's Day earMUSIC releases 'I Want To Know What Love Is - The Ballads', 14 tracks previously never released on one album of FOREIGNER's best and most timeless ballads. Not sure about the never before bit though. First came the 'Acoustique' album and what about, 'Classics', which also featured "new" vocalist Kelly Hansen of Hurricane and Unruly Child fame. Mick Jones, the only Survivor since the original Journey of Foreigner and we're hardly in Kansas anymore, Toto (ouch! lame-o).

Nonetheless. It's the new compilation album with studio versions of 'I Want To Know What Love Is', 'In Pieces', 'Waiting For a Girl Like You' etc. The acoustic versions of, 'Feels Like The First Time', 'Double Vision' and 'Say You Will', where especially the latter might just need those sweet keys of the 80s to become the proper classic? Don't get me wrong, it's a nice version, but nothing beats the originals, huh? It's nice to hear Foreigner's recording of 'The Flame Still Burn', co-written by Mick Jones for the 1998 U.K. cult movie, 'Still Crazy', where it was performed by 'Strange Fruit' and Jimmy Nail. I enjoy it more than any other 'spoof' rock movie out there including Spinal Tap and Jones won the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for that song. Hansen sings his heart out and it's just a darn classic moment of 'lighters in the air'. Sigh. It's just not the same with nokias (feel free to switch to your brand of choice).

Hansen, clearly at his best on modern tracks like, 'When It Comes to Love', 'In Pieces', 'I Can't Give Up' (excellent), but also, 'Waiting For a Girl Like You' and 'Feels Like The First Time'. It's always difficult to compare and match Lou Gramm, but Hansen's really good on these tracks. The title track is especially hard to come around and accept if you're aware of the original. I know that many people say 'I Want To Know What Love Is' (the song) - too pompous, too cheesy, too sappy. Would all the slow songs really be better than they currently are if they included a backing gospel choir? No. Of course not. It's 80s commercial to the extreme and you know it's f***ed up if Mariah Carey decides to cover your tune. Well... okay. I do enjoy her 'Hero' song.

However. I'm not shy to admit that I enjoy it quite a lot. At least as long as I get my dose of Prog, Punk, Pop, Art-Rock, Indie, New Wave, Electronica, Metal, R&B/Soul, etc. etc. Why judge music by genre or style? A good song is a good song is a good song. Could I listen only to Foreigner? No. But that goes for each and every artist/band really. I need to dark, the gloomy, the easy listening, the uplifting, the fun, the complex, the... you get the picture. Each style and genre (with the exception of Black Metal and Modern Rap and ditto Country in my own personal opinion) have great songs and great bands to offer. Do NOT let the 'Music Police' and internet tell you what you can/should and can't/shouldn't listen to. Ten multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits speaks louder than any posh besserwisser. Do you really need this comp if you're already the long time fan? The bonus edition with more acoustic songs might give value and now you also know what to give as Valentine gift?

The Ballads will be released in Europe on Monday February 3rd, 2014 in two different editions: as a standard jewel case, and 2CD Special Edition-digipak. Produced by bass guitarist, Jeff Pilson (ex- Dokken), in December 2013, the bonus disc contains previously unreleased performances of all the hits and fan favourites, recorded from an acoustic show for the German radio station SWR1 in July 2013. The band head out on Tour with special guests EUROPE and FM, which kicks off on April 3rd at the Manchester o2 Apollo. All together now, 'In my life there's been heartache and pain'...
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