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FOREIGNER Acoustique And More earMUSIC (2011)


Now before you think I have a thing against Foreigner, you should know that I thought their gig with Journey this summer was one of the live highlights of 2011. A colossal performance from a colossal band.

'Acoustique', perhaps more specifically the expanded 'Acoustique & More', has a whiff of cash-in and cash cow. Whilst some punters will be content with the standard version - a set of their classics in stripped down format plus the two new tracks - others will be attracted by the three disc offering simply on a value for money basis.

This is almost a replica of the band's 2009 comeback album 'Can't Slow Down' - albeit now on a different label. The bonus CD is a re-recording of their classic hits (the previous disc was a remixed version of the originals) and the DVD is a greatest hits-fuelled gig from this year. Similarly the previous DVD bonus was almost identical track by track and - not forgetting - the band have also released a fully blown DVD 'Rockin At the Ryman' this year. I mean, how many different versions of 'Juke Box Hero' does a person need?

What I can't understand is why any punter would really want the re-recordings in their collection. To the band's credit they are authentic recreations, so authentic that it sometimes sounds like they could have used original backing tracks. But why do this? All we need now are the Steven Wilson 5.1 remixes and the job will be complete.

As if to add to the incredulity around this release, even when we are treated to a bit of purposeful Mick Jones guitaring at the end of 'Head Games' (a deviation from the original) the track...fades.

True Foreigner aficionados may be drawn in by the two new songs on offer, 'The Flame Still Burns' and 'Save Me' but to these ears they are perfunctory workouts rather than must-haves.

This package does show how Kelly Hansen has fully adapted to his role, and the Lou Gramm/Mick Jones songbook, and he sustains a fine vocal performance throughout. It's a pity though that the band didn't include more the songs from the excellent current album in any of these performances with the exception of 'Fool For You Anyway' (and 'When It Comes To Love' on the DVD) and even 'Say You Will' on the acoustic set was previewed in acoustic format on the earlier 'No End In Sight' (2008) - yet another recent compilation.

If this constant recycling is part of the Foreigner re-purposing process so be it but, for a band that has reinvented itself in recent years and in the absence of new material, even an album of cover versions may have been preferable to this persistent re-working of familiar tunes.


Review by David Randall

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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