Foreigner

Alive & Rockin' [Video]

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Foreigner's Alive & Rockin' DVD is a slick presentation from Eagle Vision that features eight of the group's 16 hits, a classic track -- "Starrider" -- from the first album, and a "Juke Box Hero" medley that includes "Whole Lotta Love," a nice treat since son-of-Led Zeppelin Jason Bonham is on drums. Sequencing those two titles after the drum solo that follows "Urgent" is also a nice touch. Here's the up and the down of it, beautifully recorded at the Bang Your Head!!! festival in Balingen, Germany, for the band's 30th anniversary in 2006 -- and with all the players doing their corporate rock best, the purist may be chagrined to find hard rock refugee Kelly Hansen filling in for original member Lou Gramm on a package that the average radio listener might think is the original group. Only Mick Jones remains from the 30 years that have passed and, though his playing is as solid and impressive as ever, those who appreciate and care about music integrity might want some kind of a warning beyond the six photos on the cover. Foreigner never had the massive cult charm of Jim Morrison and the Doors, and that means the mainstream leanings of this group make the tribute band approach less offensive, but Hal Horowitz's same criticisms of the L.A. Woman Live DVD by the Doors of the 21st Century still come into play here. If grading for packaging and technical proficiency, this DVD is a well-crafted document of a collection of hard rockers working with sole original Foreigner member Jones. Kelly Hansen was lead vocalist in the Bob Ezrin-produced Hurricane in 1989, the year after Foreigner had their last of 16 chart hits. As Brian Howe never became a household name fronting Bad Company, neither will Kelly Hansen get universal recognition taking the reigns of Foreigner, replacing Lou Gramm who replaced King Kobra vocalist Johnny Edwards who replaced...Lou Gramm.

And therein lies the problem for this glossy document of the 2006 version of Foreigner as recorded at Bang Your Head!!! The musicians here -- longtime Aerosmith sideman Thom Gimbel, Dokken's Jeff Pilson, the younger Bonham on drums, and Jeff Jacobs ("who played with Billy Joel and who's been in this band a very long time" singer Hansen relates during his 15-and-a-half-minute interview) -- are all very talented. It's just not as magical as Foreigner in their heyday, with a choir joining them on-stage for performance versions of "I Want to Know What Love Is," which isn't on this collection. Jones and Bonham are also interviewed, and had this been called Foreigner III and included some history of the players, it would have been a bit more appealing for the aforementioned purists. Better still, why Stories lead singer Ian Lloyd isn't fronting the band, a fellow who is friends with the group and backing vocalist on most of their hits, is the real question for fans who want the band to evolve in a more logical fashion. Still, it's a professional set of half of Foreigner's major hits with one original member and an eight-page booklet that is most comprehensive. Of course, a sticker with "Featuring Kelly Hansen of Hurricane on vocals" would be helpful -- and would certainly limit sales, but isn't that the reason there is a band called the Doors of the 21st Century?

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