Album review: FOREIGNER – I Want To Know What Love Is – The Ballads

Foreigner - The Ballads

earMUSIC [Release date 03.02.14]

You can’t help thinking this ballads collection is something of a cash-in in advance of the band’s spring tour with Europe and FM.  There are no new tracks but newcomers may be interested in the note-perfect re-rendering of these classics.

There is a bit of disingenuity too: more serious buyers may be horrified to see ‘Double Vision’ and ‘Feels Like The First Time’ in the track listing but – fear not – these are pared down versions that originally appeared on ‘Acoustique’ in 2011 .  But to include these essentially hard rock songs in a Ballads collection is frankly debatable.  The compiler evidently gave up with the construct because ‘Long Long Way From Home’ is the hard rock version.

Kelly Hansen does an excellent job on vocals recreating Lou Gramm’s distinctive emotional pull whilst maintaining his own dignity but the main crime is that all these tracks have been available before – even with the updated line-up – on that Acoustique release and in more recent times we’ve also had the bonus disc of remixes that  came with ‘Can’t Slow Down’  (2010).

This will, then, only appeal to complete novices and those BMW owners who take their latest squeeze to one of the forthcoming shows and who need to top up their greatest hits collections.  For completists, the 2-disc version includes a previously unreleased acoustic German concert.

What we really want is another new album, not re-treads of bygone classics immaculately performed.  2010′s “comeback” album ‘Can’t Slow Down’ was perhaps criminally under-rated and is represented here with six tracks.

As a scene-setter for the UK tour, though, it does remind us that – aside from the hard rocking -  Foreigner have an irresistible softer underbelly even if – in this case – the packaging is somewhat laboured and a tad lazy.  ***1/2

Review by David Randall

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