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Extended Versions

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(22 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • The Sony/BMG ‘Extended Versions’ series has gotten a really bad name by repackaging old (previously released) live albums, shuffling the running order and releasing them under a misleading title to give buyers the impression they are getting an all new recording. This live recording by Foreigner has changed all of that, though. For one, it is a brand new show recorded in Las Vegas on November 26th, 2005. Unless you were there that night, you haven’t heard this one before. The show has never been released on cd before and it is the only widely available album of Foreigner’s current lineup in concert.

    Say what you will about original members (i.e. Lou Gramm) who are no longer in the band. Mick Jones is the only original member left in Foreigner today. However, he has truly surrounded himself with some seasoned musicians who make you forget all about it. Checking in on lead vocals is Kelly Hansen, formerly of Hurricane and Heaven & Earth. He is joined by Jeff Jacobs on keyboards, Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken) on bass, Jason Bonham (ex-Bonham/ex-U.F.O.) on drums and Tom Gimbel rounding out the band. All six guys are pictured on the front cover and their names are listed on the inside front sleeve. It sounds cliche to say but the new members inject some new life into the band. You’ll hear that when you listen to this particular live show. Like you may have already read on the reviews page, this is a fine showcase for Foreigner’s new lineup. The reviewers below will tell you that. The funny thing is that many people picking this up might go in with low expectations. At least until they listen to ‘Extended Versions.’ Even the most hardened Lou Gramm fan will have to admit that this band knocks out Foreigner’s greatest hits in a resounding fashion.

    Nine of the ten songs featured on ‘Extended Versions’ are over five minutes long. A couple of them are over eight minutes. With the addition of Jason Bonham (John’s son) to the band, Foreigner even sneaks in a medley of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Like everything else on this album, it will knock your socks off. What becomes clear is that this lineup is arguably as good as the original lineup and they are having a lot of fun on stage. Listen to Kelly Hansen work the crowd all night long. Lou Gramm isn’t around anymore to fight over control of the band with Mick Jones. No unhappy members griping about the setlist or the musical direction of the band that later translates into tension on stage. These guys are happy to be on stage in front of a good crowd.

    What helps matters, for some, is that Foreigner plays a generous set of their best known material. No filler tracks, new songs or ten minute drum solos. Highlights include Kelly Hansen’s energy, Jason Bonham’s drumming (particularly on “Jukebox Hero”) and obviously the lead guitar of Mick Jones. What is worth noting is that this new album was produced by Jeff Pilson, who played bass for Foreigner on this release. Not only did he play a mean bass this night but he did right by the band with a solid production job. There is not a dud in this live set. Every song rings true and many of them are as good as the studio versions. “Head Games” gets this one off to a fine start. From there, some of the best moments include “Starrider” and “I want to know what love is.” There are only a couple of bad points. New vocalist Kelly Hansen’s stage raps are laughable, dated, arena rock 101 crowd pleasers. Don’t get me wrong, though. He does more than make up for it with his powerful voice. Like it or not, he is sounding a lot better than Lou Gramm these days.

    The other bad news is that ‘Extended Versions’ did not get a more proper release. As part of this low-budget cd line, you’ll find it for under $6 in every department store (i.e. Walmart) across the country. I can sort of see why the band did it, because it is easy distribution and a lot of people are likely to see it on the shelf. However, most journalists, critics and web sites will never bother to review it. No radio station will ever play it. They will all see the album title and cover only to assume it is some shoddy repackaging by the record company, ala ‘Super Hits.’ That is a shame. Let’s just hope that fans don’t make the same mistake. Unless you read the fine print on the back cover or closely study the band picture on the front, you’d be hard pressed to realize it is an all new release. This is too bad because ‘Extended Versions’ is already a vital addition to Foreigner’s discography, in my opinion. It has been many years since any given version of Foreigner has released anything relevant and this is it. The band should have at least considered keeping the show for themselves and releasing it independently with a more fitting title that could be promoted a little better. Releasing it online or selling it at concerts may have been a suitable alternative to selling the rights to Sony and having it get lost in the shuffle. Despite all of that, based on the Amazon ranking (as of the fall of 2006), this album has been selling fairly well considering its low profile and lack of coverage. It has already outsold many other titles in Sony’s ‘Extended Versions’ series that have been out a lot longer. A couple of Foreigner web sites online have been working day and night to get the word out about this release and they have to be applauded for it. Their message boards have been buzzing since the official release earlier in 2006.

    ‘Extended Versions’ may not feature the original lineup of Foreigner. Some of these temporary guys might not even be in the band a couple of years from now. None of that matters, though. Mick Jones has propped Foreigner back up with a red-hot lineup. This live album is clear proof. I think a lot of Foreigner’s fans may be pleasantly surprised with this one, if they don’t mind hearing someone other than Lou singing their favorite songs. Somebody has to sing them since Gramm chooses to ignore many of the Foreigner songs that Mick Jones wrote (including “I want to know what love is”) during his solo concerts, out of spite towards Jones. Lou has openly said in recent interviews that he has no intention of playing some of those Mick Jones tunes again as a solo artist, even though they helped Lou Gramm sell a lot of records. Foreigner ‘Extended Versions’ comes highly recommended. Given the low price and how easy it is to find, there is no reason why you should pass it up. Be forewarned that you may get the itch to see this lineup play live. It’d be very interesting to see what these six bandmates come up with if they ever decided to record a studio album together. I think it could work well.

    Posted on December 17, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Not only is this by far the best foreigner live cd ever, it is one of the best Live cds in ages. Kelly’s Voice Wails, its perfectly clear, you can hear the audience but still hear everything wondefully. The extra length to the songs are amazing. I saw them 2wice in 2005, and this captures everything from the concert. Mick Jones’s guitar wails and is crystal clear, and he this proves that he can re-invent flawless classic songs and make them even better. Its amazing that this band can still kick after almost 30 years, but they truly are better than ever. They are even attracting new fans (Im 18 and am a huge fan). I really hope this lineup makes a new cd, but until then, pick this up. Its an absulute steal at this price.

    Posted on December 17, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I heared Foreigner reformed with only Mick Jones as the original member. I had basically written them off as washed-up and over. How can it be Foreigner without Lou? Then I saw this CD. I actually laughed when I saw it and thought “This has gotta be bad, almost worth picking up bad”. Well was I surprised at how good this band sounds! Kelly does not sound exactly like Lou Gramm but he sings in the same range and is a suitable replacement. The band also features former members of Dokken and Bonham. In fact, they also do a snippet of “Whole Lotta Love”. Only hit missing here is “Double Vision”. This is a pleasant listen for any classic rock fan. I am a “casual” Foreigner fan, not a die-hard. SO far, the best of the “Extended Versions” series.

    Posted on December 16, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Love that line. Just finished listening to Extended Versions live, and it really rocks. The first 3 songs sound really good, but once Dirty White Boy starts the whole CD just kicks up a notch and keeps getting better from there. The songs are heavier sounding than in the past, but nothing that takes away from the variety of style & instrumentation that’s always been a Foreigner hallmark. It’s just that once the band gets warmed up, the CD really maintains an intensity throughout, just like the show I attended during their 2005 tour which this recording comes from.

    The first thing I noticed when I looked at the CD back tray liner was that the shortest song was 4:25 (Dirty White Boy) and all the others clocked over 5 minutes. Five songs…half the CD…came in at over 6 minutes so I could tell they were definitely “extended” and kept in most of the cool stuff I heard at the show I attended. Some extended instrumental work and so on. Mick Jones really comes alive as a guitar player here. Overall just shy of 70 minutes total. Dirty White Boy, Starrider, Urgent & Juke Box Hero are definitely stand-out tracks. Lots of swagger and they really rock. The new rhythms they’re playing on Starrider really kick. For those who may’ve heard the new band for the first time on the Rockline radio show last summer, the versions of Urgent and Juke Box Hero on this CD sound even better.

    The next thing I noticed was that the CD and all the songs were published by “Trigger Productions, Inc.” Thought that was cute. (For those unfamiliar, Trigger was Foreigner’s original name on the demo recording they circulated back in 1976. That very good & interesting demo is included in its entirety as bonus tracks for the remastered/extended debut CD released a couple years ago.) Also noticed that this CD was produced by bassist Jeff Pilson, giving the project a real “band” feel.

    I’m glad too that they listed the date & location of the show on the CD liner. Most of the other Extended Live CD’s I’ve seen don’t. This band still rocks!

    Posted on December 16, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Ok, I saw Foreigner on their very 1st tour (yeah I am most likely older than you!). They were fresh and exciting back then. 6 young guys bringing something fresh to the world. Years later after an incredible run of CLASSIC hits, Mick and Lou have gone their seperate ways. Lou has his band mostly of relatives (I can’t speak for their quality) and Mick has retained Jeff Jacobs on keyboards and added Jason Bonham on drums, Kelly Hansen of Hurricane on lead vocals, Thom Gimbel on rhythm guitar & sax, and Jeff Pilson on bass. I was so blown away by this CD that I now have frint row center tickets to see them this summer. WOW! I had heard that people seeing them last year didn;t know that 5 of the players weren’t original members but I was sceptical. This band ROCKS! Congrats Mick on keeping Foreigner alive. All the songs are somewhat extended and rock harder in most cases than the originals. Juke Box Hero gets a super workout and includes Zep’s Whole Lotta Love. I assume a tribute to the band and Jason’s father. This CD is so cheap it is the DEAL OF THE CENTURY! Kelly is similar to Lou but wails. He has great highs still which Lou now has trouble with. Gibbel gives Jr Walker a run on Urgent as well. If you buy this CD you will want to see Foreigner 2006 for sure!

    Posted on December 16, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now