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Foreigner Can't Slow Down

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    Foreigner will perform at Penn's Peak on Sunday. The band is releasing a new three-disc set on Tuesday exclusively through Walmart.
Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

Foreigner is the latest classic rock band to jump on the Walmart bandwagon.

Two days after performing at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe this Sunday as part of its current 45 city tour, Foreigner will release Can't Slow Down, a three-disc set, exclusively through Walmart, on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Foreigner joins such bands as The Eagles and AC/DC in going with the Walmart exclusive route.

The new set, Foreigner's first in more than 15 years, excluding reissues and anthologies, is being released through Rhino Entertainment.

The set includes one disc of all-new material with the current line-up, featuring leader and founding guitarist Mick Jones, singer Kelly Hansen, bassist Jeff Pilson, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel, keyboard player Michael Bluestein and drummer Brian Tichy.

"We're really excited about it," said Pilson during a phone interview when discussing the new disc, with was produced by Jones and Marti Fredericksen, who has produced Aerosmith and Buckcherry. "There are some amazing songs on it."

Pilson mentioned the first single, "When It Comes To Love" and the ballad, "I Can't Give Up", as well as the title track, a NASCAR tribute, as several of the standout tracks among the 13 songs on the new disc.

It also includes a horn-driver remake of "Fool For You Anyway" from Foreigner's self-titled debut album in 1977, which was produced by Mark Ronson, and "Too Late", which was recorded by the band last year for a greatest hits anthology, No End in Sight.

Can't Slow Down also includes a remixed disc of the band's best-known hits, including "Urgent," "Cold As Ice," "Hot Blooded," "Juke Box Hero" and "Feels Like The First Time."

"They took the songs and cleaned them up," noted Pilson.

The final disc is a DVD that captures the band performing many of its hits live in 5.1 surround sound, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Can't Slow Down.

Since formed by Jones, a former member of the British progessive band Spooky Tooth (which also included Gary "Dreamweaver" Wright), Foreigner has been a staple of pop and now classic rock radio, mixing hook-filled rock with touches of rhythm and blues as well as stirring ballads and selling 70 million albums worldwide.

The original 1977 line-up included Jones, vocalist Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood, Ed Gagliardi, Dennis Elliot and Ian McDonald (formerly of King Crimson). The band got its name because it included Brits Jones, Elliott and McDonald with Americans Gramm, Greenwood and Gagliardi.

Their debut was an immediate hit, spawning rock radio standards "Feels Like the First Time" and "Cold as Ice".

Foreigner followed that up with 1978's Double Vision, which included the title hit, "Hot Blooded" and "Blue Morning, Blue Day". A year later, Head Games was also a hit, featuring the title song and "Dirty White Boy".

In 1981, Foreigner 4 proved to be the band's biggest album, including "Urgent", with its Junior Walker sax solo, as well as "Juke Box Hero" and the smash ballad "Waiting For a Girl Like You".

Foreigner continued to have hits in the 80's, particularly with ballads such as "I Want to Know What Love Is", the band's only song to go to number one on Billboard, and "I Don't Want to Live Without You".

Foreigner has had its share of personnel changes over the years, with Jones the only constant.

Gramm, whose soulful singing is part of Foreigner's signature sound, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1997, successfully treated with surgery. Hansen is currently handling the vocal duties in the latest line-up.

"Kelly has been pretty much accepted from the beginning, and it's really amazing," said Pilson. "We pay a lot of respect to the music, and when that happens, people are very cool with it."

Pilson is best known as a member of Dokken in the '80's before coming aboard with Foreigner.

"I was just a Foreigner fan," said Pilson. "Hard rock with great melodies was always something I loved. I felt like I was a natural for it."

Pilson's connection to Foreigner began while he was working with drummer Jason Bonham, the son of Led Zeppelin's late drummer, John Bonham.

"In 2001, I did the movie Rock Star (with Mark Wahlberg, which was based on the true story of "Ripper" Owens, who went from singing in a Judas Priest tribute band to fronting the real thing). Jason Bonham and I were part of the featured band (Steel Dragon)."

Bonham and Pilson came aboard in 2004 when Jones revamped Foreigner. Bonham left to play with the reunited Zeppelin at its December, 2007 reunion gig and has been replaced by Tichy, who had played with Foreigner previously.

"Brian's a phenomenal drummer, and he's awesome to play with," said Pilson.

Pilson has enjoyed his time in Foreigner, especially working with Jones.

"It's been fabulous," he noted. "Mick's not only a legendary guy, he really knows how to do it right. I have infinite respect for him."

Pilson said Foreigner will perform some songs from its new disc, but it will definitely deliver what fans expect from the band.

"We try to get in two new songs, but when you have 16 Top 30 songs, there's just so much good stuff," he related.

True to the title of the new disc, Foreigner shows no signs of slowing down after three decades of hitmaking.

Tickets for Foreigner at Penn's Peak on Sunday, Sept. 27 are $55 for the pit (standing room only in front of the stage) and $45 for reserved seating. Doors open at 6 p.m. with showtime at 8 p.m. Tickets are available on-line at at Ticketmaster outlets including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, at the Penn's Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant. Call toll free at (866) 605-PEAK.

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