Foreigner: Acoustique

Stripped-back radio rock.

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It should be a mantra from all managers to all bands as they hit middle-age: ‘Your songs will not sound better acoustic.’ Yet, in an attempt to suit their best-known songs to the mellowing tastes of their AOR audience and garner the hushed respect they always felt their masterpieces deserved, they all end up booking the Albert Hall and giving it a bash.

Foreigner’s emotive radio-rock stands a better chance of surviving the downgrade than most, considering the rich and powerful vocals of Kelly Hansen – an uncanny impression of his predecessor, Lou Gramm – and the elaborate guitar fripperies of Mick Jones.

Songs such as Waiting For A Girl Like You, The Flame Still Burns and the freshly soulful Fool For You Anyway always sounded like acoustic torch songs plastered with production gloss, so they shine in this stripped-back format.

It’s when Foreigner pare their rockier numbers to the bone that the cap really hits the pavement. Juke Box Hero and Long, Long Way From Home fall into the clichéd trap of Celtic tinges and busker brackishness, Double Vision is an atrocity of bongo and bellowing, while Cold As Ice virtually becomes a Madness song with its jaunty strums and flying saxophones.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).