Tag Archives: jeff pilson

Foreigner @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (10/20/2009)

Logo - Foreigner

Artist: Foreigner
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Sq. (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 10/20/2009
Label: Rhino Entertainment

It’s pretty funny but when I think back upon all of the shows that I have attended over the course of my life it seems that not once did I ever catch the band Foreigner when they were first reaching their zenith. I was primarily surprised about this based on my loving so many of the bands tunes and how could this not be the case when popular radio during the late seventies, eighties and even some of the nineties always found their classics in regular rotation. Back in the day it was not uncommon to find the deejays playing the radio listening public a “block” of Foreigner greats or a particular album side and believe me, no one was complaining about it. The band while formed in 1976 has changed quite a few members and only finds founding guitarist/songwriter Mick Jones in place as he continues to lead the charge of the bands music with fresh talent. In 2009 Foreigner consists of Jones of course and now Kelly Hansen (vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass), Thom Gimbel (guitar), Brian Tichy (drums) and Michael Bluestein (keyboards). Many of the followers of the eighties Hard Rock and Metal remember Pilson from Dokken and Hansen from Hurricane. These stalwarts of Hair Metal would be joined by drummer Brian Tichy (who I remember from working with Billy Idol and Derek Sherinian most recently) and Thom Gimbel and Michael Bluestein who handle second guitar and keyboards respectively. Clearly the classic material of Foreigner would be in excellent hands with these musicians.
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“Can’t Slow Down” by Foreigner

Artist: Foreigner
Title: “Can’t Slow Down”
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 9/29/2009
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

Foreigner is one of the great ones when it comes to powerful and memorable radio friendly Rock music and their sound comes from a time when the term was not as insulting as it can be today. Let’s face it, in today’s music scene, “radio friendly” is often stuff that will bore you to tears. In their original heyday, the bands fans were able to find Foreigner music played as part of the regular rotation on any of the numerous Rock radio stations that held dominance on the dial. As a result of this initial grip, the bands music has become a respected part of music history and it is well deserved. If you are like me, there has to be at least five tunes by the band that you love to hear and can probably sing a chorus and a couple of verses from. Over the years the lineup has changed and now features only Mick Jones as the original founding member and he is joined by a talented bunch of musicians that feature Jeff Pilson on bass (formerly of Dokken), Kelly Hansen on vocals (formerly of Hurricane), Tom Gimbel, Brian Tichy and Michael Bluestein who round it out on guitars, drums and keyboards. Together they follow a tradition that seemed to be started by Journey last year as they deliver new music that also features a second CD of remixed classics and a live DVD that features a concert and bonus features. With so many parts to absorb I dissected them one by one and offer comments on each.
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“The Definitive Rock Collection” by Dokken

Artist: Dokken
Title: “The Definitive Rock Collection”
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 4/26/2006
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

For most of my years as a fan of the Metal I have always been able to appreciate the talents and contributions made to the genre by the guys in Dokken. Let’s face it, even though they were often unfairly dumped into the category of your average “Hair Metal” band, you have to agree that the guys clearly delivered the goods and brought a lot more to the table with their brand of Melodic Heavy Metal than most of their peers. That being said and understood makes looking over this particular Greatest Hits collection a little easier because from beginning to end there are just so many good songs to raise the horns about. The band released a “Very Best of Dokken” back in 1999 and every track from that release is presented here with the exception of the Don Dokken solo track of “Mirror, Mirror”. If you as a buyer of this CD can live without that particular tune, you can easily swap that collection for this one and make the older version a present to some young Metal head in training. This collection is a double CD affair and features thirty of the bands most essential numbers and makes the “Definitive” labeling rather appropriate.
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“No End In Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner” by Foreigner

Artist: Foreigner
Title: “No End In Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner”
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 7/15/2008
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

Rock music fans around the world will be jumping out of their seats when they get their hands on the new double CD collection “No End In Sight: The Very Best Of Foreigner”. The main reason for such levels of jubilance is based on its being a collection of tunes that will really bring back the memory of the bands glorious rise to Arena Rock legendry and their long term dominance over the radio airwaves of the time. Growing up as a music fan during the bands heyday I can safely say that there wasn’t a radio station to be found that wasn’t playing a Foreigner track of some kind during regular broadcast times (of course I am speaking outside of your talk, sports and foreign language stations). The interesting thing about this was that it was during a time when the tunes played were actually DJ preferences and audience demand as opposed to the station manager following what advertisers directed him to play and having the listeners like it eventually after being spoon fed the track time and time again. To me, this “old school” approach makes the band hold a lot more relevance and value when it comes to looking back on their history in a collection such as this. Foreigner was formed by Mick Jones and fronted for many years by Lou Gramm and together the pair were an unstoppable partnership of Hard Rock power. The sound of Foreigner was big in every sense of the word and from the moment you put in the first CD you will find yourself rocking along until it ends and of course its then you realize that you have one more full CD length to travel as the collection brings you up to the latest activity in the bands book.
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“Seasons Of Tragedy” by Benedictum

Artist: Benedictum
Title: “Seasons Of Tragedy”
Label: Locomotive Records
Release Date: 3/4/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Having enjoyed their debut “Uncreation” so much I was eager to see how San Diego’s Benedictum would do with their sophomore release and I am happy to report that “Seasons Of Tragedy” stands proud on its own and finds the band proving themselves a great Metal force as tune after tune thunders by. The band is led by Veronica Freeman and she is nothing less than impressive. Her vocal style doesn’t follow the day’s trend of being either Operatic, Symphonic or Death Growling but instead seems to bring us back to a more traditional Metal singer who uses elements of each discipline as needed. Either way she can belt them out and comes off as a powerhouse on every song on the album. Musically this one is perhaps even a little stronger than the debut and perhaps this is based on the band growing into one another a little more and feeling much more confident at the task. Of course the first album rocked but with “Seasons Of Tragedy” they have effectively kicked it up a notch and it all begins with a mood-setting instrumental called “Dawn Of Seasons”. The band jumps into gear with “Shell Shock” and this is a really great opening tune since it grabs you by the throat and you can almost feel how the band does this one live since you cant help but find yourself head banging to it. Pete Wells sounds even better on this one with a number of blazing leads and trudging groove-laden riffs and does great work on tracks like “Within The Solace” and “Legacy”. Having found myself enjoying most of the tracks it was a little tricky to decide on a mere two. Completing the lineup we have Jesse Wright on bass and Paul Courtois on drums. A perfect rhythm section for this type of Metal as they hold the bottom end down and occasionally demonstrate enough of the necessary flair to brighten up a track a little more. The band is very in your face and not only finds producer Jeff Pilson once again offering up some bass guitar, but we also find George Lynch (Dokken/Lynch Mob) and Manni Schmidt (Grave Digger) on the tracks “Bare Bones” and “Burn It Out” respectively.
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