Journey are far removed
from what most would consider heavy metal. Certainly any self respecting metalhead
worth his patch clad denim vest in the late 70's and early 80's wouldn't admit
to liking this bunch of AOR rockers, especially after they became the kings
of high school slow dances with "Waiting for a Girl Like You" some years later.
In reality, however, this is a really good rock 'n' roll record. Many regard
it as the band's best. It certainly generated a couple of mega-hits in "Feels
Like the First Time" and "Cold As Ice". One other thing that Foreigner did in
1977 was to help kick off the big arena rock era that would soon follow. While
most 70's bands were being beat into the ground by the punk explosion of the
time, Foreigner, Journey and Boston all proved to the world that genuine rock n roll was still relevant and hugely
popular. For the most part, the songs on Foreigner are relatively tame compared
to harder rocking bands like Ted Nugent and Aerosmith who were both hugely popular
in '77. They were especially tame to the newers crop of heavy British bands
like UFO and Judas
Priest, who would soon find fame in heavy metal's resurgence in the 80's.
However, Foreigner songs still rocked, thanks in part to the riffs of Mick Jones,
the soaring, clean vocals of Lou Gramm and the catchy songwriting. There was
even a bit of experimentation with "space rock" on songs like "Starrider". Oh
sure, no metalhead would admit to liking this trite, but the fact is, we all
left the radio station on when these songs came on. C'mon, admit it, you know
you like it!
Reissued and remastered
in 2002 with four bonus tracks. Nothing really essential here, but the remastering
and expanded booklet are worth the price.
Foreigner - Double Vision (Atlantic) 1978
1. "Hot Blooded"
2. "Blue Morning, Blue Day" (3:06)
3. "You're All I Am" (3:19)
4. "Back Where You Belong" (3:20)
5. "Love Has Taken Its Toll" (3:25)
6. "Double Vision" (3:40)
7. "Tramontane" [instrumental] (3:52)
8. "I Have Waited So Long" (4:04)
9. "Lonely Children" (3:31)
10. "Spellbinder" (4:43)
Led by songwriting and
smooth voices of Lou Gramm and Mick Jones, Foreigner deliver their sophmore
release. Many fans at the time were unsure that Foreigner would be able to record
a follow-up album as good and the hugely successful debut. However, Foreigner
indeed delivered the goods as "Double Vision" was a big hit and helped secure
the band as superstars. This one features several big rock radio staples including
"Hot Blooded" and the title track. Both are big rockers and some of the band's
finest songs. Likewise, "Blue Morning, Blue Day" is n excellent, classic, melodic
song. I also enjoy the keyboard heavy instrumental "Tromontane". Unfortunately
this CD is marred by a few sappy ballads such as "You'r Are All I Am", "I Have
Waited So Long" and "Back Where You Belong". Other than these, however, I enjoy
the bands simple, pop rock approach from time to time and find "Double Vision"
to be on par with the band's debut.
Foreigner - Head Games (Atlantic) 1979
1. "Dirty White Boy" (3:37)
2. "Love on the Telephone" (3:18)
3. "Women" (3:25)
4. "I'll Get Even with You" (3:40)
5. "Seventeen" (4:43)
6. "Head Games" (3:37)
7. "The Modern Day" (3:26)
8. "Blinded by Science" (4:54)
9. "Do What You Like" (3:58)
10. "Rev on the Red Line" (3:35)
11. "Zalia" (2:34)
And the rock and roll hit machines keeps on rollin'. Same macho, sexist lyrics. Same keep it simple formula. The band still rocks hard, for the most part, but the pop hooks are undeniable. The albums starts off with a good time rock and roller "Dirty White Boy". There's the Foghat boogie rock of "Woman" and the Steve Miller Band swagger of "The Modern Day", which is sung by Mick Jones instead of Lou Gramm. The album's big hit was "Head Games", a heady rocker with an undeniable hook. The production on "Head Games" is mildly heavier that the previous two, making the rockers seem to rock just a bit harder. "Head Games" keeps it simple; straight forward hard rock with lots of hooks. It's what Foreigner did best up through this album.
Foreigner - 4 (Atlantic) 1981
1. "Night Life"
2. "Juke Box Hero" (4:20)
3. "Break It Up" (4:13)
4. "Waiting For A Girl Like You" (4:52)
5. "Luanne" (3:28)
6. "Urgent" (4:31)
7. "I'm Gonna Win" (4:53)
8. "Woman in Black" (4:46)
9. "Girl on the Moon" (3:53)
10. "Don't Let Go" (3:57)
11. "Juke Box Hero" [unplugged] (3:06)
12. "Waiting For A Girl Like You" [unplugged] (2:50)
Foreigner broke into the
1980's with a bang. "4" was a huge hit for the band in 1981 and featured several
singles. Yes, I know, no self-respecting metalhead in the early 80's would be
caught dead listening to this radio dribble. Even if one could justify owning
and listening to the band's first two or three albums, this album seemed to
be just a bit too far outside acceptable hard rock standards. The keyboards
on this album were equally as important as the guitars, which may account for
why many rockers turned away from "4", while the masses ate it up. To a large
degree I agree that this album is just a bit too pop. For the most part "4"
is ultra-light, commercial, radio-ready, pop rock for the masses. The sappy
ballad "Waiting For A Girl Like You" is one of the most overplayed songs in
the history of rock and roll. Growing up and going to high school in the 80's,
you couldn't go to a function without this song being cranked through the PA.
I actually prefer the unplugged version included as a bonus track on this disc
to the original version. However, the entire CD is not one long ballad. "Night
Life" is a rocking opener and has a sound not unlike something off "Double Vision".
Likewise the bluesy "I'm Gonna Win" has a similar sound to those early Foreigner
albums. "Juke Box Hero" and "Urgent" are overplayed hits, but there is no denying
the sing-along hooks of these songs. Both these tracks are still regular players
on classic rock and pop formats. "Urgent" features a great saxophone solo. The
lesser known "Luanne" is also a good uptempo number as well. "4" is not one
of my favorite CDs, but it's a enjoyable, nostalgic trip through history every
once and while. It should also be noted that the keyboards on this album were
performed by Thomas Dolby, before anyone knew who he was.
Foreigner - Agent Provocateur (Atlantic) 1984
1. Tooth and Nail (3:55)
2. That Was Yesterday (3:49)
3. I Want to Know What Love Is (5:06)
4. Growing Up the Hard Way (4:14)
5. Reaction to Action (4:02)
6. Stranger in My Own House (5:05)
7. A Love in Vain (4:31)
8. Down on Love (4:12)
9. Two Different Worlds (4:32)
10. She's Too Tough (3:10)
Up to this point, Foreigner had a bunch of hard rock hits including "Cold As Ice", "Hot Blooded", "Juke Box Hero", "Head Games", etc. They had their share of ballad hits as well including "Blue Morning, Blue Day" and the high school slow dance favorite "Waiting on A Girl Like You", however, they were not defined by these ballads. They were more known for the rockers. With "Agent Provocateur", Foreigner sealed their fate as the kings of soft rock and heart throbbing love ballads. The big hit off this album was "I Want To Know What Love Is", a song that unfortunately defined Foreigner from the time it hit the air waves until present. As such, the hard rocker fans who were tired of the ballads turned away in droves, leaving only the here-today-gone-tomorrow radio hit fans. It's sort of unfortunate because there are still plenty of good rock and roll songs such as "Stranger in My Own House", "Reaction to Action" and "Tooth and Nail". These songs actually have a bit more bite than previous rockers. Album opener might have even been labeled as heavy metal in 1984. "That Was Yesterday" is another ballad, one that I think is better than "I Want To Know What Love Is", but isn't anywhere near as popular.
I had read on-line that the members of the band say that they wish they had never recorded "I Want to Know What Love Is." At the time I am sure they were basking in the limelight and platinum plus record sales. In retrospect, it sealed their fate as a lightweight ballad band.
Foreigner - Inside Information (Atlantic ) 1987
1. Heart Turns to Stone (4:33)
2. Can't Wait (4:31)
3. Say You Will (4:14)
4. I Don't Want to Live Without You (4:56)
5. Counting Every Minute (4:12)
6. Inside Information (4:12)
7. The Beat of My Heart (5:12)
8. Face to Face (3:56)
9. Out of the Blue (4:44)
10. A Night to Remember (4:08)
Foreigner were a hit making machine in the 70's and on into the 1980's. Their album "4" was a hug success culling several hit singles. It should be no surprise that subsequent follow-up albums pretty much stuck to a similar formula as "4", even if they weren't quite a good. Of course, since Foreigner were making tons of money for Atlantic Records, their recording and production is top notch for 1987. The album starts off with a fairly strong track in "Heart Turns to Stone", an energetic rock song that became a minor hit fora the band. "Say You Will" was a top ten single for Foreigner and pushed sales of "Inside Information" to platinum status. The song is a keyboard driven pop rock song with great vocals and an undeniable, memorable hook. The follow-up was also a minor hits, "I Don't Want to Live Without You" is one of those sickening, tepid, AOR, radio love ballads that clogged up pop radio in the 80's. Basically, this was an attempt to replicate the success of "Waiting for a Girl Like You" and "I Want to Know What Love Is". I suppose it worked, as the song is pretty memorable, even if it doesn't have the soul and passion of "I Want to Know What Love Is". "Inside Information" experiments a little, "Face to Face" is a driving synth rock song and "The Beat of My Heart" features a Spanish guitar intro by guest guitarist Hugh McCracken. "Face to Face" is actually one of the best songs on the album. However, the standout track is "Out of the Blue", the only song written by the entire band of Mick Jones (guitars/keyboards), Lou Gramm (vocals), Rick Wills (bass) and Dennis Elliott (drums). "Inside Information" was Foreigner's last huge commercial success. For what it is, an 1980's pop rock album, it's not bad, though I personally prefer the more organic hard rock of the band's 70's releases.
Foreigner - Unusal Heat (Atlantic) 1991
1. Only Heaven Knows (4:47)
2. Lowdown and Dirty (4:21)
3. I'll Fight For You (6:02)
4. Moment of Truth (4:25)
5. Mountain of Love (4:37)
6. Ready for the Rain (5:02)
7. When the Night Comes Down (4:43)
8. Safe In My Heart (4:32)
9. No Hiding Place (3:55)
10. Flesh Wound (4:17)
11. Unusual Heat (4:32)
"Unusual Heat" was the first Foreigner album without vocalist Lou Gramm. Replacing Gramm on vocals is Johnny Edwards from King Kobra and Buster Brown. Their voices aren't all that similar, which makes the album sound foreign to the rest of the Foreigner catalog. Gramm was obviously a big part of Foreigner's sound and charisma. However, Edwards is a very good vocalist in his own right though he isn't really given much to work with here. The album as a whole is a slightly lackluster, though very listenable. The problem for me was that I really had to push myself to pay attention or the music would quickly fade to the background.
Unlike the later 80's Foreigner albums, the band actually lets the guitars come out front with keys never overpowering them. Though the album is standard AOR-fare, the unusual thing about "Unusual Heat" is that it is actually has some songs that are better than one might expect. "Lowdown and Dirty" is one of the harder rocking tracks on the album and probably one of the albums highlights as well. This particular track sounds like it could have been recorded by the Damn Yankees or Brian Howe-era Bad Company. The other standout cuts are the moody, melodic "I'll Fight For You" and "Ready for the Rain". "No Hiding Place" is an obvious attempt to recreate the excitement of "Juke Box Hero". As might be expected there are the sappy ballads like "When the Night Comes Down" as well. Overall, "Unusual Heat" is an enjoyable album, though a bit lifeless at times.
Foreigner - Mr. Moonlight (Rhythm Safari) 1995
1. White Lie (3:54)
2. Rain (4:35)
3. Until the End of Time (4:51)
4. All I Need to Know (4:16)
5. Running the Risk (4:47)
6. Real World (6:20)
7. Big Dog (4:45)
8. Hole on My Soul (5:09)
9. I Keep Hoping (5:15)
10. Under the Gun (5:10)
11. Hand on My Heart (4:59)
After releasing one album without the consummate Lou Gramm on vocals called "Unusual Heat", Lou returns to the fold after a near eleven year absence. With "Unusual Heat" the band sort of lost their identity. No doubt it is Lou's vocals that help define the band. With him back at the mic, Foreigner sound like Foreigner. For the most part, the band that now includes only original members Mick Jones (guitar) and Lou, sticks to their '80s keyboard sound. There are a few rockers on here, like opener "Under the Gun" and the unusual "Big Dog". "Under the Gun" in particular has an AC/DC meets classic Foreigner vibe to it. Lou's smokey, slightly grainy vocals sound as good as they ever have. "White Lie" is a pop rocker in the tradition of "4". Of course, what would a Foreigner album be without the ballads? "Mr. Moonlight" is packed full of them. "Until the End of Time" and "I Keep Hoping" are typical high school slow dance fodder. However, "Real World" is far more interesting. The song is somewhat darker than the typical "Waiting for a Girl Like You" or "I Want To Know What Love Is" ballad. This song could have been a hit for the band, had it not been 1995 when music like this was considered "dead and gone". Overall, "Mr. Moonlight" seems to be a bit overrun with ballads. I would have preferred a few more hard rockers. However,"Mr. Moonlight" is still a good CD. Fans who dismiss this album without giving it a listen are doing themselves a disservice.
Foreigner - Can't Slow Down (Rhino Records) 2009
1. Can't Slow Down (3:28)
2. In Pieces (3:53)
3. When It Comes To Love (3:54)
4. Living In A Dream (3:43)
5. I Can't Give Up (4:32)
6. Ready (3:43)
7. Give Me A Sign (3:52)
8. I'll Be Home Tonight (4:14)
9. Too Late (3:45)
10. Lonely (3:29)
11. As Long As I Live (3:48)
12. Angel Tonight (3:32)
13. Fool For You Anyway (4:04)
Foreigner 2009 are not all that different from Foreigner in the 80's. As a matter of fact, "Can't Slow Down" could have been the follow-up to "Agent Provocateur" or "Inside Information". What's odd about this is that the voice behind the band is not Lou Gramm, but rather Kelly Hansen of Hurricane fame. His vocals are so similar to Gramm that it's uncanny. The other odd factor in this is that the only original member of the band left in the band is guitarist Mick Jones. Despite the personnel changes, not much has changed. "Can't Slow Down" is a mixture of safe as milk and cookies AOR and made for radio ballads. The songs and the production feature a lot of industry names. Next to Jones and Hansen, the one that pops up the most is Marti Frederiksen, another musician from the 80s who worked with Aerosmith. Frederiksen both co-writes and produces "Can't Slow Down".
The title track was written as a tribute to NASCAR in celebration of Foreigner's Samsung 500appearance at the Texas Motor Speedway. This is one of the more rocking tunes on the album. The song is followed up by "In Pieces" which would easily have been a hit for the band in their heyday. "When It Comes To Love" features some sax work from multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel. Also along for the ride are bassist Jeff Pilson (formerly of Dokken/Dio), keyboardist Michael Bluestein and drummer Brian Tichy. Jason Bonham appears on drums for "Too Late, a song that originally appeared on "No End In Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner". The old-school R&B feel behind of "Fool For You Anyway" is a nice change from the norm. The ballads are many, and are aptly named "When It Comes To Love", "I'll Be Home Tonight", "As Long As I Live", "I Can't Give Up", etc. Sort of paint-by-numbers as far as ballads are concerned, but most Foreigner fans would have it no other way. "Can't Slow Down" is exactly what anyone could want from Foreigner. I guess the old saying holds true; if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
There is also a three disc set; disc 1 is new material, disc 2 is re-mixes of classic radio hits, and disc 3 is a bonus DVD.