Foreigner?  Nein danke mate … it’s all limpAORiwannaknowwhatloveisradiopap, innit?  I’m far too cool what with all my metal and punk and hardcore and achingly esoteric 90’s trip-hoppolloza.

Or so I thought. 

Last year I bought a copy of Foreigner mostly because I couldn’t see anything else in the shop I wanted to buy more and because I really like ‘Cold As Ice’.  Oh and I have a bit of a thing for LPs with really crap pictures of trains on the sleeve*.  True story. 

So I played it a couple of times, liked the hits and then thought nothing of it until I fished it out again about a month ago.  Foreigner has been pretty much glued to my turntable since then.  I have to play it almost every day, twice today even.  Maybe I’m now a limpAORiwannaknowwhatloveisradiopap fan?

Right from the opening bars of ‘Feels Like The First Time’ Foreigner hits home.  Never mind feeling like the first time, there is something so well-crafted and honed about these tracks that hearing them is like accessing some dimly-held ancestral memory; you never hear these songs for the first time, they’re already in there!  

As an opening salvo ‘… First Time’ and ‘Cold As Ice’ really pack a wallop.  What strikes me now are the Bad Company meets Beatles-isms of them both, the piano on the latter is particularly great.  Music this good simply bypasses all your feeble cool defences and just storms the citadel of your heart, pitchfork in hand.  And rightly so, this is music designed to make you turn your radio up.

Next up is the brilliant comedy track ‘Starrider’, where the band send up gormless goofy 70’s pretensions with a faultlessly deadpan take on every bit of cosmic rock nonsense possible.  All synths, hilarious lyrics, multi-tracking and straining for meaningful.  Hilarious stuff.  Oh … serious? you sure? … oh.  Oops, it’s okay nobody actually reads any of this anyway.

Mick Jones gets to play it faux tough on ‘Headknocker’ and it doesn’t really suit, despite some (intentionally) amusing lyrics, the whole thing sounds like a Bad Company B-side/demo version/rough mix/riff origins tape.  I rather like the overblown wimpiness of ‘The Damage Is Done’ despite myself.

Monday, sad, sad Monday

She’s waiting for me 

But I’m a long, long way from home

Long, Long Way From Home

Never mind all that, just clear the decks for Foreigner (the LP and the band) best ever moment: ‘Long, Long Way From Home’.  Yeah, boy!  I am utterly obsessed with this track.  Everything about it is just spot on for me, the length of it (2:53) is perfect; Gramm, on his best vocal performance, has never sounded so great mixing rock and street tough R&B just right; the fact that beneath Mick Jones’ well-mannered guitar churn lurks a solid horn section; great me-and-you-against-the-world-babe lyrics; Ian McDonald plays an absolute blinder on this one too**.  I have to crank this at least six times every time I hear it.

… which makes the sub-Wings flatulence of ‘Woman Oh Woman’ even harder to take.  The less said about that the better.  Okay so it is immaculately-crafted tosh, but tosh nonetheless.

Still, it tees up ‘At War With The World’ brilliantly, with its’ not-quite-as-clever-as-they-think-they-are lyrics and hard rocking swagger.  I really like this one, even the incongruous synth solo in the middle enhances rather than trashes it.  Some particularly neat vocal harmonising and guitaring throughout.  This was an unexpected treat.

Foreigner ends well too, the quite beautifully designed no-sharp-edges ‘Fool For You Anyway’ and the rawer ‘I Need You’ close things out nicely, the latter again letting Mick Jones exercise his fingers to the max.   

I understand why Foreigner has really grabbed my attention and it isn’t totally about the singles either, or even about the high levels of musicianship involved.  What really strikes me here is just what a brilliantly listenable LP this is, even the few tracks I’m not very keen on just blend beautifully with the rest.  It’s that classic sports cliché about a team being better than the sum of its parts and a bit of a lost musical art too, making an album that has no real agenda other than to sound great.  there should be more of this sort of thing.

Oh and that really is an undisputed all-time hall of fameTop 10 crap back cover.

914 Down.

PS: This post was going to be finished on Monday, hence the title, ah well. Life.

Pretty sure they’re miming here but it still rocks.  Bands don’t dress properly like this anymore!

*genuinely, I swear on my gerbil’s life that I am not just frantically casting around here trying to retroactively justify a purchase.  No sirree.

**the man providing the often sought link between Foreigner and King Crimson.  Yowza!

19 thoughts on “Monday Sad, Sad Monday

  1. I’m with Bruce on his first sentence of his comment.
    I had no idea that Ian MacDonald was in this band until a while ago. 1537 I just don’t know if I can as much as I respect and trust you. I will listen to the cut you mention that Ian does some good work. How’s that. On the other hand CB has been wrong and missed a few bands because of his ignorance. Could ‘Foreigner’ be a case?
    Just listened to the cut. Not bad. Ian has a short nice bit.

  2. Looking forward to the Boston post. “More than a feeling…”
    Seriously though, some of those 70s radio monsters were ridiculously ear-wormy, weren’t they?
    PS. I bought Foreigner’s hits LP for the die-cut Juke box cover. True story.

    1. Oh for those far off days when radio play was the name of the game – once you develop an immunity to some of the naffness of it all, there are some cracking songs knocking around in AOR.

  3. Honestly can’t say I know any of their tunes other that that one you hear occasionally on Smooth Rock Radio For Gentlemen. Terrible artwork, though… that’s enough to keep me away from this… even if it was the best album ever recorded.

  4. Why didn’t you post this on Monday? Did you need some time to think things over?

    Got this one but it’s ended up lost deep in the collection over time. Might need to fish it out. This and 4 were my faves of theirs at any rate.

    1. Monday was a no go due to my ongoing battle against a Football Manager 2019 addiction. Oops.

      This is the only one of theirs I have, because I’m far too cool for AOR, you know?

      1. Why thank u kind sir! It is a brilliant track. So good Lou takes it over the top with the vocal and that synth is just killer…

  5. It isn’t just the back cover that is crap. That front cover is awful as well. Who said, “Let’s go with this drawing, it makes us all look really cool” because they should be taken out back and given a good headknocker.

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