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Foreigner - Foreigner 4: Album Of The Week Club Review

Is it pop? Is it rock? Is it both? Is is good? Is it bad? Foreigner 4 divides the critics

Foreigner 4
Foreigner - 4

Foreigner 4

Night Life
Juke Box Hero
Break It Up
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Luanne
Urgent}
I'm Gonna Win
Woman in Black
Girl on the Moon
Don't Let Go

“It took about 10 months, counting pre-production," says Mick Jones, when asked about the band's fourth album. "Maybe the best part of a year."  

But this wasn't unusual. Foreigner's debut LP had taken nine months. their second, 1978’s Double Vision “about six months”, and their third, 1979’s Head Games, “probably almost the same again”. So Foreigner had form in that department. But 10 months? The best part of a year. Wasn’t that some kind of record at the time?

It might have been, the results were worth it. The difference was success. Real success. Let's-buy-a-private-jet levels of success. 4 sold seven million copies in the US alone, and in Waiting For A Girl Like You it provided wedding planners with a lifetime of material.  

For Foreigner’s fourth album is their masterpiece. Co-produced by Mick Jones and ‘Mutt’ Lange – the latter on a hot streak having done AC/DC’s Back In Black4 had a state-of-the-art arena rock sound that ensured its success.

There was heavy rock’n’roll in Nightlife and Juke Box Hero, and a raunchy R&B vibe in Urgent, which featured a wild sax solo from Motown legend Jr. Walker. And in Waiting For A Girl Like You there was sophistication in its subtle, drifting synthesiser textures, and an extraordinary emotional depth in Lou Gramm’s vocal. Justin Hawkins of The Darkness calls it “the greatest rock ballad of all time”.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Background

Foreigner were a success right out of the box: Stateside, their self-titled debut of 1977 sold five million copies and reached No.4. A year later, their second effort, Double Vision, made No.3 in the US – even climbing to No.32 in the UK – and shifted seven million copies. So when third album Head Games, released in 1979, stalled at No.5 on the Billboard chart and only went quintuple platinum, something was deemed to have gone wrong.

The producer chosen to turn things around was Robert John Lange, the man known as ‘Mutt’. Jones had been a fan of his for some time: “‘Mutt’ first caught my attention when he produced a band called City Boy." 

"I’d been impressed by the work he’d done on that band. And he had applied to do the Head Games album, actually. He came over to New York to see me, but it was just a question of bad timing for him, so we chose Roy Thomas Baker. But ‘Mutt’ was always in the back of my mind, so when he reapplied for the fourth album, that was it."

Other albums released in July 1981

  • Signals, Calls, and Marches - Mission of Burma
  • Beauty and the Beat - The Go-Go's
  • High 'n' Dry - Def Leppard
  • Pleasant Dreams - The Ramones
  • You Want It You Got It - Bryan Adam
  • Bella Donna - Stevie Nicks
  • KooKoo - Debbie Harry
  • Escape - Journey
  • Document and Eyewitness - Wire
  • Dreamtime - Tom Verlaine
  • El Loco - ZZ Top
  • The Friends of Mr Cairo - Jon and Vangelis
  • Girls to Chat and Boys to Bounce - Foghat
  • Marauder- Blackfoot
  • Night of the Demon - Demon
  • Party Mix! - The B-52's
  • Pirates - Rickie Lee Jones
  • Precious Time - Pat Benatar
  • Time - Electric Light Orchestra
  • The Visitor - Mick Fleetwood
  • Word of Mouth - Jaco Pastorius

What they said...

"In producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange -- fresh off his massive success with AC/DC's Back in Black -- guitarist and all-around mastermind Mick Jones found both the catalyst to achieve this and his perfect musical soulmate. Lange's legendary obsessive attention to detail and Jones' highly disciplined guitar heroics (which he never allowed to get in the way of a great song) resulted in a collaboration of unprecedented, sparkling efficiency where not a single note is wasted." (AllMusic)

"Given Foreigner’s commitment to hard rock, it’s a happy surprise to find tracks ranging from the headlong whoosh of Luanne, which sounds like a lost page out of the John Fogerty songbook, to the chicken-neck strutting of Urgent, with its screaming sax break (courtesy of the master himself, Jr. Walker), to the shimmering soulfulness of Waiting for a Girl like You, on which Lou Gramm’s seamless and delicately shaded vocal uncannily recalls Curtis Mayfield’s mid-Sixties heyday with the Impressions. There’s also rich, pulsing pop (Don’t Let Go); muscular, Free-like raunch (I’m Gonna Win); billowing vocal tapestries (Juke Box Hero); and at least one classic cruncher (Break It Up). Potential hit singles would seem to abound. (Rolling Stone)

What you said...

Philip Qvist: An absolute AOR classic - and it stands alongside Journey's Escape as the essential AOR album to have in your collection.

Urgent was brilliant; getting Junior Walker to play on it was a masterstroke. Juke Box Hero was a rocker, Waiting For A Girl was their best ever ballad, while the whole album was full of gems.

Foreigner peaked with 4, and is easily their best out of a string of great albums.

Jacob Tannehill: I am pretty sure that they didn’t know this at the time, and I am sure “Mutt” Lange didn’t know what he was going to become at the time, but man what a classic album. 

It was the dawn of the 80s. Nobody really knew what AOR was at the time, and this album along with Escape by Journey paved the way for melodic concise rock and roll. Five singles off the album! That’s unheard of. According to Wikipedia... the first single was released in June of 81, with the last single released in August of 82! This album had legs, unheard of now. 

Now the album itself I feel a small departure from their more rock albums up to that point. Wanting to be a little more commercial sounding can be good and bad. Foreigner was able to melt both styles without compromising their sound very much. Not a bad song on it. I love Agent Provocateur, but I’d say this was their last , most consistent album as the next couple fell victim to record label heads pushing them to follow trends. 

Opinion - I feel Foreigner is lumped into the same category as a .38 Special (the band). They were a rock band with southern roots, but didn’t fit “the southern rock band” mold. Damn good rock band though...

Foreigner was made up of Prog Rock musicians, yet they didn’t fit the “prog Rock”. Mold. Damn good rock band though.

James Praesto: So, after all the different albums we have discussed in this club, ranging from 60s brit pop to glam punk and depressing grunge… what better to follow up with than Foreigner’s 4? After all, it is the album that represents every damn thing that was dead wrong with radio rock in the early 80s. The cheesy choruses, the swelling synths, the perfunctory session guitarist style “riffs”, the never changing straight no-fill drum beats, the mullets and the snow washed jeans… It’s all there, and I have always hated it. With all my heart. Always and forever.

The album starts with the deceptive Night Life. It lulls the listener into a false sense of everything being all right. “We’re still rocking, buddy”, it seems to say, and you wonder if you remembered this album the wrong way? Maybe it wasn’t that bad? There is a loose semblance of an actual guitar riff in there somewhere, the pre-chorus build up is nice, and the chorus itself is not as sappy as it could have been. Maybe this type of music has grown on me? But then we launch into Juke Box Hero; the anthem for girls from Long Island who wore ankle socks with their pumps and wanted to be “wild” and “rock out” in the car on the way into the City. It’s fake, it’s cheap, and it should be a killer track for a soundtrack to one of those really bad 80s movies where some nerd kid in a cardigan has to fight back against the bad kids in the neighborhood, either through a poorly coordinated kung fu fight, or a dance-off, finally sporting a red leather vest to visualize his transformation to “cool”. What in the holy fuck is a “Juke Box Hero” anyway?

The 80s arrive in all its keyboard-laden glory with Break it Up, where the whole foundation is staccato Casio cords on top of welfare Toto guitars. You could fill an “80’s AOR Stereotypes” bingo-sheet with this one song. “Oh, baby”? Yup. Chorus on constant repeat until fade? Yup. “Oooh” and “Aaah” en masse? Yup. Synthesizers water boarding you with the same two chords until you feel like betraying king and country? Yup. Lyrics that can’t possibly mean absolutely anything to anybody? Bingo! It is such a shame that one of the better voices in rock goes to waste in such a fashion. Waiting for a Girl Like You shows what a great singer Gramm is, but it also shows how utterly misplaced his voice is in this setting. The verse is smooth and sultry, whereas the chorus is strained and forced. Just like every other song on this album, the chorus outstays its welcome much like relatives from Ohio with barely housetrained children that just won’t leave.

It's the 80s, so God forbid we don’t have a song with a girl’s name in the title. Nobody ever knew anybody named Luanne. Don’t lie to me, Foreigner. Where are the songs for “Heather”, “Jane” and “Harriet”? Either way, I feel like I am being lied to with the music as well. It sounds like a team of external songwriters got together and brainstormed up an album that would appeal to the radio-zombies, and then they enlisted the most trusted studio musicians they had on retainer, and got Mutt Lange to produce it all. It’s slick, crisp and clean. You can hear the detail of every instrument. But it’s lifeless and sterile. It is still just one step away from electronic drums and one of those key-tars.

Speaking of which… Urgent, one of the most overrated songs of all time, proves my point to a tee. I HEAR a goddamn electronic drum in there! Don’t tell me I’m crazy! Did Classic Rock post this album to mock me? Mike Monroe’s sax solo on Million Miles Away on last week’s album of the week was still ROCK, and here we get a generic sax solo from Junior Walker (no, not a member) that oozes “gun for hire”.

I know a lot of people like Mutt Lange’s production, but I was never a fan. He can make any rock band sound like a pop band, and even though albums like Def Leppard’s Hysteria and Pyromania were huge successes, they had no balls and no rock. Same here. I find no grit or honest rock’n’roll emotions anywhere. Other than Lou Gramm’s occasional moments to shine, this is a manufactured album, written to hit a certain target group and recorded with no heart or soul whatsoever.

Woman in Black could have been a cool rock song, if they had a real guitar player laying down a dirty riff on it instead. There is nothing wrong with the melody or the idea of the groove; it is the arrangements that kill the song. They constantly turn the dial from “rock” to “pop” without hesitation on every song. Girl on the Moon is a filler on any 80s AOR album, never mind this one. I forgot it the second it was over. Don’t Let Go sounds like one of those songs from another shitty 80’ movie where our hero finally gets that gig he’s been vying for, and gets to sing his song to his crowd, with bad actors pretending to play instruments in the background, and the credits roll after the confetti blows and he gets a kiss from his girlfriend – hair sprayed to the sky. Everybody’s dancing and smiling in their shoulder pads and leg-warmers. Great if you’re into that stuff. I don’t like bubblegum rock, so I am going to have to pass. Hard.

At the end of the day, Lou Gramm was always one of the best vocalist in rock (you asked for it, Brian Carr), and Foreigner sold a godzillion albums and anybody can hum most of their hits. It was the time for this kind of music. “All the cool kids are doing it.” The labels wanted this kind of music. The masses wanted this kind of music. Foreigner delivered like champs. Spot on. In my book, that does not redeem them from this pop rock atrocity. My own personal hell is that it is one of my wife’s favorite albums, so I will be paying my dues for all the harsh words I have said here. Fear not. (Edited to add: I actually asked my wife to read this before I posted it, and, yeah, I’m sleeping on the couch this week.)

Pete Mineau: I was a senior in high school back in 1977 when Foreigner's self-titled album debuted. Everyone I knew thought it was a breath of fresh air! A new "rock" band arriving on the scene in the peak years of disco!

I saw Foreigner at Cal Jam II the following year. Actually...I heard them there; we were so far back that the stage looked about 2" wide! Still, it was live rock'n'roll and they sounded great!

As they released their next two albums, I found myself less and less impressed with the music on them. By then I had moved on to the likes of Talking Heads, The Jam, The Clash, Elvis Costello, and others. When Foreigner 4 came out, I had long since passed on buying Double Vision and Head Games, so 4 came and went without any notice to me!

At some point in the Nineties, I was at a three day rock festival that featured Foreigner as one of the acts. The festival offered an autograph booth where you could meet the bands and get stuff signed. My buddy and I brought a bunch of album and cd covers and had a great time chatting with folks like Eric Burdon (he was pretty funny...kept going on about the Jerry Garcia shirt I was wearing! I asked him to sign an Animals' cd cover, which he did, then he drew a "Hitler" mustache on the picture of Chas Chandler, saying: "Poor Chas...he can never catch a break!") and the guys in Rare Earth. (I was telling them about a kid that I met years ago who was working at a gas station in California that told me his brother was the original guitar player in Rare Earth. Drummer Pete Rivera chuckled and said, "When you've been at it as long as us, you find out you have lots of brothers! Some of them you even know!") All in all, everyone was having a good time! Fans and artists alike!

Then Foreigner played. We knew all the songs...you can't help but not, what with them having been on the radio and MTV all the time. 

When they finished, I told my buddy I was going to get my "Foreigner" self-titled cd cover signed seeing how that was the only album I ever liked and owned of theirs. My buddy said he was going to pass all together on meeting them.

After standing in line for well over an hour, (the usual wait was about 15-20 minutes after a group played) no one came out! Then, someone from the festival staff came out and said Foreigner wouldn't be coming out to sign anything! The place erupted in boos and yelling! Fearing a riot or something, the festival guy ran back into the backstage tent where presumably the band was located! After about 10 minutes, he came back out and announced that only Lou Gramm would be coming out. He then walked up and down the line and said, "He will only sign one thing per person and you are not allowed to talk to him!" My immediate thought was, "What a fuckin' prima donna!".

I waited in line another 15 minutes as Lou scribbled his name and they shuffled people away in assembly line fashion. As the girl ahead of me handed her cd cover to Gramm, she blurts out, "I love you and I love Foreigner!, breaking the NO TALKING! rule!

Lou looks at the cover, hands it back to her and says,"I'm not signing that." 

The girl says, "But why? It's my favorite one of yours!"

Gramm says, "I'm not on it."

She had handed him Unusual Heat, the album Foreigner recorded after he left the band!!!

They argued back and forth for about 10 minutes with Lou saying he'd sign her t-shirt or her program but not that cover and her (by now it was obvious she was wasted) telling him it's her all time favorite and how she has been their biggest fan! (I think she finally settled on him signing her shirt!)

As I approached him next, I thrust forth my cover to the debut album and said, "I know you're on this one!"

Gramm looked at me with a scowl and a sneer, scribbled his name and handed it back to me.

"Hey", I said smiling before walking away, "she wasn't with me!"

The next time I saw Foreigner was about five or six years ago. They were playing the local casino. I worked at a car dealership that provided vehicles to the casino for the artists to use. In exchange, they offered us comp tickets to the shows.

As my coworkers and I were watching the show, my buddy's wife leaned over and asked me, "which one of them is a member of the original band?". As I looked up at the stage to point out Mick Jones to her, I realized he was nowhere to be seen! As they introduced the members of the band, it was confirmed: We were listening to a glorified cover band!!! Thank God they were comp tickets!!! (I do feel bad for the folks that paid top dollar for that show, but I'd bet over 95% of them didn't even know what they were seeing/hearing!)

The best review of 4 that I read on here compares it to an 80s movie sound track! I agree wholeheartedly! I'd rate it a 1.5 out of 5! I've seen that flick too many times!

Michael Böcher: This is one of the greatest classics of all time. There is no bad track on it. And it was a time at which Mutt Lange helped bands to improve their unique sound, not to bands sound like Mutt like later... I love this album because it was my first real rock album I liked at the age of 11. Woman in Black is one of many stand out tracks beside the singles...

Joe Cogan: The epitome of slick, soulless, formulaic corporate rock. No thanks.

Neil Wilson: Sorry but after three ripper albums the dreaded "let's sell out and make more money" attitude took over and they went AOR and won more fans but lost me...

John Davidson: I had an EP or two singles.. One with Cold as Ice, the other with Hot Blooded but beyond that Foreigner never really did it for me.

Their hair was too neat, their jeans were too pressed and they sounded like a blow dried Bad Company. 

It wasn't a classic year for metal, with NWOBHM stumbling, the 70s icons and punk also on the wain, but we still some decent albums: Rush - Moving Pictures; Iron Maiden - Killers; UFO - The Wild The Willing And The Innocent; and Blue Oyster Cult's - Fire Of Unknown Origin (to name but four).

Foreigner 4 however was the start of Stepford Rock. Utterly ubiquitous and lacking anything one could describe as heart or soul.

Ian Mears: Now this is a great album delivered at the right time to stop Foreigner falling by the wayside, which they did years later once they lost the stunning vocals of Lou Gramm. I saw them twice on the 4 tour, the one-off at the Hammersmith Odeon (supported by the excellent .38 Special) wasn't that great, but by the time they got around to the NEC Birmingham, they really were a tight unit. In fact I found the t-shirt the other day!

Iain Macaulay: OMFG! Classic Rock? I’m sorry, but, come on, you’re having a laugh? Right..? Yeah...? Oh.... well, so much for thinking Brothers in Arms would be the low point in me writing a scathing review. Little did I anticipate we’d stoop to this level of over-produced, undynamic mediocrity. Insipid and uninspired faux rock for the yuppie pop masses is what it is, complete with that awful 80's processed movie score drum sound and safe ‘pop’ rock guitar tone. 

The sound of big money, skyscraper, America. Fake leather, fake tits and fake music topped with big, big, hair sprayed mullets. And yes, before you ask, I did listen to it... all 42 minutes... desperate to skip through the tracks but determined to stay the course. But hey, you can’t please everyone. I’m so glad James Praesto has done such a clinical autopsy on this as it saves me from getting any more dismayed by writing. Here’s to next weeks listening pleasure. And please, not another album from 1981. It wasn’t exactly known as a high water mark in rock history, now was it?

Roland Bearne: 4 is a "Life Soundtrack" album for me. One of those which will forever be etched into the massive late-teenage period. High School romances. Beers and parties with your mates. Juke Box Hero blasting out of the car stereo as you hang out at the lake in that last crucial summer before Uni. My reaction to this album is emotional. Is it any good? Couldn't give a monkey's! (Also the first gig I saw on arriving in London, it was the tour for Agent but what the heck. I was happy!)

Uli Hassinger: Sensational album with songwriting on a superior level. All the songs from one to ten are great and the album is very varied. Uptempo rockers and melting ballads. My favourite tunes are Woman In Black, I'm Gonna Win and Don't Let Go. The album is an all-time classic which is shown by the huge record sales. Half the songs of the album were in the charts in these days. Their best album followed by Head Games. For me 10/10.

Kev Moore: One of the finest rock albums ever made. The quality and immediacy of the song writing is stunning, for possible singles, it was approaching Thriller territory. Lou Gramm is a vocal tour de force on this album. Juke Box Hero is jaw-dropping- Paul Rodgers on steroids. But the real stroke of genius, one that was not always immediately obvious, was the recruitment of Thomas Dolby to weave his contemporary magic in and around the album. It was hard-hitting classic rock, but it sounded fresh and up to date. Mick Jones, take a bow, you created a masterpiece.

Mike Bruce: Maybe I just need to invest more time in Foreigner but for me they're classic "buy the greatest hits" material. I'm only familiar with the Lou Gramm period and for me most of those albums have some cracking songs but not enough to make them indispensable. That said the killer to filler ratio on 4 almost tips in the right direction. Side one is really good with Juke Box Hero an absolute classic. Luanne however illustrates some of the problem I have with music like this. It tries to be all things to all men chasing an audience. It's no stretch to imagine Bon Jovi or Rick Springfield playing it and with a twist, Belinda Carlisle or Shania Twain.

But then Foreigner win me back with the magnificent Urgent. Which, so the story goes, proves that even pished Junior Walker was a hell of a player.

At maybe only 6 out of 10, unless you are a completist, go for the Best Of.

Kingsley Jayasekera: I was a big fan but Foreigner were very hit and miss. At their best great catchy tunes, at their worst just bland. As to 4 solid production pushes it up a notch or two. You hear that on Urgent which is an unremarkable song that is transformed into a great song. Similarly Nightlife is punchy but no where near as good as a song like Dirty White Boy - it just sounds a whole lot better. The best track is Juke Box Hero which has Mutt’s hands all over it as it packs in the AC/DC style shock and awe. I saw them on the 4 tour at Hammersmith and they were fab. Mick Jones knew the crowd he’d get and they really rocked that night (I pity anyone who came just because they loved the single Waiting For A Girl Like You)

Jim Husk: Although I like this album and it was a huge seller for them I still prefer the freshness of their first two albums, especially when they found the airwaves in the middle of the disco era, no easier accomplishment when radio was the only way to hear new material back then. And I love Lou Gramms voice.

Robert Dunn: I think I am going to have to go all Dewey Finn on this one. Foreigner play what I would call medium pop-rock as opposed to hard rock, heavy metal, prog, neo-classical or whatever. Styx would be light pop-rock, heavy pop-rock would be some later Rainbow, possibly Bon Jovi. Got that? It's important to understand the difference, because it helps to explain why Ritchie Blackmore, craving commercial success, wanted Rainbow to sound more like Foreigner but didn't quite manage it. Wrong kind of rock you see. Anyway I enjoyed Night Life more than I did before, and still mistrust any song that mentions 'six-strings', but for me this is a classic example of a band trying to make rock commercial by adding rock elements to pop songs rather than adding pop elements to rock songs. If you see what I mean.

Glenn Bannister: With the benefit of time passed, simply knowing that Mutt Lange was involved tells us that this is going to be glossy and not a true representation of the band sound. But does that stop this being glorious, hell no. 

The album credits four separate people for keyboards, two of which are labelled 'textures', and that's a fair assessment, there's more than a dusting of keyboards but they're not bombastic and generally fill out the sound. And then there's the saxophone. Urgent especially benefits greatly from this and it's my favourite track on the album.

There's an instant familiarity about the tracks, helped by repetitive choruses (Luanne I reckon gets 25 mentions and there's plenty of others in double figures), but it certainly encourages a singalong. 

When it comes to the big ballad, I find Waiting For A Girl Like You falls just the right side of slushy sentimentality and is so superior to I Want To Know What Love Is - a bigger hit, but a song to induce instant vomitting. 

Like some other reviewers, this album and Journey's Escape represent the pinnacle of AOR to my ears, and there's a fair drop to the next best - including subsequent work by both of these bands.

Carl Black: Have a work colleague, Derek, who sits behind me in the office who loves classic rock and always ask me what the next Classic Rock Album Of The Week is going to be. When I told him it was Foreigner, he said to me that he remembers driving in his Opal Mantra, windows down, streaks in his hair and feeling like he was a dog with two dicks. 

I did have a preconception of this album and I felt that bands such as Toto, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner were all cracked out of the same mould. Same old dusty riffs that were appealing to mainstream America rock radio. However when I listened to this album I really enjoyed it. I thought they were more rocky than REO Speedwagon and Toto. They had plenty of guitar riffs and felt that they were hugely influenced by Kiss. Derek said to me I would probably rate this album, a 5 or a 6. Well Derek, you underestimated me. A good 7 out of 10 for the happy feeling I felt within. Derek did say that he always skipped Waiting For A Girl Like You and I have to say this is the only song that I remember from the album. I would do the same on this album. I just wish I had streaks in hair and an Opal mantra.

Mike Knoop: I loved 4 (and all of Foreigner's previous albums) when it came out, but haven't really thought about it, much less listened to it in 30+ years. 

For the most part, it's still enjoyable. Part of it is nostalgia, sure, because there aren't "rock" bands like Foreigner anymore, but also because commercial rock sold boatloads for a reason and Foreigner was one of the best at getting an earworm to burrow into your cerebrum. 

Night Life launches the album into the same hard rock stratosphere they reached on Head Games, then the band doubles down on the RAWK with Jukebox Hero with its searing guitar solo. And speaking of solos, Junior Walker's sax solo on Urgent should be delivered in a brown paper wrapper, a naught little cherry on top of an already randy cake. Luanne has to be one of most upbeat stalker anthems ever. Same with the doo-wop breakup track, Don't Let Go. The real dark horse, however, is the ballad Girl on the Moon, a real surprise from a band that generally doesn't traffic in nuance or subtlety. It deserved better than being the B-side to Urgent.

The main weakness of 4 is the lyrics. Mick Jones never met a cliche he didn't like. Sometimes it works, like on Jukebox Hero or Urgent, but it undermines other songs like Woman In Black or I'm Gonna Win. There are lines in Waiting for a Girl Like You that still make me cringe - even while I'm singing along. And Break It Up has to have one of the most inane choruses ever written.

They literally* don't make albums like 4 anymore. A lovely visit with old friends before the modern world intrudes again.

&Yes, I'm using "literally" correctly. There is no band with a sound like Foreigner (or Journey or Bad Company, Boston, Styx, REO Speedwagon, etc.) anymore. And going through hours of tape to splice together the perfect solo? Forget about it!

Brian Carr: I think this is the second CRAotW choice that I have on vinyl. Not sure if I bought it or someone in the family did. I think it was great when I was a kid, but not an album I’ve listened to for decades, so it was a cool choice so maybe I could figure out why.

If I don’t like a singer, it is usually hard for me to like a band. Lou Gramm has a great voice, so I should totally dig Foreigner. But I hardly ever choose to listen to them. Their hits are ubiquitous, so I often hear them without choosing. I don’t despise Foreigner, but I doubt I’ve ever reached for the radio dial to crank it up saying “Awesome! A Foreigner song!” (That was kind of weird just typing that...) So maybe I don’t like them because they’re overplayed.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the guitar is the main instrument in rock music. While it is present on 4, sonically the album feels like a keyboard album with a side of guitar rather than the other way around. But there is very little guitar work on 4 that strikes me as interesting, which leads me to my personal Foreigner conclusion.

They’re just so bland to my ears. The songs are catchy, I guess, but boring. The riffs are ok, but boring. Even the tunes that aren’t on the radio every hour - the album tracks like Night Life and Woman in Black that I’d usually gravitate toward are kind of meh. To me, the best song, Girl on the Moon, is buried at the end.

I always hated the phrase “corporate rock.” Many that are thrown under that label, such as Journey, Styx, Boston and Loverboy (do they qualify?) are bands that I like a lot and I believe the term is designed to diminish something that happens to sell a lot of copies. That said, when I listened to Foreigner’s 4, I can almost understand where that derision comes from.

Final Score: 7.40 ⁄10 (262 votes cast, with a total score of 1939)

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