Agent Provocateur (1984)


  
1. Tooth and Nail 2. That Was Yesterday 3. I Want To Know What Love Is 4. Growing Up the Hard Way 5. Reaction to Action 6. Stranger in My Own House 7. A Love in Vain 8. Down on Love 9. Two Different Worlds 10.She's Too Tough

 

By the time the mid 1980s had arrived, most of the classic arena rock bands had already been phased out of most people's play lists. Foreigner was really the exception. No, this album didn't do nearly well as its predecessor, 4, but not much did. What this album did have, is probably the band's best known single ever I Want To Know What Love Is. The song was a bit of a departure. Most of the rock elements of this band aren't present, and instead, we get a very soulful, heart wrenching plea that only the voice of Lou Gramm could pull off. In addition, it helped to have the New Jersey Mass Choir helping in belting out the chorus featuring Jennifer Holiday. The song was very well received, with even televangelists giving their approval.

The rest of the album definitely has a bit of eighties flare, but this was par for the course with just about any band that was trying to stay relevant. Fortunately, the band pulls it off well, never losing their trademark bite and/or great guitar riffs. This band always used a bunch of synths in their songs, and they really don't overdo it here, it's just that some songs such as Growing Up The Hard Way and She's Too Tough sound an awful lot like workout songs from a jazzercise class where there's a lot spandex, permed hair dos, and wool leggings.

Although Mutt Lange was a godsend as a producer for their last album, it probably made better sense for them to not try to replicate that sound here. It had been a whopping three years since their last release, and times and tastes had changed. Alex Sadkin is called in to co-produce, and he was a bit of an odd choice since he really only had worked with mega eighties bands such as Talking Heads and Duran Duran. Still, though, the combination here works incredibly well. Songs such as That Was Yesterday, Reaction to Action and A Love in Vain are all definitely very heavy on the keyboard and the synthesized effects, but the band manage to keep their brand firmly in place. A couple of times they go for a straight-forward heavy rock sound without all of the accompaniments of keyboards. The album opener Tooth and Nail is a prime example, and is a great hard rocker. Stranger in My Own House isn't quite as powerful, but it still shows off what made this band great.

There are a couple of filler tracks here and about, but mostly this is a very strong effort of songs that showed that Foreigner wasn't quite ready to fade in the sunset just yet with all the new styles of music coming to the foreground.

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