Foreigner (1977)


  
1. Feels Like the First Time 2. Cold as Ice 3. Starrider 4. Headknocker 5. The Damage is Done 6. Long, Long Way From Home 7. Woman, Oh Woman 8. At War With the World 9. Fool For You Anyway 10.I Need You

 

Probably the biggest band ever that is synonymous with the term "arena rock". These guys made it big quick, and stayed big for many years, yet they were probably one of the most faceless, indescribable bands ever. How would you describe them? What exactly was it that differentiated them from every other arena rocker in the late 70s and early 80s? Well, the magic in this band revolved around guitarist Mick Jones and lead singer Lou Gramm, who were also the main writers in the band. Mick Jones was never that great of a guitar player in terms of technique, but he could write one helluva catchy riff - which he did many a time. Then you had Lou Gramm, whose vocals weren't that eclectic nor unique, but he seemed to be able to belt out top 40 rockers better than just about anyone. His voice was made for rock and roll. Together, the two were a magic recipe. Whenever one was missing from the equation, the seams would definitely be apparent.

Sadly, this was one of those bands that never really kept a consistent lineup for very long. In fact, Mick Jones is the only member to be featured throughout the band's entirety. Other than Jones and Gramm, the other members are quite inconsequential, and no one would recognize the guys if they were walking down the street.

Speaking of band members, there are six of them here (3 American, 3 English - hence the band name). Listening to the album shows that this number is a tad too high. We have too many instruments cluttering to be heard - especially keyboards and synthesizers. You can tell it was 1977, when arena rockers were experimenting with the overpowering synthesizer.

We must remember, though, that this was the band's first album, so it should be expected that there were growing pains that would be inevitable. The sins are minor. You can't go wrong with a debut that features such classics as Cold as Ice, Feels Like the First Time, and, to a lesser extent, Long Long Way From Home. The rest of the album doesn't feature material quite as strong as these three, but there's plenty to enjoy. Songs such as The Damage is Done and Fool For You Anyway remain fresh many years later.

Unfortunately, Mick Jones would take a stab at lead vocals from time to time on the earliest records, and the overall effect was too jarring. It's not that he's not a good singer - he's quite respectable. The problem is that his smooth, dreamy English voice is just too big of a contrast from Gramm's trademark pipes to compliment the songs in any significant way. We hear this on songs Woman, Oh Woman and Starrider. Again, it doesn't help when those two songs are chocked filled with synthesized accompaniment as mentioned earlier.

So the album might not have aged as well as some of the band's later material, but it's still overall very strong. The fact that you have a couple of band classics that everyone still loves today, makes for a very solid debut.

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