[Review] Foreigner: 4 (1981)

The album that Rolling Stone’s Kurt Loder called “the band’s best and most adventurous album.”

Kronomyth 4.0: Foureigner.

Numerologists rejoice! The magic four is once more invoked, this time in a whittled piggy pun as Foreigner was reduced to a fourtet for their fourth album. The operative number at work here, really, is six million: the number of 4’s sold in the US alone. Credit producer Mutt Lange (Highway to Hell, Back in Black) with finding a perfect balance between the rock guitars, synthesizers and Lou Gramm’s estimable pipes.

Say what you will about the man, those two AC/DC albums, 4 and Pyramania speak for themselves as some of the best rock ever recorded. Lange’s production has the effect of turbocharging great rock songs (“Juke Box Hero,” “Urgent”) and elevating what might have otherwise been filler (“Break It Up,” “I’m Gonna Win,” “Girl On The Moon”). The real turning point for Foreigner, however, occurs on the ballad, “Waiting For A Girl Like You.” Given a lush production a la 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” Waiting introduced a sensitive side to a group that, only one album earlier, seemed hell-bent for lifetime membership in the He-Man Woman Haters Club. Like it or not, Foreigner was now an arena rock band, and you don’t pack arenas with teenage boys alone.

Of course a world tour followed, but then something strange happened: silence. Foureigner the Four-Headed Hydra was soon to become an animal of legend, not to be seen again for nearly four years, when they emerged with the mild (and merely triple platinum, pshaw) Agent Provocateur. Thus classic Foreigner stops at 4, but not a minute earlier.

Original elpee version

A1. Night Life (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm) (3:48)
A2. Juke Box Hero (Lou Gramm/Mick Jones) (4:18)
A3. Break It Up (Mick Jones) (4:11)
A4. Waiting for a Girl Like You (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm) (4:49)
A5. Luanne (Lou Gramm/Mick Jones) (3:11)
B1. Urgent (Mick Jones) (4:29)
B2. I’m Gonna Win (Mick Jones) (4:51)
B3. Woman in Black (Mick Jones) (4:42)
B4. Girl on the Moon (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm) (3:49)
B5. Don’t Let Go (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm) (3:48)

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. Juke Box Hero (“nearly unplugged” version)
12. Waiting for a Girl Like You (“nearly unplugged” version)

The Players

Dennis Elliott (drums, background vocals), Lou Gramm (lead vocals, percussion), Mick Jones (lead guitar, keyboards, background vocals), Rick Wills (bass guitar, background vocals) with Tom Dolby (main synthesizers), Larry Fast (sequential synthesizer), Michael Fonfara (keyboard textures on B1/B4), “Mutt” Lange (background vocals), Ian Lloyd (background vocals), Bob Mayo (additional keyboard textures on A3/A4), Hugh McCracken (slide guitar on B4), Mark Rivera (saxophone, backing vocals), Jr. Walker (saxophone solo on B1). Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Mick Jones; basic tracks engineered by Tony Platt; chief engineer: Dave Wittman.

The Pictures

Art direction by Bob Defrin.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on July 2, 1981 in the US (Atlantic, SD/CS 16999), the UK (Atlantic, K 50796), Brazil (WEA, 4006), Canada (Atlantic, XSD/XCS 16999), Germany (Atlantic, 50 796), Japan (Atlantic, P-10981) and South Africa (Atlantic, ATC-9780) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 6x platinum record) and #4 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Atlantic, 16999).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in Germany (Atlantic, 81486).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in October 1995 in the US (Atlantic, 82795).
  4. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in the US, the UK and Germany (Atlantic/Rhino, 78275-2) with 2 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-released on expanded super audio compact disc in 2001 in Japan (Rhino/Atlantic, WPCR-14173) with 2 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-released on expanded DVD audio in 2002 in the UK (Warner, 43669) with 2 bonus tracks.
  7. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-12564) with 2 bonus tracks.
  8. Re-released on super high material compact disc in 2008 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-13263).
  9. Re-released on remastered 180g vinyl elpee in 2013 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL 1-343) with gatefold cover.
  10. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee on June 16, 2015 in Europe (Atlantic, R1 16999).

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