Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ian McDonald join FOREIGNER for a REUNION CONCERT

History was made this Thursday (07/20) during a Foreigner concert at Jones Beach, New York. Three former members of the legendary band joined the band on stage for a night, celebrating old friendships and great memories.

For the first time in almost 14 years, Lou Gramm – Foreigner’s original lead vocalist, shared a stage with the rest of the band members as their frontman. It’s been even longer since multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and keyboardist Al Greenwood last played with Foreigner. Together, they performed “Long, Long Way From Home,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Hot Blooded.”

This is a video, shared by Foreigner on their official Facebook Page. Watch it and let me know what you think. I personally believe that Lou Gramm sounds better than ever – his voice is clearer and he’s obviously doing so well. I got quite emotional when I watched it earlier today and I just had to include it in my blog. What an amazing event!


References:
Watch Foreigner Reunite With Three Members for First Time in 37 Years: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-foreigner-reunite-for-first-time-in-37-years-w493475
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My TOP 20 Rock&Roll Solo Releases

Quite recently, I asked my Twitter followers what I assume is a very hard question to answer – “Which is your favorite release by a solo rock artist?” I thought it was a great question to ask because so far I think I have mainly emphasized on rock bands and their respectable careers and albums, putting aside important solo accomplishments who are equally deserving. Many people shared their answers and became part of this interesting online discussion (which of course was the basic idea behind this tweet). Artists like Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Roger Waters and Dio were just a few of the names, mentioned by my fellow rock buddies. You told me who are yours…now it’s time for me to tell you mine! I do hope you enjoy the following list and get inspired! Please note that these albums aren’t really put in any special order, except maybe the first one. Listing them is difficult…can you imagine ranking them? I just can’t …

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Don Dokken – Up From the Ashes (1990)

up from the ashes - don dokkenIt must be something quite special if I’m placing this album at the number 1 spot, don’t you think? Well, yes it is! Everyone who knows me is aware of how much I love Dokken so it was only natural for me to fall that hard for Don’s 1990 solo debut. In addition to brilliant and personal favorite songs like the ballad “When Love Finds a Fool” or the catchy rocker “Mirror Mirror”, this album features a winning team of extraordinary musicians, led by Don, of course – John Norum (Europe), Billy White (Watchtower), Peter Baltes (Accept) and Mikkey Dee (King Diamond and pre-Motörhead)! How can you not craft something special with so much talent gathered together to support you? Don is a splendid vocalist and songwriter and I will forever thank him for the great job he did. It took him 18 years to release his second solo album, which wasn’t available for everyone, unfortunately.  


Lou Gramm – Long Hard Look (1989)

long hard look lou grammIt took me some time to decide which one of Lou’s solo albums I want to put in this list and eventually, my favorite Lou track, “Just Between You and Me”, turned out to be the deciding factor. “Long Hard Look” is his sophomore album, released at a time when Foreigner was no more (let’s not forget that he did come back in 1994). I love “Ready or Not” immensely, but “Long Hard Look” is where I think he truly embraced his strong qualities as a solo artist. Also, he took in one of the most splendid guitarists of all time – Vivan Campbell, along with Dann Huff (Giant), Bruce Turgon (Foreigner) and many more great artists, all completing each other in the name of this beautiful AOR release. Later on, Lou did assemble Shadow King and The Lou Gramm band with some of those well-known members.


Steve Perry – Street Talk (1984)

Steve Perry 1Steve freakin Perry! Do I have to say more? Are you actually surprised to see this album here? Well, you shouldn’t be. “Street Talk” is a classic AOR masterpiece with songs that will live longer than the world itself. “Oh Sherrie”, “She’s Mine”, “Foolish Heart”… – all mesmerizing melodic rock pieces who introduced Steve as a solo artist who just knows how to do things on his own. Obviously, Steve had a lot of fun writing, recording and producing this album. I could feel how important it was for him to do and try “his own thing”, separately from Journey. He literally put his heart and soul into the making of this album. We all know he can definitely hit a note or two, however with this album he also proved that The Voice himself can write timeless songs and produce quite respectably. Cheers to that!


Terry Brock – Diamond Blue (2010)

diamond blue terry brockI became a die-hard fan of Strangeways last year; didn’t even realize how quickly I was hooked and how albums like “Native Sons” and “Walk In The Fire” just stole my heart and never gave it back. One of the main reasons why I fell for Strageways was of course, the vocalist – Terry Brock. He eventually left the band and joined Giant which *SURPRISE* is another one of my all time favorite bands! His first solo album was out in 2001 (“Back to Eden”) but for this list, I chose “Diamond Blue”, released in 2010 via Frontiers Records. I am a true fan and hold a sentimental connection to Terry Brock so to me, this album is perfect. The touching ballad “The Rain” became the first reason why I fell for this album…the rest was history; If you are not a devoted fan you might not be interested but in any case, this lesser-known album is worth checking out!


Jimi Jamison – Never Too Late (2012)

jimi jamison never too lateBut of course one of the most powerful voices of rock music and one of my favorite rockstars of all time, Jimi Jamison, was going to be on this list. Many of you know how much I love Survivor and yes, Jimi is the primary reason why. I have established a very strong connection with his music and it kept on going strong with his solo releases as well.
“Never Too Late” is the last solo album he released. It came out in November, 2012, via Frontiers Records (of course). No one knew that this was going to be his last release but I don’t think we could’ve gotten a more beautiful farewell than this one. The inspiring title, the touching words and and heart-melting songs are just a few of the reasons why I consider this album to be one of the purest, most angelic pieces of music I have ever heard. Thank you, Jimi for this…I will always love and miss you.


Eric Clapton – August (1986)

Eric Clapton - AugustI may as well just list Eric Clapton’s entire solo discography and call it a day. Eric Clapton is my favorite solo artist of all time and there’s not even a single album of his I dislike. I wasn’t sure which one to put on my list but I ended up choosing “August” because it was one of the first albums of Eric Clapton I genuinely fell in love with back in the day and in my opinion, one of his strongest, most confident releases from his later years. On top of it all, it features that phenomenal duet with the queen of Rock&Roll, Tina Turner – “Tearing Us Apart”; “Miss You” is an important song for me as well. “August” was produced by Phil Collins who was responsible for its funky, radio-friendly sound.


Billy Squier – Don’t Say No (1981)

don't say noI got introduced to Billy Squier through Def Leppard; he was the one who actually brought them to North America for the very first time on his “Emotions in Motion” tour back in the early ’80s! The rest is just history. I heard “Don’t Say No” and that was it! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is one of the catchiest, most uplifting albums of all time! “Don’t Say No” spawned a long list of gratifying tunes that solidified its position on the Billboard album chart for over two years! This interesting fact should tell you enough about its colossal impact on the music market. Moreover, every single from “Don’t Say No”, including “In the Dark”, “Lonely Is the Night”, “My Kinda Lover” and “The Stroke” established itself as a major radio hit, playing on every station, all over the States for the entire first half of the ‘80s. Last but not least, the album sold over 3 million copies in the US alone, making it one of the most-desirable and beloved records of all time!


Mark Free – Long Way from Home (1993)

mark-free-long-way-from-home-1993Mark Free fronted a couple of glam/hard rock bands such as King Cobra and Single but in 1993, he took off on a journey of his own with an AOR solo debut, titled “Long Way from Home”. The album is the ultimate catch for any melodic rock fan out there. It’s filled with gorgeous vocal performances, impressive hooks and superb keyboard details. “Long Way from Home” offers a great selection of rockers, among which striking tunes like “Someday You’ll Come Running to Me”, “Stranger Among Us”, “State of Love” and “The Last Time” are standing out with breathtaking melodies and lyrics. Overall, “Long Way from Home” is a bit softer and sweeter but definitely his best work as a performer and as a songwriter, that is in my opinion of course.


Alice Cooper – Trash (1989)

trash alice cooperNo surprises here! This album introduced me to Alice Cooper and it was the main reason why I became a fan. “Poison”, “Bed of Nails”, “House Of Fire” – all incredible classic rockers, defining an entire generation of fans. Not only that but my favorite Alice Cooper song of all time, “This Maniac’s in Love with You” comes from “Trash”, which makes it even more special.

“Trash” was a pivotal moment for Alice Cooper’s career; it came out at the right time and was crafted by the right people. Many guest performers and songwriters stepped in, including Joan Jett, Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler, Kip Winger and Richie Sambora. The results were stunning – “Trash” is the ultimate staple of the era and arguably, Alice’s finest moment.


David Coverdale – Into the Light (2000)

David Coverdale - Into the LightIn September 2000, David Coverdale released his third solo album, titled “Into the Light”, after he took a break from Whitesnake. I am a fan of everything he did throughout the years with Deep Purple and Whitesnake but I also admire his solo work just as much. I thought about featuring “Restless Heart” but since it was released under the “David Coverdale & Whitesnake” moniker (though it was a solo album), I decided to go with “Into the Light”.

The thing I love so much about “Into the Light” is the fact that David didn’t exactly embraced the modern-day characteristics of rock music and didn’t follow the new century trends; Rather than that, he released a classic hard rock effort, full of enjoyable AOR tracks that sound as if they were released in the ’80s, including my favorites “Don’t You Cry”, “River Song” and “Love is Blind”.


Tina Turner – Private Dancer (1984)

Tina Turner - Private DancerYou all know how much I love the Queen of Rock & Roll, Tina Turner; Not only is she one of my most beloved and close-to-heart artists but she’s a woman and a role model I truly admire and respect.

This album marked an important point in Tina Turner’s life and career. The messy divorce and Ike Turner were all in the past – it was time for her to shine and tell the world that she’s a strong and independent woman who just knows how to make great music! “Private Dancer” sky-rocketed Tina’s career and hit the multi-platinum status all over the world. Classic rock staples like the title song, “I Can’t Stand the Rain”, “Better Be Good to Me” and of course, “What’s Love Got to do With It” are a pretty solid reason why this album turned out to be one of the best albums of the ’80s! Not only that but she worked with Jeff Beck, Gary Barnacle, Graham Broad and dozens of other talented musicians, to ensure “Private Dancer” will truly make history.

What a triumphant comeback! I can’t express how much this album and Tina mean to me…


Sammy Hagar – VOA (1984)

Sammy Hagar - VOABefore Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen and released 5150, he hit it big with his eight solo album, titled “VOA”. Playing this album might give you a clear idea of why exactly he was chosen to replace David Lee Roth. He is a superb vocalist – we all know and love that about him. “Two Sides of Love” was the first track I heard from this album back in the day and it was enough for me to realize that “VOA” is an album that shouldn’t be overlooked (even though it is). “I Can’t Drive 55” is the lead single and one of Sammy’s most memorable and noted songs that kept on being relevant, even when he became a member of Van Halen. “Rock is In My Blood” and “Two Sides of Love” are some of my favorites as well.


David Gilmour – On An Island (2006)

David Gilmour - On An IslandThis would be my favorite David Gilmour solo album! “On an Island” was released 10 years ago but it’s still an inseparable part of my playlist. He took his sweet time (22 years) to record it but the results were brilliant. He wrote some of the tracks with his wife – Polly Samson, which makes it even more special! What can I say? – A gorgeous and delicate combination of instrumentals and soul-soothing tracks, proving that David is the real deal! Such a brilliant guitarist, knowing exactly how to both calm your soul and make it fly at the same time. The opening track, “Castellorizon”, is a haunting instrumental demonstrating his superb guitar skills, backed up by beautiful orchestral arrangements. Both of the singles, “On an Island” and “Smile” are dreamy and so easy to fall in love with. “Red Sky at Night” is my absolute favorite and the reason is, of course, the thrilling saxophone arrangements which are perfect for my tastes! If dreams can become music, this is what they would sound like! By the way, it’s David Gilmour himself who plays the saxophone on that one. Yes, he is as good with sax as he is with his guitar!


John Lennon – Imagine (1971)

John Lennon - ImagineThere had to be a John Lennon album in my list and it took me some time before I decide which one of his solo works I love the most; I ended up choosing “Imagine” over the critically-acclaimed “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” because to me his sophomore album sounds more atmospheric, it’s much calmer and I absolutely adore songs like “Jealous Guy” and “How Do You Sleep?”. The title track is legendary, no need to even comment on it. I remember singing “Imagine” when I was in elementary, or was it middle school…I don’t remember but what I can say is that this song along with the album have been in my life for far too long, making them very personally-relevant and close to my heart. 


George Harrison – Cloud Nine (1987)

George Harrison - Cloud NineI miss this sunshine so much.

When we talk about rock&roll comebacks, I always mention this album. George Harrison took some time away from his solo career and in 1987 had one of the most triumphant comebacks with the commercially-successful and critically-acclaimed “Cloud Nine.” George is known as the quiet Beatle but this album right here is everything but quiet! “Devil’s Radio,” “Cloud 9,” “Just for Today” and the smashing cover of “Got My Mind Set on You,” turned this into one of his best, most beloved releases of all time. This is the album that introduced him to the mainstream audience, making it a very crucial move for his career. Let’s also praise the input of Jeff Lynn who co-produced this beautiful piece of music.


Bryan Adams – Reckless (1984)

bryan adams - reckless“Reckless” is a rocker full of enthusiasm, energy and that was the main reason why I fell for it back in the day. The multi-platinum release spawned some of ’80s most classic hits, including “Summer of 69”, “Run To You” and of course “Heaven”. Not only that but this pleasing work contains one of my most favorite duets of all time, “It’s Only Love”, featuring Tina Turner. 

The greatness of the album lies in its simplicity – yes, I do agree that the lyrics are too ordinary and not at all meant to trigger a deep emotional response and yes – the melodies are not as complicated and refined, however this is a fun, rock n’ roll radio-perfect album that is meant to be entertaining, fun and enjoyable. Bryan Adams made history with this one, that’s for sure.


Gary Moore – Still Got the Blues (1990)

Gary Moore - Still Got the BluesWhat can I say about Gary Moore and this album? Words are meaningless! “Still Got the Blues” has to be one of the most relevant blues-rock releases of all time. Emotional, sensational, passionate, soul-touching – all that and way more!

“Still Got the Blues” came to life once again thanks to a team of exceptional musicians, including George Harrison, Albert King and many more. No wonder this turned out to be his most commercially-successful release. What’s surprising, though is the fact that the title track – yes that superb, worldly-beloved blues songs, barely got a top100 position on the charts. Anyhow…

I was always touched by this brilliant blues-meets-hard rock album and there was no way I wouldn’t have added it.


Phil Collins – Face Value (1981)

Phil Collins - Face ValueI put a lot of thought into which Phil Collins album to pick for my list. Obviously, I ended up with “Face Value” for a few reasons and no, it’s not just because his most memorable song “In The Air Tonight” is the opening track – this album is so much more than that track.

I picked it because it was his first solo album and because it’s a classic staple of the ’80s music scene. Not only that, but I adore songs like “I Missed Again” and “Behind the Lines”. Phil Collins emerged as one of the strongest forces of rock/pop music scene of the decade and this album was just the beginning. What followed was a long line of exceptional solo releases and numerous collaboration, turning him into one of the most networked musicians of all time! Back to the album – it’s breezy, refreshing, atmospheric and definitely something you need to own in your collection just like I do.


Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes (2013)

tom keifer the way life goesI’ve been a fan of Cinderella and Tom Keifer for a long time now; Honestly, I cannot even imagine having a day without listening to his unique voice. Tom is one of those artists I truly respect and admire not only because he’s a brilliant songwriter, but because he is an amazing human being, worthy of admiration.

In 2013, finally, after so many years of success, turbulence and hardships, he released his first solo album, suitably titled “The Way Life Goes”. It took about 10 years for this album to become a reality but it was worth it, believe me. Some critics claim that this is by far his greatest work. I cannot draw such conclusion but one thing is for sure – this rather intimate, highly impressive solo release is superb, from start to finish. I love “Thick and Thin”, “It’s Not Enough” and of course, the lead single, “The Flower Song”. This album represented Tom’s evolution as an artist and despite everything he went through, his vocals still sound better than ever!


Mark Slaughter – Halfway There (2017)

halfwaythere slaughterThis new release impressed me so much that no way in hell was I going to miss including it on my list! The special 10-track album (11 in Japan) hit the music market on the 26th of May, 2017 and let me tell you something – it hit it hard! I really missed that classic, Slaughter sound and Mark is just bringing it all back on this album – that and way way way more! “Halfway There” is a worthy progression and obvious artistic evolution for him but with a little bit of old-school hint. It was a pleasure for me to listen to it from start to finish. Rock anthems like “Hey You”, “Supernatural” and “Devoted” are just a few of the reasons why this album left me speechless and turned into a personal favorite. One of the most brilliant aspects of this album is that Mark was actually in charge of not only the vocals but he’s also the one playing the guitar, bass, keyboards and behind the orchestration as well. That should tell you something! This is clearly a very dear album to him and he put his soul, heart and every talent he has to make it sound as sincere as possible. Mark is a superb artist and taking full control over this entire record was definitely the right direction.


Hope you enjoyed my list! This is how things look in 2017… and who knows how my list will look like 5 or 10 years from now. One thing is for sure – the above 20 releases are very important and close to my heart!

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References:

I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the images on this blog are copyright to their respectful owners. Please note that the digital brand, “My Rock Mixtapes” is for rock music educational purposes only and is in no way participating in any commercial activities.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Album Recommendations: Shadow King’s 1991 Self-Titled Debut

I love giving life back to old-school rock gems by reminding people of their greatness. One of my favorite types of publications is “ALBUM RECOMMENDATIONS” because I get the chance to not only share some of my all time favorite less-known releases but I also introduce them to readers from all over the world who don’t know much abut these albums or don’t know about their existence at all. This week, I chose a special but short-lived band, named Shadow King because the members of this band (especially two of them) are very dear to my heart; on the other hand we have a pleasing hard rock record which deserves our attention. Let’s go!

Shadow King

Supergroups are highly intriguing, at least to me. There’s nothing cooler than having a bunch of well-known musicians, members of your favorite bands, teaming up for a project. You witness how pieces of different puzzles become a whole new piece and in most of the cases, the results are so satisfying! This was also the case with Shadow King. We have the founder – Lou Gramm, the voice of Foreigner, guitarist Vivian Campbell (Dio, Whitesnake, Riverdogs and now Def Leppard), bass player Bruce Turgon (Foreigner, Black Sheep, eventually the Lou Gramm Band) and drummer Kevin Valentine (Breathless, of Donnie Iris and the Cruisers and eventually also in the Lou Gramm Band); obviously there was a lot of talent in that band and under different circumstances, I’m sure they would’ve lasted for more than just a single release.

Lou Gramm had previously worked with Vivian Campbell and Bruce Turgon on his solo releases so the frontman knew quite well how to assemble a winning team. However, it seems to me that all members of the band were in some kind of a transitional period in those early ears of the new decade and that’s one of the reasons why I think they went their separate ways after this album. “Shadow King” ended up as an “in-between” project till the guys decided which way to go.

Shadow King were supposed to embark on an extensive tour and move on to new projects, however fate got in the way; Vivian became a member of (the greatest band in the world) Def Leppard; Lou and Bruce rejoined Foreigner in 1992 and they both, along with Kevin Valentine went on to become members of The Lou Gramm band in the early 2000s.

What’s in the past is in the past, though; Short-lived or not, I’m still grateful that they released this one album, full of breathtaking gems and glorious rock tunes.

The Self-Titled Debut

shadow kingI will try to be as straightforward as possible because when you have one of the strongest, most iconic rock vocalists of all time as a frontman, you can’t but expect the best. The most surprising thing, though, is that despite Lou‘s fame and worldwide recognition, many fans don’t really know this album and project even existed! Why, though? – The sound is maybe a bit too similar to Foreigner (well duh, Foreigner was founded by Lou) and people think they are just listening to the classic rock band; the time period was unsuitable – you know, the early ’90s wasn’t the best time to be a hard rock act and release an album that wasn’t “alternative”. Ultimately, I don’t know why people often forget about “Shadow King” but here I am, writing about it with the hopes of reviving it. And no, I’m not going to refer to it as Lou’s third solo album.

Most of the songs are written by the talented songwriting team of Lou Gramm and Bruce Turgon who skillfully crafted a catchy, highly enjoyable melodic rock playlist. Objectively speaking, the album cannot really compete with Foreigner’s earlier works, despite sounding a lot like a Foreigner album. Don’t be surprised – Lou was behind Foreigner’s iconic sound and classic songs. The difference is that now we have Vivian who changes the game for me; I may be a little bit biased but Viv is a top-notch guitarist and he can produce some of the greatest guitar sound out there.

The Songs you Must Hear:

Well, I am definitely recommending the entire album – from start to finish; however, if my words didn’t persuaded you to do so, I’m going to let you enjoy just a few songs from the self-titled release, to get a little idea of what’s going on (and why I’m so right).

The playlist didn’t get enough radio play despite sensational AOR classics like, “I Want You” and “Anytime, Anywhere”. There’s not even a single disappointing song on this record and I’m not just saying it for no reason. 

Have a listen at the beautiful melodic rock gems below and let me know what you think; I sincerely hope you appreciate the tunes and the album as much as I do.

What Would It Take

Once Upon A Time

I Want You


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Inside Lou Gramm’s 1987 Solo Debut Album, “Ready or Not”

Late ‘80s was a very unsettling time for Foreigner. After e series of smashingly successful albums, including “4” (1981) and “Agent Provocateur” (1984), things needed to cool down for a second before moving on to the next step. Lou Gramm and Mick Jones took some time off to explore their individual artistic strengths. That’s when Lou released the album I will be talking about – “Ready or Not”.

I cannot understand the pressures of the business; I can only imagine how turbulent and stressful it was for Foreigner to constantly be under the radar and asked when the band’s next big hit will be played on the radio. On top of it all, there always comes a time when egos, ideas and opinions clash, especially if you worked with someone for so many years. That’s why taking time apart and going on an adventure (in our case, releasing your first solo album) is totally justifiable.

inside information foreignerNevertheless, after Lou Gramm finished with his debut and the promotional activities and concerts he did come back (along with Mick Jones) to record Foreigner’s sixth studio album, “Inside Information” (1987). Unfortunately, that great album, featuring classics like “Say You Will”, also became the last album to feature the ’80s winner line-up, making it the end of an iconic, historically relevant era of rock music. Gramm did come back in the early ’90s (“Mr. Moonlight”, 1994) but then departed again. Foreigner moved on without Lou, naturally. It’s a whole different topic whether there can be a Foreigner without Lou Gramm, though, but will save it for some other time.

The Album

lou1“Ready or Not” was released at the very beginning of 1987 and it definitely signaled the arrival of a strong (if not the strongest) year for rock music. Overall, the album did make quite the fuss – a top30 chart position in the USA, a #1 hit single (“Midnight Blue”), dozens of concerts and happy faces, etc. etc… No surprises there – “Ready or Not” is as good as you might expect it to be (we are talking about Lou Gramm after all).  Numerous rock band vocalists of the era, including Peter Cetera (Chicago) and Steve Perry (Journey), for example, released solo albums so what Lou did wasn’t really that surprising. What also didn’t surprise fans was the commercial and critical triumph of the album. Lou Gramm and producer Pat Moran crafted some serious melodic rock magic and proved to be a winning team. The Foreigner vibe is still there – I mean come on, what did you expect? Lou was after all a huge part of Foreigner’s sound. Interestingly, though, there’s something unique and distinctive about “Ready or Not” which cannot be found on his previous work with the band. To me, it sounds a little bit more soulful and sincere, less sweet and even a bit edgier.  One more thing that impressed me was the guitar work courtesy of Nils Lofgren who was like a breath of fresh air for the fans.

My final verdict is that “Ready or Not” is a beautiful gift to anyone who loves and appreciates God-given talent and melodic rock, of course. Top notch production quality, superb guitar work and catchy, highly entertaining, full of life songs are some of the characteristics that make this album worthy of your time. In time, people forgot about it but I am here to remind you!

The Songs

One thing that truly frustrates me is that every time I have a conversation about the greatest hits of the ‘80s, songs like “Midnight Blue” or “Ready or Not” never get a mention. “Midnight Blue” is a fantastic pop/rock single which absolutely proved that Lou Gramm is more than fine on his own. The title track, “Ready or Not” is my personal favorite – those drum rhythms, vocal and melodic hooks took my breath away. Lou knows how to craft a beautiful ballad and he perfectly uses that gift of his on “Ready or Not As Well”; The stunning ballad “If I Don’t Have You” might as well be one of the most overlooked ballads of the era, despite its qualities. The excellent rockers “Heartache” and “Until I Make You Mine” are just a couple of the other tracks that back up my statement – “Ready or Not” is Lou Gramm’s purest manifestation of at his creative and artistic power and most certainly a turning point for his career. Don’t forget to play the songs!

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Ready or Not

If Don’t Have You

Midnight Blue

Listen to the entire album on YouTube:


References:
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Foreigner – 4

Foreigner 4

You won’t believe how excited I am to talk about this album. If you follow my publications, you would know that Foreigner and I go way back and my relationship with their music is very personal and very strong – I cannot think of any other band which defines me so much (except Def Leppard, of course). Since we have already established my unconditional love for Foreigner, I think it’s time to move on to their smashing hit record “4” which also happens to be one of my favorite Foreigner albums of all time! I would like to take a moment of your time to talk a little bit more about the album and the brilliant songs you can find on it. Also, I would like to emphasize that there is absolutely no possible excuse for not having this record in your personal collection – it’s a MUST and I urge you to go and get it if you don’t have it yet! If you love classic rock, you should know that “4” is one of the albums that defined the 80s and gave the music industry something to talk about for decades ahead!  


 

Foreigner 4Released: July 2, 1981
Recorded: 1981 at Electric Lady Studios, New York City
Genre: Hard Rock, Rock
Length: 42:10
Label: Atlantic Records
Producer(s): Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Mick Jones
Singles: “Urgent”, “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Break It Up”, “Luanne”
Personnel: Lou Gramm – lead vocals, percussion; Mick Jones – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards; Rick Wills – bass guitar, backing vocals; Dennis Elliott – drums, backing vocals;


TRACKLIST:

1. “Night Life”
2. “Juke Box Hero”
3. “Break It Up”
4. “Waiting for a Girl Like You”
5. “Luanne”
6. “Urgent”
7. “I’m Gonna Win”
8. “Woman In Black”
9. “Girl On The Moon”
10. “Don’t Let Go”

+Bonus Tracks On 2002 Reissue, Recorded In 1999

– “Juke Box Hero” (Nearly Unplugged Version)
– “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (Nearly Unplugged Version)


Foreigner CD.png


Overview:

Before we move on to the specific songs, I would like to say a few words about the overall sound and influence of “4”.
Foreigner’s “4” hold the #1 position on the Billboard album chart for exactly 10 weeks – this is a phenomenal success and speaks volumes! The album sold over 7 million copies in the US alone and naturally, it was certified as Platinum by the RIAA. Not only that, but “4” achieved some unbelievable success in Europe, as well – for that I can also guarantee personally because in Bulgaria, Foreigner and especially this album are quite loved and deeply appreciated! Tracks such as “Urgent” and “Waiting for a Girl like You” topped the mainstream rock charts and completely changed the course of rock music!
Furthermore, all the songs from the album are written and composed by Mick Jones and/or Lou Gramm. This right here is what I’m talking about – artists writing their own music and lyrics and producing something authentic and truly valuable. That’s definitely what I miss nowadays…

Also, we should not forget about the lengendary Mr Mutt Lange! I’ve said it before and I will say it again – when it comes to producers, Mutt Lange is the absolute genius. With his impeccable attention to detail and ability to just come up with the perfect strategies, Mutt Lange just once again proved that he is a brilliant mastermind when it comes to crafting music and helping an artist reach the top! Interesting fact, he actually contributed with some backing vocals as well – a producer does so many things for a project!

muttlangeproducer
Producer Mutt Lange
Foreigner - 4 1981
Foreigner in 1981

 

In terms of sound, “4” marked Foreigner’s full shift to hard rock. Their previous albums, “Head Games” and “Double Vision” established them as one of the most notable AOR bands of the era; however “4” was actually the album that gave them the ultimate ticket to stardom. With the help of Mutt Lange, who had just finished working on AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Foreigner were able to craft a very rare and unique combination of mainstream rock sound and one-of-a-kind sounding.
In this album, you can also find some of the most brilliant lyrics ever to be written in the history of rock music. Every song tells us a very alluring and colorful story and your imagination can’t but start working the moment you hear Lou’s voice. I’ve always appreciated the way some bands make your imagination go wild with their lyrics – it’s a very pleasant experience as you just dive yourself into the story and imagine being “the woman in black” or the “juke box hero”.
There are countless songs that explore the topic of achieving the dream of “becoming the ultimate rockstar”; however no other song is as exceptional as “Juke Box Hero”. The rhythm, the chorused vocals, the captivating sudden melody changes and of course the superb lyrics can provide you with the much needed power boost and you can indeed feel the energy running through your veins. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I play “Juke Box Hero” (which by the way is at least 2-3 times per day), I get chills down my spine – this song is better than any energy drink!

…That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn’t take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was one way ticket, only one way to go

So he started rockin’
Ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin’
Someday he’s gonna make it to the top…


 

Another song I’d like to focus your attention on is titled “Waiting for a Girl like You” which in my book, happens to the ultimate example of a flawless classic rock ballad. Since its release, the track has become a must-play for any rock radio and one of the main reasons why the album turned out to be so successful. When we talk about Foreigner and tearjerker songs, naturally “I Want to Know What Love Is” (which comes a few years later in their “Agent Provocateur” album) is the first that comes to our minds. However, if you ask me which Foreigner’s most defining ballad is, I would say “Waiting for a Girl Like you”. To me, this song has everything – touching lyrics, beautiful vocals and most importantly, the feeling of hope…

…It feels so right, so warm and true
I need to know if you feel it too

Maybe I’m wrong
Won’t you tell me if I’m coming on too strong
This heart of mine has been hurt before
This time I want be be sure…


 

At last, I would like to move on to the funky, upbeat and probably Foreigner’s most memorable and career-defining songs – “Urgent”. There’s one thing I love more than piano in rock songs and that’s sax in rock songs! Junior Walker‘s signature saxophone solo is the absolute point of delight for me – I can just listen to this song for days!

…Got fire in your veins
Burnin’ hot but you don’t feel the pain
Your desire is insane
You can’t stop until you do it again

But sometimes I wonder as I look in your eyes
Maybe you’re thinking of some other guy
But I know, yes I know, how to treat you right
That’s why you call me in the middle of the night…


 

Some other energetic, catchy, impeccably written melodic rock tunes from “4”, include “Don’t Let Go”, “Luanne” and my personal favourite “Woman in Black”. Just listen to this awesome guitar intro…

…I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation

Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


 

I will wrap up things by saying that through it all, vocalist Lou Gramm does his role in the most exceptional way one could imagine. I’ve said it before – he is without doubt one of the finest voices of his generation. “4” is probably the album which completely assured his throne in the category of the greatest male rock vocalists. Song such as “Urgent”, “Waiting for a Girl like You” and “I’m Gonna Win” perfectly illustrate his vocal capacity and I am beyond delighted with the way those tracks match his voice! Nothing more to say – his voice is everything!
The following years were quite turbulent for Foreigner, as Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones would often clash and engage in countless ego wars. Eventually, those tensions would lead to the band’s collapse. Nevertheless, “4” remains their ultimate career pick and one of the greatest rock albums ever!

Mick and Lou
Mick and Lou Together on Stage
Songwriters Hall Of Fame 44th Annual Induction And Awards - Backstage
Mick Jones and Lou Gramm attend the Songwriters Hall of Fame 44th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner at the New York Marriott Marquis on June 13, 2013 in New York City.

 

Credits:
Foreigner Official Wikipedia Page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_%28band%29
Foreigner, 4 (album) Official Wikipedia Page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_%28Foreigner_album%29
“4” Album Review, retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/album/4-mw0000189922
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual materials used in this publication. All the credits and rights go to the owners and/publishers.

My TOP 10 Favorite FOREIGNER Songs

Everyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that Foreigner and I go way back. They are probably one of the most important bands of my childhood and the first classic rockers I got into. In addition to the memories, deep appreciation and respect I have for them, their music is what has always been there for me. There are a handful of bands I can point out for certain as my ultimate favorites due to their music matching my taste and personality 100%…and Foreigner is one of those bands! Imagine my emotional state, when I found out that they will be performing in my native country and I won’t be able to attend due to studying abroad…!? I’m still devastated and I’m not sure I will ever get over it.

Tour concert aside, at least what I always had and always will have is their brilliant music I’ve been listening to since as long as I can remember. As I previously said, it can be so challenging to find a band whose music completes you in each and every way possible – it’s like they wrote all these songs ESPECIALLY for you, knowing exactly what you like and you look for in a song. That’s how I feel about Foreigner – they are just that important to me! Can we also talk about Lou Gramm whose vocals are EVERYTHING (at least to me)! His ability to kill those high notes and his tough, yet gentle vocal delivery are just a few of the reasons why I consider him as one of the most talented and notable rock vocalists ever!

Foreigner - Debut Album 1977…Of course, the fact that they are one of the best-selling rock bands of all time proves that apparently I’m not the only one who carries such deep affection for them. Not to mention that they sold more than 80 million records worldwide… Yes, to reach to such highs and succeed so massively, you need to have excellent musicianship skills and know how to make splendid rock tunes that can reach to and have a special effect on people… Well, they sure as hell knew how to do that! Throughout the years, they released phenomenal records, such as “Double Vision” (1978), “Head Games” (1979), my two personal favorites – “4” (1981) and “Agent Provocateur” (1984) and many more. The amount of exceptional rock tunes you can find on those records goes beyond. Even though, picking up favorite songs from their extensive music catalog has to be the most difficult thing in the world, I really wanted to list some of my favorite Foreigner tunes on my blog – songs that really mean a lot to me for one reason or another. Besides, I would never miss another chance of listening to those loved songs of mine. I hope my readers love Foreigner as much as I do and have a good time while reminding themselves of those remarkable classics! I decided to include songs sung only by Lou Gramm. I’m sorry, Foreigner and I’m sorry, other fans of Foreigner who don’t really share my view but to me the situation goes like this – No Lou Gramm = No Foreigner ! Thanks for reading and please enjoy the songs!!!


 

That Was Yesterday ( 1984 – Agent Provocateur )

You were the only one
The only friend that I counted on
How could I watch you walk away
I’d give anything to have you here today…


 

Cold As Ice ( 1977 – Foreigner )

You’re as cold as ice
You’re willing to sacrifice our love
You never take advice
Someday you’ll pay the price, I know…


 

She’s Too Tough ( 1984 – Agent Provocateur )

My girl, everybody says she’s alright
And I know that she’s more than alright
Well, she’s a hard headed woman
Got a mean attitude
I may have bitten off more than I can chew
I get a little light headed
At her altitude
But she goes one step higher…


 

Jukebox Hero ( 1981 – 4 )

He heard one guitar, just blew him away
He saw stars in his eyes, and the very next day
Bought a beat up six string in a secondhand store
Didn’t know how to play it, but he knew for sure…


 

Reaction To Action ( 1984 – Agent Provocateur )

It’s hard getting through to me
I’m truly elusive
I got my own point of view
I am the one of a kind
And I tell you l’il girl
I’m fascinated by you
There’s something about you
That makes all the difference…


 

Woman In Black ( 1981 – 4 )

I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation

Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


 

Feels Like The First Time ( 1977 – Foreigner )

I have waited a lifetime
Spent my time so foolishly
But now that I’ve found you
Together we’ll make history

And I know that it must be the woman in you
That brings out the man in me
I know I can’t help myself
You’re all that my eyes can see…


 

Waiting For A Girl Like You ( 1981 – 4 )

Maybe I’m wrong
Won’t you tell me if I’m coming on too strong
This heart of mine has been hurt before
This time I want be be sure

I’ve been waiting for a girl like you
To come into my life
I’ve been waiting for a girl like you
A love that will survive
I’ve been waiting for someone new
To make me feel alive
Yeah, waiting for a girl like you
To come into my life…


 

Double Vision ( 1978 – Double Vision )

Never do more than I, I really need
My mind is racing, but my body’s in the lead
Tonight’s the night, I’m gonna push it to the limit
I’ll live all of my years in a single minute…


 

Growing Up The Hard Way ( 1984 – Agent Provocateur )

He’s got nothing to say, he’s got no excuse
He’s just made that way, and he’s gonna stay that way
Like a dog on the loose in a firework display in a world of his own
No, no, no, he won’t back down or go running back home…


 

HONORABLE MENTIONS ….

 

Soul Doctor ( 1992, The Very Best … and Beyond )

I need to see the soul doctor
Before the fever begins
You know I’m searching for the soul doctor
When love is wearing thin
Doctor soul is in…


 

Prisoner of Love ( 1992, The Very Best … and Beyond )

In your book of broken hearts
You had my name now the story starts
We’ll never be the same again, I have known…

I’m a victim of circumstance
I’m the one that got the second chance
One chance that’s all I need, and I won’t let go

Now you’ve got to understand I’m ready
I won’t be denied
This lonely heart must be satisfied…


 

Say You Will ( 1987 – Inside Information )

I can’t sleep I keep dreaming I’m losing you
Feel so alone in the night, scared to open my eyes
I’m in too deep, I’m in over my head this time
Can’t get you out of my mind no matter how hard I try…


 

Urgent ( 1981 – 4 )

Got fire in your veins
Burnin’ hot but you don’t feel the pain
Your desire is insane
You can’t stop until you do it again

But sometimes I wonder as I look in your eyes
Maybe you’re thinking of some other guy
But I know, yes I know, how to treat you right
That’s why you call me in the middle of the night…


 

Blue Morning, Blue Day ( 1978 – Double Vision )

Out in the street it’s 6 am, another sleepless night
Three cups of coffee, but I can’t clear my head from what went down last night
No we won’t have our own little ways, but somehow we keep it together
You hear me talk, but you don’t hear what I say, I guess it don’t even matter…


 

Of course, I had to wrap things up with this song……

I Want To Know What Love Is ( 1984 – Agent Provocateur )

Now this mountain I must climb
Feels like a world upon my shoulders
I through the clouds I see love shine
It keeps me warm as life grows colder

In my life there’s been heartache and pain
I don’t know if I can face it again
Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
To change this lonely life…