Foreigner - 4

Foreigner – 4

87 / 100

No mention of Foreigner’s ‘4’ album in the context of the AOR genre is tantamount to sacrilege. And so it happens that GDM finally gets its act together and reviews this landmark album within the genre.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTIST: Foreigner
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: SD 16999
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: Atlantic, 7567-81486-2

LINEUP: Lou Gramm – vocals, percussion * Mick Jones – guitars, keyboards, vocals * Rick Wills – bass, vocals * Dennis Elliott – drums, vocals * Thomas Dolby – main synthesizers

Additional Musicians: Mark Rivera, Jr Walker – saxophone * Hugh McCracken – slide guitar * Larry Fast – synthesizer * Michael Fonfara, Bob Mayo – keyboard textures * Ian Lloyd, Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, Mark Rivera – background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Night Life * 02 Juke Box Hero * 03 Break It Up * 04 Waiting For A Girl Like You * 05 Luanne * 06 Urgent * 07 I’m Gonna Win * 08 Woman In Black * 09 Girl On The Moon * 10 Don’t Let Go



No mention of Foreigner’s ‘4’ album in the context of the AOR genre is tantamount to sacrilege. And so it happens that GDM finally gets its act together and reviews this landmark album within the genre. After three prior (and very successful) albums, ‘4’ represents a change on a number of fronts.

The band have reduced to ‘4’ members, with the departure of Ed Gagliardi and Al Greenwood to fellow New Yorkers SPYS, while Englishman Rick Wills joined the band on bass. There are numerous guests on the album: Thomas Dolby plays most of the keys, with other contributions from Larry Fast, Michael Fonfara, Bob Mayo (Peter Frampton‘s band), Mark Rivera (ex Tycoon), Junior Walker and Hugh McCracken.

‘4’ was also one of the earliest success stories for producer Mutt Lange, who would later find more fame with Def Leppard. The album was released in late June of 1981, and as we wind the clock back to that timeframe, you would’ve heard Foreigner wafting across the airwaves thereafter, with six of the ten tracks entering the charts. Some feat.

The Songs

The album’s first single ‘Urgent’, an upbeat hard-driving but radio-friendly rocker peaked at No 3 on the charts, with a sax solo courtesy of Motown legend Junior Walker. The album highlight is undoubtedly the smooth radio friendly AOR of ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’, a mega hit for the band and perhaps one of the best remembered ballads of the entire decade (notwithstanding 1984’s I Wanna Know What Love Is’).

The song spent ten weeks at No 2 on the charts, but could not displace Olivia Newton John‘s mammoth hit ‘Physical’ at all during that time. This track featured the haunting keyboard work of Thomas Dolby, who as we know, went on to a successful solo career. Not to be outdone, the band deliver a couple of cracking rockers in ‘Break It Up’, complete with stabbing keyboards, and the party rock anthem of ‘Luanne’.

Perhaps the signature tune of the band is the dramatic and aggressive ‘Juke Box Hero’, where crunching power chords from Mick Jones flies over the top of some brooding passages. Of course the chorus line ‘(he’s a) juke box hero, got stars in his eyes’ is stuff of legend. One of my favourite tracks on the album is the ethereal ‘Girl On The Moon’, which apparently was recorded on the very night and in the same city where John Lennon lost his life. A very significant moment indeed, and a story worth following up with Mick or Lou at some point.

In Summary

1981 was indeed a fantastic year for AOR. Not only were Foreigner doing their bit, but so too were REO Speedwagon and Journey, both amassing huge hits on the charts. The album sold bucketloads, and seeing Foreigner live during 1981 and 1982 would’ve been a must-see gig for all fans.

Appreciably, the band took 1983 off, to regather for 1984’s ‘Agent Provocateur’, whereby the turnstile once again started turning for the band. Probably in terms of importance for the 80’s era AOR genre, ‘4’ ranks right up there alongside Journey‘s ‘Escape’ and ‘Frontiers’, plus Bryan Adams ‘Reckless’ and a handful of other notable additions. A must-have for your CD collection.



Foreigner - Urgent (Official Music Video)

Jukebox Hero
Foreigner - Juke Box Hero (Official Music Video)

Entire Album (Select Tracks)
Playlist: Foreigner - 4 [Full Album]
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