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Class ?

Main Category: Arena Rock
Also applicable: Hard Rock, Roots Rock
Starting Period: The Punk/New Wave Years
Also active in: The Divided Eighties, From Grunge To The Present Day



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Year Of Release: 1977
Overall rating =

For such an intense picture of the Lonely Romantic Hero, they sure pick up some inane lyrics (and melodies).

Track listing: 1) Feels Like The First Time; 2) Cold As Ice; 3) Starrider; 4) Headknocker; 5) 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.

The year 1977 must have been really fucked up if this record really managed to sell the millions it is believed to have sold - although, if you ask me, I smell conspiracy in the air. Somebody convince me that the executive guys have been pulling our miserable leg all this time!.. Okay, so perhaps Foreigner was the best refuge for people who were (a) sick of progressive, (b) fed up with disco and (c) thoroughly unwilling to give in to the punk revolution due to compatibility problems (such as age limits). Here was a band that ROCKED, in a largely clean, inoffensive, and non-shock way, and it had these whoopin' huge arena-rock choruses and this lead singer who's so masculine and so romantic at the time. As an added bonus, you don't have to listen a dozen times to this stuff in order to "get" the songs, and yet they don't celebrate either consciously brainless "phallosimplicity" like KISS or subconsciously brainless "machosimplicity" like Bad Company. And to top it at all, there's pompous artsy synthesizers a-plenty and sensitive, highly emotional vocal harmonies all over the place. Isn't that, like, the recipe number one for a record-hungry public in 1977?

It has always been a great, inexhaustible source of fascination me how the Ian McDonald who plays such an important part on this album could actually be the same Ian McDonald who had once played saxes and Mellotrons on King Crimson's debut - or the same Ian McDonald that was responsible for the vastly underrated prog beauty of the McDonald & Giles album. Either the guy was seriously stoned when he teamed up with Mick Jones and Lou Gramm, or he was so goddamn broke he just couldn't resist the appeal - or maybe he saw the band as a practical joke all the way, at least until they started garnering millions. Then again, I could ask the same question about Phil Collins. Or Alan Parsons. Or Rod Stewart. When you're selling out, you don't really ask yourself why - questions like these would only take your time and energy, and you need those for selling out effectively.

I needn't tell you that Foreigner's debut is one of the blandest records I've ever forced myself to sit through. No, wait, that's incorrect. I never really forced myself. Fair is fair, and this music isn't exactly what I'd call "ugly" or "vomit-inducing" or "causing the author to engage in various lame outbursts of toilet humour". It's just your basic arena-rock, and one that's careful enough to stay away from all excesses. Lou Gramm's vocals are loud and proud, manly and vibrating, professional, but not very personal - nothing too charmful about them, a la gracious hoarseness of Paul Rogers, and nothing too stinky, either, like the hysterically dumb yelps of Mr Coverdale. Mick Jones' guitar playing is solid, and he intentionally renounces long flashy solos, going for structure and - yuck - melodicity instead of speed, rhythmic punch and technical gimmicks (I haven't been able to find one tricky special guitar effect on the entire record; they are actually purer in attitude than Bad Company!). And let's give 'em their due; they're actually trying to write real songs, so it's only natural that the album has a somewhat nice flow and never bleeds on my ears all that much.

At this point the stock of nice and kind words draws to a perilous close, though. The main problem with this record - and all the following ones - lies in its horrendous lack of that life-saving magic potion I call "adequacy". Now, in the original review of the record I just wrote "the hooks are rotten" and left it at that; but it wasn't really what I wanted to say. You see, the hooks really aren't "rotten". At best, they're "rotten" in retrospect because for Foreigner, the art of songwriting seems to have frozen in space somewhere around the early Seventies; all of the songs are defiantly "retro". But since when has that been a problem for me? Retro can be done great, and besides, with all the punk and New Wave acts coming up in droves, having somebody doing "retro" stuff and actually getting significant amounts of moolah for it would be satisfying in some ways, wouldn't it?

And the songs - the melodies, they're okay, aren't they? Nothing special, and if you're well versed in Sixties/Seventies rock, you'll be recognizing familiar chord sequences and, occasionally, (sub)conscious quotations all over the place, but that's hardly "B-A-D", isn't it? Verse, chorus, middle-eight, guitar solo, some emotion, some professionalism, what's up with that? Say, isn't it fun that I'm looking at the ten song titles right now and I can sing every single one in my head? "FEELS LIKE THE FIIIIIRST TIME!" "You're as cold as ice!" "STARRIIIIIIIIDEEEER!" "HEADKNOCKER!" "AND I NEED YOU! AND I NEEE-, EEE-, -EEEEEED YOU!" Fun! I can go on like this for a long time, you know.

So it isn't the isolated quality of these hooks that bugs me. It is the general feel of the record. These six guys come up with a bunch of simplistic, perfectly average pop songs - an area in which they have loads of competition - and seem to be passing them off like it were a Bizet opera or something. Everything, beginning with McDonald's symphonic keyboards and ending with Gramm's overwrought vocal deliveries, plays like cheap, fake drama. It doesn't help matters much that the lyrics are abysmal; any album that opens with the lines 'I would climb any mountain/Sail across a stormy sea' sung the way you'd expect Tristan confess his love to Isolda deserves to be knocked out cold in the first round. But I don't even need to look at the lyrics sheet to know that. The banal melodies, the fake jewellery of the arrangements, the "lonely idiot romantic" vocal stylistics are well enough.

And it's a pity, really, because some of these songs... well, I think I could envisage some of these songs to better effect. 'Cold As Ice', for instance, is interesting. There's the "chorus" part (the 'you're as cold as ice you're willing to sacrifice' bit) that's half-decent music hall, and there's the completely different signature on the verses which are a bit Elton-John-piano-ish, and the delicate crescendo and whoops the music hall again. But the "bathos", no, no, I can't stand it. Maybe if you had a different guy purring over this thing rather than bellowing, and got rid of the Guitar Storm... or maybe just redid it as one of these completely lonesome acoustic ballads... and, of course, rewrote the lyrics? See, there's potential, but they're not willing to use it. It's gotta be blasted out loud, because if it isn't, all the young punks are gonna shut you down. Ain't the right age for acoustic subtlety.

It's no coincidence that I finally settled on 'Fool For You Anyway' as the best tune on the album, because it's the only one that partially breaks away from the "power rocker / power ballad" formula. That's not to say I'm in love with the song or anything. But it's a decent, if at times also bombastic, country ballad that wouldn't look out of place on a James Taylor album. It even features some nice vocals from Lou the Poo - the sweet falsetto on the "and I tried to be so strong" line, for instance, comes out of nowhere and is a very pretty touch; and so are Mick Jones' acoustic solos, inobtrusive and respectfully quiet. And it's the kind of style that seems to be coming to these guys naturally and without too much strain. So why the heck didn't they concentrate more on it? And why did they have to "compensate" for its humble prettiness by going to the other extreme and recording something as maliciously hideous as the 'quasi-progressive' sci-fi blunder of 'Starrider'? Isn't that, like, one of the worst songs ever recorded by anybody on this star?

In the end, there are exactly three songs that, in my eyes, manage to not merge melodic mediocrity with uber-arrogant pompousness: 'Fool...', 'Cold As Ice', and the straightahead, unabashed barroom rock of 'Headknocker' (although even that song, the way I see it, does not even begin to deserve to have James Dean and especially 'Louie Louie' mentioned in its lyrics). The others I will refrain from discussing individually because the word "individual" might get angry with me if I tried to use it in a Foreigner review, and I don't wanna provoke it. Who knows, it might just run away to Florida and where will I be without its help with my Frank Zappa reviews?



Year Of Release: 1978
Overall rating =

It's kinda scary when you realize how perverse one can get with a good melody. But I guess that's life.

Track listing: 1) Hot Blooded; 2) Blue Morning, Blue Day; 3) You're All I Am; 4) Back Where You Belong; 5) Love Has Taken Its Toll; 6) Double Vision; 7) Tramontane; 8) Have Waited So Long; 9) Lonely Children; 10) Spellbinder.

I think it's fair to say that Foreigner reached a peak of sorts with Double Vision, little as it resembles Mount Everest. When all is said and done and the venom has been expurgated, I'll grudgingly admit that these guys could knock out a catchy tune fairly well, that is, until their place in rock hierarchy had been fully stabilized and they found out they could go platinum without actually having to sit down and patiently work out a meaningful melody on some sort of instrument. And for some reason or other, Double Vision offers more proof of it than any other Foreigner album I've heard, and by now I've heard almost all of them and living on government relief, so I know what I'm talking about here.

For me, the best news is that the collateral damage of the "Lou Gramm Effect" has been seriously decreased; the yuckiest part of the debut were these slow-moving, pompous creepers like 'Starrider' and 'I Need You', where the singer ruled supreme due to lack of arresting musical parts, but on Double Vision the stars have aligned in a more favourable fashion and what you really get is, for the most part, either mid-tempo rockers with decent riffage or moderately light ballads that incessantly try to stir up Beatlish associations, and the songwriting team is often competent enough to do it right. In fact, I'd say the album does not truly begin to suck until the last two songs, particularly 'Spellbinder' which, much like its phonologically associated cousin 'Starrider', is big, vibrating with cardboard passion, and having no redeeming features whatsoever, although, to be fair, 'Starrider' was uglier because it aspired to art-rock heights where 'Spellbinder' does not.

But the first eight tunes, well, I could badmouth them if I wanted to, except that badmouthing Foreigner is sort of the default thing to do and therefore kinda boring if you have to do it album by album. So I'll concentrate on the cute positive minutiae instead. For instance, there is a three-and-a-half-minute oddity called 'Tramontane', co-credited to Ian McDonald as the band's resident progressive rock dinosaur and for good reason: listen closely and you'll notice echoes of early King Crimson alright. (And even if you don't, you still get why I suggested that, don't you?). A nicely balanced tune, too - simple enough to be accessible to the average Lou Gramm fan, yet complex enough to appeal to the occasionally demanding art-rock lover, too. The level of, uh, the Beatles 'Flying', maybe. That looping synth riff is majestic alright, and 'Tramontane' is a pretty apt name for a song that's so chilly and cold in essence.

Of course, 'Tramontane' is still an aberration - a bit of indulgence shielding McDonald & Co. from the never-forget-your-roots crowds. The meat of the album lies in its rockin' material, and in that respect I'm almost forced to call the title track a perfectly written, if not necessarily perfectly performed, rock song. The verse-bridge-chorus sections are completely different but each one has an appeal of its own; they're so straightforward and defyingly formulaic that they end up reminding me of AC/DC (or maybe it has to do with the fact that if you give the chorus riff a little push it easily transforms into the anchor to 'Girls Got Rhythm'); and hoo boy, that's some mean guitar playing, too. And I may be wrong, but for the moment I'd like to state it clearly that 'My double vision gets the best of me!' is the best line ever to have come out of Lou Gramm's mouth, be it the lyrics or - particularly - the gutsy intonation. Why doesn't that guy growl and bark more often? I swear, he's much more of a 'headknocker' than of a 'spellbinder', not to mention 'starrider'.

The other big rocker on the album, 'Hot Blooded', was an even bigger hit, maybe because it was even more sexist and dumb (granted, Foreigner don't wear their sexism and dumbness on their sleeves like the already mentioned AC/DC; they roll 'em up the sleeves instead). Another piece of formula, another set of memorable riffs, but nevertheless simpler and more annoying, especially in the singing department (and on a very subjective note, I do so hate it when people use the word 'rendez-vous' in English lyrics. It should take a really big dork, too, to use it while being so hot blooded. For the record, I do wonder if anyone over the past fifty years has actually managed to score by inviting the partner to a 'secret rendez-vous'. Granted, the Foreigner hit could have rendered that possible). Much better is 'Blue Morning Blue Day', numbingly catchy and potentially quite a great song if you amputate the extra pathos.

But probably the main reason I'm so "hot blooded" about the album is a couple of ballads that almost get to be filed under the 'lovely' section: two straightahead, thoroughly un-disguised attempts at emulating Paul McCartney in 'Back Where You Belong' and 'Have Waited So Long'. In fact, if you do replace Lou Gramm with the actual McCartney, what you get is a pretty pair of numbers that could easily fit on any of Paul's later-period albums (later period because the hooks aren't immediately overwhelming). 'Back Where You Belong', in particular, gets to be tender rather than going for powerhouse soul, with fresh acoustic guitars and a synth tone in the solo that's mildly psychedelic. Moreover, it's got a heckload of sections - slow balladry, mid-tempo power-pop, and a coda for which someone had the wonderful idea to loop the vocals. Okay, you can call it a cheap idea (all you have to do is to loop the word 'long', paying careful attention to drawl out the resonants - 'back where you belonnnnnng llllonnnng llllonnnnnng etc.'), but someone at least had to have it, see, and besides, you know now how much it takes to buy my ass.:)

On 'Have Waited' the McCartney connection is even more glaringly obvious, as Gramm goes for a direct-on impression, replete with falsetto ooh-aahs and all the other paraphernalia (the lazy saxes are rather atypical of Paul, though, looking more like they come from a '73-'75 Lennon album. Well, that used to be called 'synthesis'). And I almost get to like the man that way. I only wish they'd have found a way to bring this synthesis to perfection by lifting the practically perfect Harrison-like solo off 'You're All I Am', sticking it somewhere in the middle of 'Have Waited' (so what if the keys are different? Art-rock should be that way!), and discarding the rest of the ugly song.

The bottomline on all this crap is as follows: Double Vision is Foreigner's most adequate title. You can look at this band - in its 1978 incarnaion - and perceive them as rude, uncultivated hacks riding on the coattails of their betters in exchange for a lifelong supply of crack; or you can perceive them as talented songwriters honestly trying to merge the spiritual and the popular, not minding a few extra bucks along the way. I, personally, think they were both; and considering the second aspect it would be criminal not to award Double Vision a few extra points and sincerely recommend that if you are a nice smart pop-loving guy/girl and have never heard 'Back Where You Belong', there's nothing immoral about downloading it every once in a while except for copyright violations; and if you're a notorious headbanger, you may find out, much to your surprise, that banging your head to the opening riff of 'Double Vision' produces much the same effect as banging it to 'Whole Lotta Rosie'. Even better, perhaps - you get no hangover the next morning. That's about all.



Year Of Release: 1979

Ian McDonald's last contribution to this abomination. The platinum boys of rock are back to throw in another batch of hastily written, poorly produced, routinely performed garbage which adds nothing to their already well-established legacy of two or three acceptable tunes. Well, okay, not exactly "nothing"; I'd be lying if I told you there was absolutely nothing worth hearing on the record. 'Women', for instance. Now that's a really fun piece of macho posturing, something of a cross between Lou Reed (I'd say Lou Gramm is consciously working on his Reed emulation here) and Mick Jagger ('Some Girls' springs to mind immediately) - but the best thing is that it's a really lightweight and unpretentious boogie, with a steady one note bassline and a really fun gruff AC/DC-like riff and really unnerving piano backup and all. Sure must have been fun performing this one live.

On the other end of the line, then, we have 'Modern Day', which, true to its name, sounds far more modern, with Carsish synthesizers bulging out of the speakers and a thoroughly non-bluesy soud to everything. Again, this is in full accordance with my theory of talent actually present in the band, but then again, maybe they just happened to be on a half-hour roll. And to tell you the truth, the chord changes in the song produce a rather banal acoustic effect on me - rather it's the intuitive realization that this is a bit too soft and personal to qualify as a corny stadium rock anthem which works.

The bad news, then, is that Head Games starts to really abuse the power ballad thing. Just as you've been moderately inspired by 'Modern Day', you get your face plunged in a bucket of artificial tears with the "heart-wrenching" ballad 'Blinded By Science'. From the moment I saw that ugly title - hey, according to me science is one of the few things you cannot get blinded by - I knew it was gonna hurt, and it did, but not because of the lyrics, rather just because it's one of those 1-2-3-4 things that... uhhh.... well, you know. And it's soooo pathetic, easily the most puffed-up song Foreigner did to that point. Geez, boy, Lou Gramm doesn't have a bad voice, how come he condescends to wasting it on this third-rate soap opera soundtrack?

Truthfully, not a single other song comes close to the puke level established by this 'Blinded By Power Chords' idiocy, but 'Love On The Telephone' is almost as icky (and I am still questioning myself over whether a line like "friday, sixday, saturday" can be considered violation of good taste or not. It all probably depends on whether that word got on there intentionally or whoever wrote the goddamn lyrics just thought it was kinda natural for sixday to come after friday. I mean, with a band like Foreigner, can you really count upon rational everyday conduct?). And everything else just recycles the formula to a tee. The same gruff rhythms, the same chuckling keyboards/heavenly synths, and a lot of enthusiastic choruses that take themselves pretty seriously because their authors are convinced they're pretty catchy when in fact they aren't (the verses aren't even considered attention-meriting by the band itself, so it seems).

If you wanna fool around and try to classify this material or something, then you'll see that 'Seventeen' pretends to be gross and raunchy, with a hard-rockin' riff, and 'I'll Get Even With You' is more of a "power-pop" number again, but unless you pay serious attention, you won't even be aware of the fact. I guess this is what some might call "stylistic diversity" for Foreigner, much as, for instance, 'Hell's Bells', 'Shoot To Thrill', 'Have A Drink On Me', and 'Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution' might be called definite proof of AC/DC's stylistic diversity (hey, a heavy metal Satanic number, a hard rock macho number, a sincere socially based reference, and a loud and proud rock'n'roll anthem! And they're all on the same album! Go figure!).

The hits... I'm not sure what were the hits on here, but wasn't 'Dirty White Boy' one? I do like the first fifteen seconds of the song - they sure knew how to get going - but nothing after those fifteen seconds, and then again, Aerosmith did the fluent rockin' opening better with 'Toys In The Attic' anyway, now that's a cool song. There's also the title track where a desperate scream "HEAD GAMES!" is supposed to constitute a hook, but I guess this might just as well be the optimal moment to shut up about the album and move to something better. Besides, I'm hungry (but that's not what a Foreigner fan might think, not at all!).


4 **1/2

Year Of Release: 1981

What a nice short minimalistic title. Can we say brevity is the sister of wit on that one? Well, more like a wicked stepmother in this particular case.

That said, I am still ready to award Foreigner with the title of "Best Band To Have The First Five Seconds Of Its Records Kick Ass". Okay, not five, more like a whoppin' fourteen. For the first fourteen seconds of the album, I'm in Heaven. Mick Jones captures a phenomenal groove out there, with a crushing cyclical riff that could have, in the hands of Accept or Judas Priest or any decent heavy metal band, transformed the song into a true classic. Unfortunately, fourteen seconds later it goes away, replaced by a major key generic blues-rock rhythm and Lou Gramm's usual hysteria. It comes in later, of course, but by that time the magic is over, and you're too disgusted to play air guitar any more. Oh, the song is 'Nightlife', but you probably knew that.

Because it's Foreigner's 4, you know, the one that got the most airplay and sold like gazillions of copies and yielded boatloads of hit singles. And just as a minor warning, the All-Music Guide review of that album was one of the most disgusting things I've ever read in my life. Yeah sure, Foreigner were at the top of their game at the time, but what game was that? Bridge or strip poker?

It is all about the attitude, of course. Essentially, once you've given the album enough listens (and Lord knows I have), some melodies start climbing out. And by the end of my first day with the record, I've reached the conclusion that 4 is indeed Foreigner's best album because every song has, like, a germ of a musical idea in it. It's not like these guys didn't know how to piece the chords together, in fact, for many of these songs they had pieced them together much better than for the previous three albums. There are even hooks in some of the material.

Unfortunately, in order to "convert" these songs to listenable mood, much work needs to be done. First of all, somebody ought either to teach the band to write better lyrics or teach Lou Gramm not to treat them like The Song Of Songs. 'I wish she'd come back tonight, like a star shining bright' - come on now, only the laziest, most illiterate critic in the world could resist the temptation to bash the band to hell when they seem to fall upon every lyrical cliche that has ever existed in this world. And that's only half of the trouble; the other half is how Mr Gramm, with each and every one of his intonations, tries to convince us like he's making some huge emotional statement with this pap.

Second, somebody should eliminate these forkin' synths. The most generic synth tones in the world, and this at a time when the Cars have already provided the "synth revolution" in pop music. Not that I'm saying using Cars-like synthesizers would have necessarily benefited the band, it's just that the keyboard work on the album is so boring and so dated it seems amazing they were so much stuck in the Seventies. And finally, don't even try to convince me (not that you'd want to, it's just a figure of speech) that there's an ounce of energy present in any of these songs. It's simply amazing how Foreigner have earned the reputation of a "hard rock" band with this fluff. There's nothing on this album that could offend the ears of your great-grandmother, unless lyrics like 'I want to taste it while it's hot' count. Wow, what an amazing, unbelievably mature metaphor.

Not even enlisting "Mutt" Lange to produce this album really helped. Sharpening and refining the already classic sound of AC/DC was one thing, and sharpening and refining the yawn-inducing sound of Foreigner is another thing - it just makes you yawn sharper. Oh well, at least, like I said, there are tinges of compositional solidity every now and then. Songs like 'Luanne' and 'Urgent' are moderately catchy, and the latter even adds an atypically tasteful sax solo from Junior Walker. The only song I'd call total garbage is 'Juke Box Hero'; probably irritated by the laurels of Bad Company's 'Shooting Star', they decided to make their own rock star anthem, only they took out all the negative sides (like dying from overdosing and similar little details) and all the melodic power, making a song that rests entirely upon a set of power chords and power screams. "JUST ONE GUITA-A-A-A-A-R!" If I happen to hear it on the radio one day, bad things are gonna happen. Boy, classic rock radio sure rests on some doubtful material.

And that's about it. I'm not gonna discuss the sappy power ballads or any other rockers - there's nothing to discuss. On the positive side, I'm pretty sure Lou and the boys thought they were saving rock'n'roll or something like that, saving it from the onslaught of New Wave and Europop and suchlike. So they acted upon a generous motive, you know. Now if only somebody would have come up to them in 1981 and reminded that true rock'n'roll wasn't about inoffensive mid-tempo riffage or pretentiously sung thrice recycled lyrics, I could be much happier today.



Year Of Release: 1984

I guess the only respect in which an epochal band like Foreigner hadn't really caught up with such pathetic also-rans as Pink Floyd and the Who until this album are the layout periods - but surely a three-year gap between 4 and this one should have resulted in their absolute masterpiece?

Some people actually believed that so fervently that they elevated 'I Wanna Know What Love Is', present on here, to the status of absolute masterpiece to end all masterpieces... some rumours actually have it that Sting of all people changed his mind about the band upon hearing this song. Yeah, it's not like Sting's musical instincts are revered that much in the "tasteful" musical community, but still - why? There's one really nice thing about this song - that five-note bass/synth-line that separates the tacts. It's really moody and even a little scary, and a good invention; but once the song dips into its overblown generic-power-ballad chorus, it just totally goes for banal shit. Might as well listen to the Scorpions, or, well, there's tons of candidates for that part. And Foreigner always had plenty of power ballads, so it's not like they're doing something different. Maybe it's that bombastic female backing choir that counts, I dunno. Doesn't take a lot of effort to get a choir to sing you some backup, not if you got the cash to go along with it.

No, really, the reason why this album gets the same rating as 4, even if there's far less catchy material on it, is that they changed their style a bit in the gruff rockin' part. The All-Music Guide may trash a song like 'Reaction To Action' for all they want, but there's no denying that Mick Jones' riffage on the number is pretty good, in the traditional flashy cock-rock sense, that is. In fact, a good bunch of these songs are just generic, but fun guitar-bass-drums rockers, with no "artsy" pretentions and no poisonous synths to spike your Coke. Better and more memorable than KISS, more hard-rockin' than Bad Company... nothing to go wild about, but some relatively solid headbanging material that urges you to bang it 'round, not much else. "High art" this sure is not, nor does it pretend to be. Like I said, 'Reaction To Action' is a mildly cool funky stop-and-start riff-rocker; even better is 'Stranger In My Own House', where they do use the synths, but only on occasion, to produce a scary atmospheric background (in the introduction to the sound there's almost an industrial feedback-choked synth growling). The chorus is really good as well; Mick Jones sure can have a mean, if rather primitive, funk-metal groove going on, and Lou Gramm screams his head off in the most positive way; hey, I've always said that guy had a good singing voice.

In short, the more they try to rock out on here, the better it is, because for once in their life, something clicks within the brain of Mr Jones and he's actually willing to let his guitar completely overshadow the dippy synth backing and you can tap your toe and bash your head against the wall and whatever. The opening 'Tooth And Nail' and the closing 'She's Too Tough' are a little bit heavier on synth treatment than the others, but still the guitar rules supreme, and there's no stupid sissy emotions involved. This is RAAAWK OUT, man, and the riffs are moderately good.

Unfortunately, whenever they reconvert to ballad mode, the shit hits the fan - that moody bassline on 'I Wanna Know What The Secret Of I Wanna Know What Love Is Really Is' is about the best compliment I can give on this section. Hookless pathetic crap like 'Down On Love' can only be listened to once unless you're an MTV-addicted robot, and while it's only too fortunate that a song called 'Two Different Worlds' does not deal with third world problems (hey, this is not a Sting record, even if I guess judging by his reactions to it he wouldn't have minded if it were!), that doesn't prevent it from being a totally forgettable piece of synth-addled bathos; Lou, you probably wanted to save it through your singing power alone, well lemme tell ya, not even Ray Charles could have done that. And while 'That Was Yesterday' was a hit and all, I just can't stand that hideous Casio sound which comes out of my speakers as if I were playing a third-rate arcade game. Cripes, at least you could have thought of a more complex melody - don't they teach similar passages in kindergarten?

Oh well, it's only too understandable that Agent Provocateur was Foreigner's last bit of big commercial success - big riff-rockers were going out of fashion, and the synth-driven ballads are soooo dated to their time, almost glued to it, I'd say, that I can't even imagine anybody who wasn't actively trying to be "cool" in the early Eighties still listening to this tripe. Can you?


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