Monday, June 27, 2011

The #44 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"4" by Foreigner

One by one, the numbers get smaller and the albums get bigger.  We are up to #44.

Foreigner had put out three quality albums before this one and they were already superstars.  But when they got Robert "Mutt" Lange to produce their fourth album, they outdid themselves.  Ian McDonald and Al Greenwood had left the group, so there was some question how the group would fare.  Lange engineered a rougher edge to their songs and they came up with the album of their careers.  The album went to #1 and spent 10 weeks there, but also was at #2 for 5 weeks and #3 for 5 more weeks--20 weeks in the Top 3.  All told, 4 spent an impressive 33 weeks in the Top 10 and 81 on the album chart.  To date, it has sold 6 million copies and has an outstanding Track Record* of 9.15.

"Waiting For a Girl Like You" never reached #1, but it was one of the top #2 songs in the Rock Era.  "Urgent" was a smash from Day One.  "Juke Box Hero" is one of the Top Underrated Songs of the Rock Era and "Break It Up" and "Luanne" were also released as a single.  I'm hard pressed to come up with a song that is even "average" on this album; if I had to I suppose I would list "Don't Let Go".  Everything else is very good to excellent".  "Night Life" leads off the album and is a great rocker. "I'm Gonna' Win", "Woman in Black" are all rockers while "Girl on the Moon" is a quality ballad.  Those songs all received airplay, one of the key factors in the formula to determine The Top 100 Albums of All-Time*.

But great airplay isn't enough to land an album at #44.  Foreigner was nominated for the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Group; 4 was nominated for Favorite Album at the American Music Awards and International Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.

1.    "Night Life" (Jones, Gramm) --3:48
2.    "Juke Box Hero" (Gramm, Jones) --4:18
3.    "Break It Up" (Jones) --4:11
4.    "Waiting for a Girl Like You" (Jones, Gramm) --4:49
5.    "Luanne" (Gramm, Jones) --3:25
6.    "Urgent" (Jones) --4:29
7.    "I'm Gonna' Win" (Jones) --4:51
8.    "Woman in Black" (Jones) --4:42
9.    "Girl on the Moon" (Jones, Gramm) --3:49
10.  "Don't Let Go" (Jones, Gramm) --3:48

As mentioned above, keyboardist McDonald and saxophone player Greenwood left the group prior to this album.  Foreigner decided to use a collection of musicians on this album to achieve the sound and kept their core at:  Lou Gramm (lead vocal and percussion), Mick Jones (guitar, keyboards, background vocals), bassist and vocalist Rick Wills and drummer and vocalist Dennis Elliott.

Junior Walker plays the amazing sax solo in "Urgent", Mark Rivera also plays sax on the album, Thomas Dolby and Larry Fast played synthesizers, Hugh McCracken played slide guitar and Michael Fonfara and Bob Mayo played keyboards.  Ian Lloyd and Lange contribute background vocals.

The album was recorded in 1981 at the famous studios that Jimi Hendrix started--Electric Lady Studios in New York City.  Mick Jones assisted Lange with production, Dave Wittman was the Chief Engineer while Tony Platt helped with recording and George Marino mastered the album.  Foreigner's classic album was released July 2, 1981 on Atlantic Records.

Foreigner brings us to #44 All-Time with 4.

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