Still sounds like the first time

The other night, I played an LP I’ve had since 1977. Save for a little noise on the lead-in groove, the sound remains almost pristine. It’s “Foreigner,” that group’s debut record from that year.

Yeah, maybe Foreigner became mainstream arena rockers, but that record sounded great when it hit Top 40 radio otherwise full of mush in early 1977. It sounded solid and muscular because it crashed a chart populated at the top by Hall and Oates, 10cc, Abba, Barbra Streisand, David Soul, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Glen Campbell and Kansas.

That great sound was the result of an inspired teaming: Two veteran Brits — guitarist Mick Jones (who’d played with Spooky Tooth and the Leslie West Band and had backed Peter Frampton and George Harrison) and the versatile Ian McDonald (who’d been in the first incarnation of King Crimson in the late ’60s) — with New York singer Lou Gramm.

Boston seemingly had kicked open the door a year earlier, and Foreigner followed it through. In fact, Foreigner’s debut record arrived just as the enduring power — or at least the radio presence — of Boston’s debut record had peaked and was starting to fade.

Mark E., a friend of the blog who has long worked in radio, raves about “Foreigner.”

“Not only did the hits from the album sound great, so did album cuts like ‘I Need You,’ ‘At War With The World’ and ‘The Damage is Done.’

So tonight on The Midnight Tracker, materializing through the sweet blue haze of time, is a side with a couple of those cuts.


“Long, Long Way From Home,” Woman Oh Woman,” “At War With the World,” “Fool For You Anyway” and “I Need You,” Foreigner, from “Foreigner,” 1977. This is Side 2. It runs 20:04. It’s also available digitally.

What followed from Foreigner, though popular, never seemed as fresh as that first record. This is the only Foreigner record I’ve kept.

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One Comment on “Still sounds like the first time”

  1. Shark Says:

    I’ve seen Foreigner in concert many times, but the last two times I saw them (Rock County Fair-Janesville, Wis. 2007 and Dubuque, Iowa 2012) was with with lead singer Kelly Hanson. They really sounded great! In Janesville, Mick Jones introduced Kelly Hanson, and, with a twinkle in his eye, said, “He’s really brought our songs to life.” Mick did not perform with Foreigner for the 2012 show in Dubuque, meaning that Foreigner performed without any original members…yet it didn’t seem to matter as Kelly Hanson, along with guitarists Bruce Watson, Tom Gimbel, and Jeff Pilson rocked out to no end. (I was right up front and Jeff Pilson started showing off and held this guitar over my head and played it upside-down! Yes…I was jamming with him!) One thing is for sure…Foreigner is Mick’s Jones’ BABY…and you gotta credit him with rebuilding Foreigner from the ground up instead of laying the band to rest.

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