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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Foreigner - 1981 4
Foreigner - 1981 4

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 GLORY-DAZE 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 eighties 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.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on January 01 1970 01:00:00
This was one of the first rock albums I got back in late 1981. To this day, and from now until forevermore, it shall remain my absolute favorite - both because of its importance in my personal music history and because, of course, of its sheer greatness. 'Waiting For A Girl Like You' is massive - it is still played a bunch on radio stations of many formats (classic rock, light rock, 'mix' stations), and I have never changed the station when it comes on. I'm a sax player, and the solo in 'Urgent' was the holy grail of sax solos when I was in high school and college. Junior Walker plays it on tenor sax. I could get all the notes on alto sax (although I couldn't make it sound as cool), but I just could not nail those stratospheric high notes on tenor. 'I'm Gonna Win' was the B-side to the WFAGLY single, but it is an incredible song in its own right. 'Woman In Black' - wow. My least favorite song would be 'Luann', and it is still a great song that really does not deserve its status as most-skipped song on any CD I have ever owned (due to the sheer absolute perfection of tracks 3, 4, 6, 7, 8). Even though many of my favorite albums from high school have lost some of their appeal over the years, this one definitely has not and never will.
#2 | richardb on May 24 2006 21:40:45
Yep, this sure brings back happy memories...

I was lucky enough to catch the band on their UK 'tour' (ie 4 dates) in London during the summer of '81, with .38 Special as support.

It still ranks as one of the best gigs I've been to after all these years. Even if we Limeys were outnumbered 3 to 1 by Yanks in the audience - LOL!

Richard B
#3 | grahamfenn on March 16 2007 12:56:55
Foreigner will always be one of the best AOR bands that attained a mainstream following. I prefer long-lost-one-album-wonders like China Sky but I do have a number of Foreigner albums in my collection and I have seen them live. This ('4') would rate as one of their very best - not just for 'Waiting for a Girl like You' but because it balances Rockers & Ballads so well across its 10 tracks. I am sure everyone who belongs to this board has this without-a-doubt so I will not prattle on. If you haven't - shame on you... Grin

#4 | sabace on March 18 2008 14:35:42
brilliant, brilliant lp!
#5 | Jez on June 13 2008 03:24:31
A classic in how to make an AOR record. Great rock tracks in 'Night life', 'Jukebox Hero' & the perfect AOR soundtrack of 'Break It Up'. The band also put on a masterclass in how to write the perfect ballad in 'Waiting For A Girl Like You', 'Girl On The Moon' & 'I'm Gonna Win'. For me, this all adds up to near perfection & in it's genre, one of the best AOR records ever released.
#6 | DEMONAOR on July 21 2008 10:19:59
Killer Mega Albumgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsgunsguns
#7 | Eric on April 06 2011 00:20:56
As the story goes when Thomas Dolby got the call for the session he thought he was going to work with The Clash. Surprise! hilarious
#8 | super80boy on September 26 2015 17:03:45
'Juke Box Hero' brings chills to the skin every time; it's such an amazing song on every level. 'Waiting For A Girl Like You' was stellar, but it's partner 'Girl On The Moon' was almost just as good and could have been yet another single. Foreigner had crested the mountain with this album. They were a full bore hard rocking AOR band, pumping out gem after gem.
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