The Classic Album at Midnight – Foreigner’s 4

The Classic Album at Midnight – Foreigner's 4


Tonight (December 16th) on the world famous Classic Album at Midnight on Radio Nova we’re playing Foreigner’s 4.

The album is presented in full with no commercials or interruptions.

Foreigner was founded in 1976 when British musician Mick Jones, formerly of Nero and the Gladiators, Johnny Hallyday’s band, Spooky Tooth and The Leslie West Band, found himself stuck in New York City without a band. Rather than seeking another role in an existing group, Jones decided to form his own and concentrate on his songwriting.

He first recruited local keyboard player Al Greenwood before enlisting founding King Crimson member Ian McDonald, drummer Dennis Elliott, former Spooky Tooth lead singer Lou Gramm and bassist Ed Gagliardi.

Due to himself, McDonald and Elliott being Brits in the US, Jones came up with the band name Foreigner.

Success certainly wasn’t foreign to the band. Their 1976 self-titled debut spent a year in the US Top 20, selling over five million copies. After establishing themselves as a popular touring act, Foreigner’s second album, 1978’s Double Vision reached number three in the US where it sold seven million copies. Success continued with 1979’s Head Games, though it sold less than its predecessors and was accompanied by disruption as Gagliardi was replaced by Rick Wills, formerly of The Small Faces.

Seeking more control of the band, Jones sacked Greenwood and McDonald in 1980. This left Foreigner as a quartet of lead vocalist Gramm, bassist Wills, drummer Elliott and Jones handling guitar and keyboards.

This new line-up gave rise to the renaming of their next album from Silent Partners to 4, which was coincidentally also their fourth release.

With Jones taking over songwriting duties on all of its tracks, 4 saw Foreigner move away from their hard rock sound into a more mainstream sound that would become synonymous with 1980s soft rock.

Stripping the band down to a quartet meant Foreigner required a host of session musicians to perform on 4. Among them were synth wizard Thomas Dolby, saxophonist Junior Walker and slide guitarist High McCracken.

4 features 10 tracks: Night Life; Juke Box Hero; Break It Up; Waiting for a Girl Like You; Luanne; Urgent; I’m Gonna Win; Woman in Black; Girl on the Moon; and Don’t Let Go.

4 was released on July 2nd 1981 and became Foreigner’s first album to top the US Billboard chart, spending 10 weeks at number one and selling over six million copies. The album saw Foreigner finally crack the European charts, peaking at number five in the UK. Urgent, Waiting for a Girl Like You, Juke Box Hero and Break it Up all became hit singles.

Jones considers 4 his finest album.

It was definitely the sum of what I thought we’d been building towards,” he said. “When I look back on it I know it’s my favourite album. I know the process was long, gruelling and costly – costly not just financially, either. Relationships got strained during that album. Domestic situations got out of control. There was a lot of intensity involved in that. But looking back it’s the one I always say I’m probably the most proud of.

You can listen to Foreigner shape the sound of ’80s rock at midnight tonight on Radio Nova.