A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
What’s key to the sound of Foreigner’s records? Obviously the big one would have to be ENERGY, a subject we have discussed at length here on the site. Next would be punchy ROCK BASS, followed by clear, present vocals. Those would be the big three.
Many copies were gritty, some were congested in the louder sections, some never got big, some were thin and lacking the analog richness of the best — we heard plenty of copies whose faults were obvious when played against the better sides such as these.
We just finished our first shootout for 4, having at our disposal a variety of pressings we believed to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that other pressings do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given copy reproduces those passages.
The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
Simple enough. It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection.
As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to start the shootout process all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.
You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way.
For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.
And very likely learned something new from every one.
Juke Box Hero
Break It Up
Waiting For A Girl Like You
I’m Gonna Win
Woman In Black
Girl On The Moon
Don’t Let Go
Over the course of their first three late-’70s albums, Foreigner had firmly established themselves (along with Journey and Styx) as one of the top AOR bands of the era. But the band was still looking for that grand slam of a record that would push them to the very top of the heap. Released in 1981, 4 would be that album.
In producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange — fresh off his massive success with AC/DC’s Back in Black — guitarist and all-around mastermind Mick Jones found both the catalyst to achieve this and his perfect musical soulmate… Through it all, vocalist Lou Gramm does his part, delivering a dazzling performance that confirmed his status as one of the finest voices of his generation.
Three years later, Foreigner would achieve even greater success on a pop level with the uneven Agent Provocateur, but by then Jones and Gramm were locked in an escalating war of egos that would soon lead to the band’s demise.
All things considered, 4 remains Foreigner’s career peak