Foreigner – Head Games

More Foreigner

Head Games

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  • This outstanding copy of the band’s third album earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • One of the better copies from our recent shootout – big, bold and lively with a punchy bottom end 
  • With plenty of energy, killer rock bass, and clear, present vocals, this pressing has all the key qualities we look for in a Foreigner record
  • 4 stars: “Foreigner continued its platinum winning streak on Head Games, the band’s third album… and the supergroup’s successes would continue well into the ’80s.”

This copy showed us just how good this album can sound — BIG, rich and ENERGETIC.

As I’m sure you know, there is a Mobile Fidelity Half-Speed Mastered version of this album currently in print and I can only imagine how terrible it sounds. If any of our Hot Stamper customers have purchased the current release, I would be interested in hearing how you think it stacks up against this copy.

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.

But those are qualities that are almost never found on audiophile Half-Speeds. The remastering of those records almost always leaves them lifeless and compressed, with sloppy bass and recessed vocals. For some reason, audiophiles — including the audiophiles who produce them — like that sound. We do not. In fact, we can’t stand it. Which is why we will not be auditioning MoFi’s remastered pressing. If you are feeling adventurous (and have $30 to throw away) and want to do the shootout for yourself, please let us know how it goes.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

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.

What We’re Listening For on Head Games

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Problem Areas

Number one: Too many instruments jammed into too little space in the upper midrange. When the tonality is shifted-up, even slightly, or there is too much compression, there will be too many elements — voices, guitars, drums — vying for space in the upper area of the midrange, causing congestion and a loss of clarity.

With the more solid sounding copies, the lower mids are full and rich; above them, the next “level up” so to speak, there’s plenty of space in which to fit all the instruments comfortably, not piling them one on top of another as is so often the case. Consequently, the upper midrange area does not get stuffed and overwhelmed with musical information.

Number Two: edgy vocals, which is related to Number One above. Almost all copies have at least some edge to the vocals — the band seems to want to really belt it out in the multi-tracked choruses — but the best copies keep the edge under control, without sounding compressed, dark, dull or smeary.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Dirty White Boy 
Love On The Telephone 
Women 
I’ll Get Even With You 
Seventeen

Side Two

Head Games 
The Modern Day 
Blinded By Science 
Do What You Like 
Rev On The Red Line

AMG 4 Star Review

Foreigner continued its platinum winning streak on Head Games, the band’s third album. By the time Head Games was released, FM radio had fully embraced bands like Foreigner, Journey, and Boston, whose slick hard rock was tough enough to appeal to suburban teens, but smooth enough to be non-threatening to their parents. Tailor-made for the airwaves, “Dirty White Boy” and “Head Games” kept Foreigner at the top of the arena rock heap as the decade came to a close; and the supergroup’s successes would continue well into the ’80s.