Album Review: Foreigner – 4 (1981 LP)

Over at Mike Ladano land he recently had some guests that were on and speaking about their favourite albums from 1981. I posted my 5 favourites in the comments section and this album was not included. That speaks more to the strength of the albums that came out in 1981 than it does about this albums lack of power.

This album brings back awesome memories for me. Summer of 1981 my buddies and I decided to bike the 20 kms to Elora Gorge Conservation area for a weekend of camping. I brought a change of socks, change of undies, a fresh t shirt, my new ghetto blaster and a few cassettes (this one amongst them). I hopped on my trusty 10 speed (with handle bars flipped up of course) and got to pedallin’.

Foreigner 4 was brand new in the summer of 1981 and I hadn’t even listened to it yet. I was drawn in by the simplicity of the Hipgnosis designed cover with the film leader countdown showing the number 4. I played the shit out of that cassette when we got to our campsite. If nothing else my fellow campers within a square mile were going to get to hear every note of this album that weekend.

Night Life – Continuing on with Foreigner’s 70’s era tunes but yet there is a bit of background keyboards that suit the song nicely and don’t really take over. Tom (don’t call me Thomas) Dolby will make sure the synths are awesome on this album with help from Larry Fast and Canadian Michael Fonfara (of Electric Flag, Rhinoceros, Lou Reed, Downchild Blues Band fame who died earlier this year, RIP). This one is a great melodic rocker to start this album off on a high.

Juke Box Hero – Funky grooving pulsating pounds start this one off until Mick’s wicked geetar slays us. The theme kind of reminds me of Bad Company’s Shooting Star, but with a more positive vibe about how you can become a rock and roll hero.

Break It Up – The wimpy keyboards almost had me pressing the fast forward button on this one back in the day. That would have been too bad as this is a great song.

Waiting For A Girl Like You – Ok. Now the fast forward button got a workout. This was the big single from back in the day. It probably got them a ton of crossover play on the am and the lite rock stations, plus it is probably still used as a wedding song to this day, but for a bunch of early teen boys full of piss and vinegar it was just way too wimpy. I can appreciate the song more with age, but it did foretell the way Foreigner was headed later in the 80’s.

Luanne – Possibly the biggest sleeper on the album. Mick’s guitar is simple but effective. The lyrics involve a boy with a crush on his classmate Luanne. It suited me perfectly in 1981.

Urgent – Side 2 starts off with another scorcher. The drums pound and the guitar wails. The use of saxophone makes this song really unique though. The main sax duties are handled by Billy Joel’s main sax man Mark Rivera but the solo is handled by Jr. Walker RIP (who died this day in 1995, which was part of the reason I chose to review this album). This is easily one of the best sax songs in rock music. It would easily be in my top 10, maybe even top 3.

I’m Gonna Win – Unique instrumentation begin this one off, then Lou Gramm’s amazing vocals, the guitar and keys help this song win. The video below shows how this song can still ring true in 2021. Covid will not beat me down. I’m gonna win.

Woman In Black – A pulsating song with cool vocal harmonies (including the album producer Mutt Lange and Ian Lloyd), some great guitar work and a unique vocal fadeout at the end.

Girl On The Moon – It has kind of a mix between Bad Company with a little bit of Pink Floydian instrumentation thrown in for good measure. That sounds like a pretty cool mix if you ask me.

Don’t Let Go – Lou Gramm really pushes his vocal chords to the limit on this one. Luckily they don’t let go.

This album would probably have cracked my top 10 albums of 1981 list. It really is a great one that brings back some awesome memories for me. If you only know Foreigner by their later, softer stuff give this one a chance. You won’t regret it.