Foreigner was a band I liked before I started buying albums! Those first 4 albums were huge, and all over the radio. But when Agent Provocateur came out after the massive success of Foreigner 4 I lost interest, the singles were a turn off for me.
Foreigner peaked commercially at 4, but those first 3 albums were an amazing set, with lots of great rock songs, 4 was a pop album, albeit a very good and incredibly successful one. A shame it lead to more pop albums, much less memorable.
According to Lou Gramm’s book “Juke Box Hero” , things were no longer equal and as they were years in the beginning between Mick Jones and himself, with Mick taking charge of the band’s direction. Gramm needed to get out and doing something on his own. Gramm teamed up with former Black Sheep bandmate Bruce Turgon [then of Warrior], who would co-write as well as play bass, rhythm guitar, and keyboards. Also brought in was Nils Lofgren on lead guitar, and British producer Pat Moran as co-producer and engineer. The album Ready Or Not, released in early ’87 was a big success, boasting 2 hits, most notably the Top 10 “Midnight Blue”, which along with the title track got lots of radio play. Overall it was a solid album with other upbeat tracks like ” Heartache”, “Arrow Thru Your Heart”, and “Time”.
Foreigner would release one more album late in ’87, and I thought Inside Information was a slight improvement over it’s predecessor but the band had clearly become more pop-hit driven with Gramm seeing little reason to contribute to the creative process, and the band content to coast along, as Jones had also become a producer of other bands in the ’80s; this allowed plenty of time for Gramm to start on a 2nd album.
Ready Or Not was followed up in 1989 with Long Hard Look. The title was likely what Gramm was thinking about his future at that point!? Austrian born producer Peter Wolf [also known for playing on a few Frank Zappa albums] handled production, as well as co-wrote some tracks and played keyboards on a few. This album featured more players, such as guitarists Vivian Campbell, Dann Huff, Peter Maunu, and Nils Lofgren. Bruce Turgon returned to co-write some songs, and play bass on most of the album, and [brother] Ben Gramm played the drums. Long Hard Look featured the top 10 hit “Just Between You And Me” [co-written with Holly Knight, who co-wrote a pile of hits in the ’80s for the likes of Pat Benatar, Tina Turner, Heart, and Kiss, among others]. It also featured the top 40 hit “True Blue Love”, punchy opener “Angel With A Dirty Face”, as well as a cover of Small Faces’ “Tin Soldier”. Though not as big as Ready Or Not, Long Hard Look still charted and was a fine follow up. Following this Gramm would team up with Vivian Campbell to form Shadow King.
Gramm’s ’80s solo albums, along with a 3rd disc of single edits, remixes, an interview, and the track “Lost In The Shadows” [from The Lost Boys soundtrack], are all compiled in a box due out next month. These are a must-have for any Foreigner fan. Interesting to note that without Lou, Foreigner struggled on with one more album, and Mick Jones’ 1989 solo album bombed, so the band really needed him more than he needed them; after all – Gramm was one of the most recognizable and premier rock singers of that late ’70s-early ’80s hard-rock / AOR era [along with Steve Perry and perhaps the late Brad Delp]. Following major health issues Lou Gramm would return to recording and performing , including another stint in Foreigner, as well as his excellent 2009 album The Lou Gramm Band. The package come with a 16 page books with quotes and liner notes from Malcolm Dome.
For more info & pre-order : Lou Gramm: Questions And Answers – The Atlantic Anthology 1987-1989, 3CD – Cherry Red Records