Gotta Keep on Rockin’

For a couple of years some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

This week, however, after a month of listening solo, Tim returns to the game.

Foreigner – 4 (1981)

I’ve had this complicated relationship with Foreigner. I used to just be a radio fan of theirs. In high school, my girlfriend at the time gave me their greatest hits for my birthday. And then we broke up. So I can’t listen to Foreigner without remembering her.

She also gave me The Darkness’ first CD and introduced me to Guster and Dream Theater, but for some reason the nostalgia isn’t as strong (to the point I often forget she introduced me to Guster – and probably other bands as well) with those.

While I’ve toyed with the idea of sharing Foreigner, I’ve never felt strongly enough about any of their albums to actually get around to them. It probably would have been this one because, let’s be honest, Juke Box Hero is a great song. I mean, the whole album is really good, I just have a hard time getting past the circumstances of my first CD of theirs, you know? It’s weird how things like that work.

In addition to Juke Box Hero and Urgent (when he introduced the album, Tim said “it is so catchy you can’t help singing it when people say the word ‘urgent’ in conversation” and he was absolutely right), the album opener and closer are great. Waiting for a Girl Like You is pretty good, but I always though Girl on the Moon was better. 3.66/5

In my mind, Foreigner is indelibly grouped with Journey, Kansas and Styx. To a lesser extent Boston; they may be on an equal footing with Boston, but after the big three, the next band to come to my mind is usually Foreigner, then REO Speedwagon, and then I think of Boston and remember that they’re better than REO Speedwagon. Again, it’s weird how things like that work.

I think their strength lies in the guitar work and the writing. I mean, Lou Gramm’s vocals are the main sound people identify with Foreigner, but I don’t love his voice. Not to say they could have anyone sing, because the “nearly unplugged” bonus tracks (recorded in 1999) feature a 20-year older Lou. The things that bug me are gone (and there are new things that bug me). Back to my main point: Luanne feels almost like a ’50s or ’60s pop rock tune, while I’m Gonna Win feels like early hair metal. They’ve got great variety in their writing and style.

Later, Spencer chimed in:

“This is the kind of stuff I was really into in High School. I still like it, but my musical interests have drifted. It was nice to hear some deeper stuff . I’ve really only known Foreigner’s hits. Lou Gramm has one of the best voices in rock and roll, and the hits are great. The stuff in between is great too, just wasn’t quite what I’ve been into lately. Well deserves 4.0/5 though at least.” – Spencer

Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie (1997)

After three weeks of doing ex-Beatle solo albums, I feel like I’m a bit obligated to do a solo Paul album. Not that I’m anti-Paul. I just feel like he has so much to choose from, it was hard to choose something to share.

To that point, I almost shared his 1982 Tug of War, which is really great and you might actually like it more than this one. It’s feel more optimistic and has a wider variety of styles. Much like Ringo‘s Vertical Man, this was Paul’s first album after The Beatles Anthology and he said that project revitalized him and make music like he used to 30 years earlier. This album as a whole feels kind of melancholy and nostalgic.

Jeff Lynne (of ELO), Steve Miller (of the Steve Miller Band), George Martin (sometimes considered the Fifth Beatle), Ringo Starr (an actual ex-Beatle), plus Paul’s wife and son all contribute musically to songs on this album. I’m not sure who it is, but some of the guitar work on this album is really great; venturing into hard blues rock.

Here’s what Spencer had to say:

“At one time, Paul was my favorite beatle, but then it changed to George, then kinda John, then kinda somewhere in the middle, which is still where I am now. I feel like this is pure McCartney, great melodies. some rock mixed in, nice songs but almost too predictable. I really miss the mix of songs from all the beatles: I want a John or George song in there somewhere.

The opening track and the title were some of the highlights for me. There was really good drama in The Song We Were Singing, and Flaming Pie just had more rock than most tracks so it stood out. Used to be Bad though was a lowlight. I love that the beatles never did a blues form (except John’s Blues on the white album), and here I feel like Paul just kinda was phoning it in, it really didn’t seem like a soulful blues at all (unlike John’s). Also “anymore” and “ago” don’t rhyme in the slightest and it was really distracting since it came many times in the song. Still 4.2/5″ – Spencer

Feel free to share your own thoughts on either of these albums down in the comments section.


One thought on “Gotta Keep on Rockin’

  1. Pingback: Soar Like a Bird with His Heart Full of Song | An American Audio-logue

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