Tonight (December 16) on the famous Classic album at midnight on Radio Nova, we’re playing Foreigner’s 4.
The album is presented in its entirety, without advertising or interruption.
Foreigner was founded in 1976 when British musician Mick Jones, formerly of Nero and the Gladiators, Johnny Hallyday’s band Spooky Tooth and The Leslie West Band, found himself stranded in New York without a band. Rather than looking for another role in an existing band, Jones decided to form his own and focus on his songwriting.
He first recruited local keyboardist Al Greenwood before enlisting King Crimson founding member Ian McDonald, drummer Dennis Elliott, former Spooky Tooth frontman Lou Gramm and bassist Ed Gagliardi.
Due to himself, McDonald’s and Elliott being British in the United States, Jones came up with the group name Foreigner.
Success was certainly no stranger to the group. Their self-titled 1976 debut album spent a year in the US Top 20, selling over five million copies. After establishing itself as a popular touring group, Foreigner’s second album, Double Vision of 1978, reached number three in the United States where it sold seven million copies. Success continued with Head Games in 1979, although it sold less than its predecessors and was accompanied by disruption when Gagliardi was replaced by Rick Wills, formerly of The Small Faces.
Seeking to have more control over the group, Jones sacked Greenwood and McDonald in 1980. Foreigner then became a quartet made up of singer Gramm, bassist Wills, drummer Elliott and Jones taking care of guitar and keyboards.
This new lineup resulted in the renaming of their upcoming album from Silent Partners to 4, which was also coincidentally their fourth release.
With Jones taking over songwriting on all of his tracks, 4 saw Foreigner move away from his hard rock sound for a more mainstream sound that would become synonymous with 1980s soft rock.
Reducing the band to a quartet meant Foreigner needed a host of session musicians to play on 4. Among them were synthesizer Thomas Dolby, saxophonist Junior Walker and slide guitarist High McCracken.
4 offers 10 tracks: Night Life; Jukebox hero; Break it up; Waiting for a girl like you; Luanne; Urgent; I’m going to win; Woman in black; Girl on the Moon; and don’t let go.
4 was released on July 2, 1981 and became Foreigner’s first album to top the US Billboard charts, spending 10 weeks at number one and selling over six million copies. The album eventually saw Foreigner make it onto the European charts, peaking at No. 5 in the UK. Urgent, Waiting for a Girl Like You, Juke Box Hero, and Break it Up all became hit singles.
Jones considers 4 to be his best album.
“It was definitely the sum of what I thought we had built towards,” he said. “When I think about it, I know this is my favorite album. I know the process has been long, exhausting and expensive – not just financially either. Relations have become strained during this album. Domestic situations have spiraled out of control. There was a lot of intensity in it. But looking back, this is the one that I always say I’m probably the most proud of.“
You can listen to Foreigner shaping the sound of ’80s rock at midnight tonight on Radio Nova.