For a little over a decade - from 1976 to about 1987,
the era of arena rock - Foreigner were arguably the biggest band in the
world; certainly in a three-way battle with Journey and Styx for that
Like those other bands, in the new millennium,
Foreigner still toils on the oldies circuit, with a new lead singer and
other new members, reliving past glories.
However, No End In Sight, the first two-disk
anthology of Foreigner's career (there have been a few single disk
compilations over the years) reminds us just how magnificent those glories
Made up of a yin-yang duo of lead singer Lou Gramm and
a former Chuck Berry guitarist named Mick Jones (no, not the same one who
was in the Clash, though that did cause a little confusion during both
bands' concurrent hey-days.)
What is probably forgotten somewhat all these years
later is that Foreigner was a hard rock band, because it is mostly their
ballads that still get the airplay. However their first three albums
were peppered with classic rock touchstones - including the acidic "Cold As
Ice," beautifully sulky "Blue Monday, Blue Day," the pissed-off
blow-off "Head Games" and the propulsive "Double Vision."
4. The album
was previewed by the band's greatest rock shot, the randy lust song
"Urgent." Not only did it rock like a mother, then it shifted into
overdrive due to a blistering horn solo by legendary soul man Jr. Walker (of
the All-Stars fame.)The band really blew into the stratosphere with the
release of their fourth album, concisely entitled
However, the band's direction was forever shifted with
the second single from 4, the swooningly lovely ballad "Waiting For a
Girl Like You." This was Foreigner's salvo in the creation of the
power ballad (within a year of the release, Styx recorded "The Best of
Times" and Journey did the just as gorgeous "Open Arms.").
Interesting/weird trivia fact - the beautiful,
ethereal keyboards of "Waiting For a Girl Like You" were provided by a
outsider from the band - a then-unknown techno-pop nerd named Thomas Dolby, who would just a
year later make his own assault on the pop charts with his sublimely loony
single "She Blinded Me With Science."
Despite the fact that Foreigner followed their smash
with two of their better rock singles - the majestic "Juke Box Hero" and the
petulant "Break It Up," they were never really looked at seriously as a rock
In fact, after the near perfection of the first disk,
which is sequenced chronologically and ends on "Waiting For a Girl Like
You," the entire second disk of songs feels like a bit of an afterthought - despite several hits,
including the band's
biggest, "I Want To Know What Love Is."
Still, even if the band is much lighter in the
afterglow of "Waiting For A Girl Like You," there are a few appealing
middle-of-the-road performances in the later years, including the monster
hit "I Want To Know What Love Is," in which Foreigner embraced the balladry
that they had only flirted with previously, but they also added a full
gospel choir... and it worked. Other pretty closing shots include the
morose "That Was Yesterday" and their chart adieu "Until the End of Time."
There are four new tracks at the end. "Too Late" is the band's first studio recording since
1994, as well as the first song laid down by the current lineup, which is
still seriously missing Gramm's screeching Zep-lite vocals (Gramm left the
band for good in 2003.) However, the band has added
drummer Jason Bonham, son of real-Zep drummer John. It's fine, and the
new group also closes out with live performances of a few Foreigner
classics, which pale by comparison to the original recordings - all of which
are on this compilation as well.
But who are we kidding? No one has really been
waiting around for new music by Foreigner - particularly considering that
only one member of the band remains from the group's salad days.
Granted, Jones was the main songwriter, but Gramm was just as much a part of
the band's sound - just check out the two songs here from the 1991 dud album
Unusual Heat, made during Gramm's first short-lived divorce from the group.
You're not here for the new stuff. You're here for the hits, and No End In Sight
has them wall to wall. Just don't be surprised if you end up listening
to the first disk a lot more than the second.