Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hot Blooded

Now that I am on holiday, it is time to write more than usual (which isn't much..). I have practically dozens of topics I would like to blab about, so let's see how many I end up writing about during this week...

Styx was the band that introduced me to magnificent, theatrical 70s rock music. Following the recommendations of Last.fm I soon discovered Foreigner and picked up the debut album from 1977. Musically speaking this band appeared to me as a sort of less grandiose but just as catchy little brother of Styx. In the summer of 2009 I spent many nice moments listening to Foreigner's self-titled debut album. No wonder I was drawn by such songs as Feels Like the First Time and Cold As Ice – they are great, melodic, rocking songs and contain really good vocal harmonies.

Given that one of Foreigner's founding members was the ex-King Crimson Ian McDonald, it might make you wonder why Foreigner's music is not all that progressive. Instead, any song by Foreigner I have heard so far sounds quite straightforward – there are no ultra-fast, complicated solos and the songs tend to be shorter than five minutes. On the other hand, it is quite understandable that by the end of the 70s bands started rather downplaying the progressive elements than still keeping them in their music. Maybe the progressive was slowly going out of style?

The other two founding members of Foreigner were Mick Jones, another British musician who had formerly served in Spooky Tooth, among others, and American singer Lou Gramm, who would soon charm the masses with both his excellent voice and songwriting talent. Together with drummer Dennis Elliot, bass player Ed Gagliardi, and keyboardist Al Greenwood, this British-American combo was ready to conquer the world. Unlike Styx, Foreigner managed to sell multi-platinum already with its debut album. Several more multi-platinum-sellers followed in the footsteps of the self-titled album.

I have taken it slow with Foreigner. So far I have only listened to the first two albums (the debut and Double Vision, 1978). Both albums are definitely good. The overall feel of Foreigner's music is very much like Styx: magnificent melodies, superb vocal harmonies, good energy, catchy hard rock riffs, added with a melancholic edge. Listen to a song like Blue Morning, Blue Day and you will immediately think about both Queen and Styx. A certain bittersweetness also gives Foreigner a lot of soul. Well, I guess I just described the ultimate pop song pattern, once again... Nowadays I call anything melody-oriented music “pop”. Foreigner is, in fact, pop in two different meanings.

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