|Foreigner - 4|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Richard Elen|
|Tuesday, 30 October 2001|
From a strong opening in the late Seventies with their debut album "Foreigner" and follow-up "Double Vision", Foreigner’s third release in 1979, "Head Games", was rather an anticlimax for many. It was a difficult time for the band too, but the 1981 release "4" was to take the band to a higher level, including several strong songs, including "Waiting for a Girl Like You" and "Urgent". If you like the band, this album is without doubt their best-known, and you will want to check out the surround remixes on this disc.
This DVD-A/V disc is another in a series of classic recordings from the Warners catalog remixed for surround and issued on the Rhino label. It includes stereo and surround mixes on the DVD-Audio area and Dolby AC-3 surround on the DVD-V-compatible area. The surround mixes are extremely effectively handled by Paul Klingberg at Magnet Vision in Santa Monica, who gives these many strong tracks a new lease on life – and as 17-million-strong best-seller in stereo, it’s an obvious choice for high-definition surround release.
There were a lot of people involved in the making of this album, from basic tracks recorded by Tony Platt (one of my mentors at Island’s Basing Street Studios in the early Seventies) to production by Mutt Lange who by that time had a string of major hits behind him including two AC/DC albums. In addition to the core band led by Mick Jones, there are some interesting additional musicians including Thomas Dolby on synths, and another name in the sequencer department, Larry Fast, whom some will remember for his contributions to Peter Gabriel’s work and for his own stunning virtuoso electronic music solo albums.
The result is a dense and tightly-woven recording with a very distinct feel of the time and place in which it was created and, just as sometimes you put demo recordings together that work, and then you can’t seem to get quite the same feel when you go into the studio to record the masters, so it is here that to my ear, the surround remixes, although of extremely high quality, do not quite seem to have the life and feel of the stereo originals. This is not due to any fault of the remix crew: it is almost certainly the result of the intervention of 20 years distance from the very immediate forces that shaped this turning point in the band’s career. Regrettably, the time to have done the surround mixes was in 1980, and needless to say, they didn’t.
That’s not to say that this album is a waste of time: on the contrary. The surround mixes are, as I have said, excellent, with sensitive treatment by someone we know is a master of classic rock remixes (he also did Deep Purple’s "Machine Head" DVD-A). There are photo albums from the sessions on the disc, two additional tracks (recorded in Mick Jones’ home studio in 1999, they are ‘nearly unplugged’ versions of "Juke Box Hero" and "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Jones and Lou Gramm) and comprehensive sleeve notes and lyrics.
This album brings back some personal memories, and it was good to hear these songs again, brought to new life in surround. I am simply not entirely sure whether or not their original magic has stood the test of time. But if you are a fan of the band, you are bound to want this.