|Foreigner - Foreigner|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 27 February 2001|
Camaros, mullets and armless t-shirts were in vogue when Foreigner was the indisputable king of rock ‘n’ roll in the very early 1980s, when their self-titled album laid claim to the title of Atlantic Records largest-selling record internationally. Foreigner was Foreigner’s landmark album, laden with hits and a developed style that has defined a genre of music that has since been archived with millions of spins on classic rock radio and been loved by generations of listeners. Foreigner is a bit cheesy to this member of Generation X, yet their musical talent and, more importantly, their songwriting gifts give them staying power more than 20 years after their call to glory.
You are familiar with the tunes on Foreigner, even if you don’t know it. "Feels Like The First Time" is the quintessential glam jam featuring over-the-top keyboard fills, guitar trills and a respectable bluesy performance from vocalist Lou Gramm. The layering of the background vocals isn’t too far from the catchy arrangements found on early Van Halen records of the same vintage. In the case of the 5.1 mix for this DVD-Audio disc (which will NOT play on a traditional CD player), the vocals are spread wide in the front of the soundstage, with a very laid-back ambience placed in the rears. This is not a hit-you-over-the-head 5.1 mix that will shock those loyalists who are very used to the original stereo mix.
"Cold As Ice" is yet another Top 10 hit for Foreigner that really shows off how well singer Lou Gramm’s vocals are mixed into the extra-wide 5.1 soundstage found on DVD-Audio discs. The tune captures much of the very warm analog feel of this now historical recording, despite the very digital nature of the new DVD-A format, which should be considered a compliment. I have heard "Cold As Ice" thousands of times on a variety of systems in different audio environments. With this DVD-Audio mix, the tune gains amazing separation without losing cohesion between instruments, percussion and vocals, both lead and background. The rest of Foreigner Four is less mega-hit driven. The tune "Fool For You Anyway" is another bluesy number that shows Lou Gramm’s vocal versatility with more Daryl Hall and John Oates-esque R&B melodies. "Long, Long Way From Home" is a well-layered rock tune that is true to the Foreigner format and features a very three-dimensional sax solo. However, it doesn’t live up to the pop standard set by the first two smash hits.
Played for the wrong crowd, Foreigner can be like wearing ripped jeans and a bandana to the W on a Saturday night. It is not just unhip, it is out of place. Taken in proper context, though, Foreigner Four is like a real world and in-tune example of all of those colorful scenes in "Boogie Nights," with Dirk Diggler belting out atonal power rock melodies. Please note: Lou Gramm is an excellent rock vocalist (especially in comparison to Dirk Diggler). As a DVD-Audio disc, Foreigner may overcome many 5.1 opponents’ main concern, which is that the mixes are too gimmicky. I like out-of-the-box 5.1 mixes but this DVD-A features a very carefully crafted mix that captures the very analog feel of the record and uses the 5.1 speakers to add space and air to the overall sound. While Foreigner is often cited in the same breath as Led Zeppelin Four, mostly because of sales statistics, there really is no comparison. The hits are as big but not as plentiful. The rest of the record goes to a very pleasant bluesy place that stands the test of time but is nowhere near the sheer genius of the Led Zeppelin classic. As a DVD-Audio disc, Foreigner is a must-have if you are in your 30s or 40s and grew up listening to Foreigner. The familiarity of the first two tunes makes Foreigner a candidate to be one of those discs that you need to pick up to take home on the first day you buy your DVD-Audio player.