Juke box heroes and hot-blooded headknockers, rejoice! You asked for more Foreigner and you got it: This week’s three-pack picks from their first two albums, late-'70s releases that opened the world’s ears to the larger-than-life spirit of arena rock.
Foreigner happened when three British musicians who’d been around hooked up with three hungry young Americans. Group leader/guitarist Mick Jones had already made a few albums with Spooky Tooth, a cult-hero Brit combo whose keyboardist Gary Wright later found fame with “Dream Weaver.” With Foreigner he was looking for a more muscular sound, and he found it with the wall-shaking vocals of Lou Gramm, a Rochester, NY native who’d been singing in the little-known Black Sheep. Also in the original lineup was multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, a former King Crimson member who stuck some art-rock flourishes between the lines.
“Feels Like the First Time” made an immediate impression as Foreigner’s first single, with its shimmering synths and power-chords, and those heavenly Gramm vocals. Though never a single, “Headknocker” also got plenty of airplay and was a big favorite at tailgate parties in our neck of the woods. Skipping ahead to the second album, “Blue Morning Blue Day” shows the band’s more sensitive side and introduces the soulful direction of later Foreigner hits — all of which you can still hear on the band’s recent tours with Jones at the helm.