Thursday, June 20, 2013

Foreigner - Double Vision

Today (June 20th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Double Vision, the second studio album from the British-American rock band Foreigner. This multi-Platinum album went to number 32 in the UK and New Zealand, and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

The line-up of the band for this one was Dennis Elliott (drums and vocals), Ed Gagliardi (bass and vocals), Lou Gramm (lead vocals and percussion), Al Greenwood (keyboards), Mick Jones (guitar, piano, keyboards and vocals) and Ian McDonald (guitar, keyboards, vocals and reeds). Ian Lloyd also contributed some backing vocals.

Side one opens with “Hot Blooded”, the first single from the album. It went to number 42 in the UK and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The opening guitar riff on this one is a 70’s classic and gets right to my very core. And it fits given that the song is about getting aroused by a knock-out female.

The third single “Blue Morning, Blue Day” charted at number 45 in the UK and number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100. I have always liked the blend of the piano and guitars on this heart-broken confessional.

Things slow down with the ballad “You’re All I Am”. The band plays around a bit with rhythms here, reflecting the skipping beats of a heart in love.

“Back Where You Belong” opens with a slower tempo that builds as the singer’s own emotion builds. This one is all about sending a former love packing.

I like the strutting rhythm on the verses of “Love Has Taken Its Toll”. In listening to it, it sort of reminds me a little of “Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror Picture Show from three years earlier.

Side two starts with the title track. “Double Vision”, released as the second single, reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (blocked from the top spot by Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park”). This one has a driving beat, a great song for one of those long road trip mixes where you just want to turn up the music loud and barrel down the highway.

The instrumental “Tramontane” is next; it also appeared as the B-side to the first single. The synths are spotlighted on this one.

The ballad “I Have Waited So Long”, the B-side to the third single, has elements that are, for me, a little Beatles/McCartney-like. Those include the guitar playing, the lead vocal, and the backing harmonies.

The B-side to the second single was “Lonely Children”. This mid-tempo track instantly had my head bopping. Again, there is a number of change-ups in the rhythm through out, adding varied layers to the piece. It seems to be speaking about teen runaways at first but then alludes to the fact that at times we are all “lonely children”. So, perhaps, it is speaking to a more general topic of wanting to be understood and accepted.

“Spellbinder” closes out the record with a slinky number about a sultry seductress.

The expanded CD release includes live versions of “Hot Blooded” and “Love Maker”.

I owned a copy of Double Vision on vinyl back in 1978; I got it for a present that Christmas. I was a fan of the hit singles and had not picked up any of the 45s, so I decided to put the album on my holiday wish list. It has been a long time since I listened to the whole thing, seeing as it went the way of the rest of my vinyl over fifteen years ago. There are definitely some of the deep tracks I want to add back to my library once more.

Looking for more Foreigner album reviews? Check out these links:

- For 1981’s album 4, click here.

- For 1984’s Agent Provocateur, click here.


HERC said...

So many Foreigner stories I could tell but I'll just mention one of my favorite memories of the song "Hot Blooded":

Les Nessman getting ready for date with Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP In Cincinatti. Sadly, the music was replaced when Season One was released on DVD and the streaming services.

Growing up watching the show, I always imagined myself as Andy Travis though I lusted after Jennifer like Herb did. (Had her white bikini poster on my wall with the classic Farrah one as a youngster and had to take them down whenever my grandparents visited, which was kind of often.)

Liked Bailey a lot too - smart women with glasses have always been a weak spot. [MRS. HERC is both Jennifer curvy and Bailey smart with glasses so I'm living the dream.]

Now that I'm older and more realistic in my self-image, I look like Dr. Johnny Fever with creeping influences of Les Nessman and Herb Carlson. Still married to an ageless Jennifer/Bailey hybrid though, which makes me feel so much younger than I look. (Have quietly removed most of the mirrors in our house...)

Kelly Hansen, Foreigner's fourth (!) and current vocalist, is a local hometown boy. Met him at an event and while he is classic rock god good looking, he was very down to earth and modestly humble I thought. He does a great job on the classic Foreigner songs but I still prefer the Lou Gramm originals.

Martin Maenza said...

Ah, yes, WKRP memories. That was a great show - very funny and excellent use of music as a supplemental character for the show. I would watch the show every week, often over at my grandmother's house. While she didn't get the music references, she did enjoy sitcoms.

Oh, and you are so right about Bailey (played by Jan Smithers) - so the hot librarian type. Of course, everyone loved Loni Anderson too.

If I had to put myself down to one of the cast members as I am today, I would likely fall in the Herb Carlson mode (though I know quite a bit more about rock and roll than he does).