For this review, I'm going to skip the content on this magnificent work as it has been reviewed many times in it's 33 year history. It has also cemented it's place in music history going 5 x platinum and placing Foreigner firmly on the map.
Since 1977, it has been released on vinyl, CD, DVD Audio and remastered CD including bonus tracks.
However, this was the version I'd been waiting for for many years.
IMHO, SACD has unrivalled fidelity and clarity as a format, similar to vinyl but without the surface fragility etc.
So it was with some anticipation I'd ordered this Mobile Fidelity version.
I was expecting something special and I wasn't disappointed.
First thing to notice was the packaging, this is a minature replica of the original vinyl release. It is faithful down the tiny details apart from the MoFi credits of course. In fact, it goes a stage further, the quality of the cardboard,printing etc is much higher than the standard UK vinyl release-something more akin to a Japanese pressing of the day. A full lyric sheet is included as is a description of the technology MoFi have used in this release such as the GAIN II mastering system.
Which is all very good but how does it sound?
Despite MoFi's claim not to have tampered with the Original Master tape in any way, the sound quality is stunning-makes it sound like it was recorded yeaterday. I'm fortunate to have SACD compatible playback equipment and in this format every last ounce of quality is extracted. Vocals are presented with startling clarity, guitars are present with every last nuance and tone and even the bass which isn't a strong point of the original release is balanced and polished.
Regular Audio CD, which is available on this disc as it is a Hybrid SACD, is still some distance ahead of the regular and 2002 remastered release in every way. And the differences can be heard even with modest equipment.
Well this release doesn't include any bonus tracks which were present in the 2002 Remaster and there isn't any 5.1 playback option as in the DVD Audio release that the SACD format is capable of (though how much of a loss this is is debateable IMHO...)
Finally, this edition is STRICTLY LIMITED and like a lot of Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs releases will discontinued soon and then become very collectible with sky-high prices being asked by 'fly by night' "e**y" traders-check out other non-Mofi SACD releases such as 'Black Celebration' by Depeche Mode as well as MoFi releases such as 'The Wall' by Pink Floyd (NOT SACD)and you'll see what I mean !
So if you are wondering if this is worth £25.99 from Amazon, the answer is YES-and then some!
"Cold as Ice" has never sounded so fresh and modern.
I remember Foreigner having instant success with the first two tracks from this album. Far from being raw debutants, the band were clearly already the finished article. Mick Jones's mature songwriting, Lou Gramm's voice, complex harmony vocal arrangements and expert studio craft suggested a band already at a peak. Those two hits revealed the odd dichotomy in their music. 'Feels Like The First Time', a thumping rocker isn't as well-remembered as the poppier 'Cold As Ice', which has the more memorable hook. Whereas they come across in a similar fashion to contemporaries such as Whitesnake on the rock numbers, 'Cold As Ice' sounds more like the sort of thing ELO would have made, while 'Woman Oh Woman' recalls 10cc in their light, post-Godley and Creme phase.
The most instantly appealing four tracks are stacked at the front of the album, 'Starrider' being a melodic pop ballad and 'Headknocker' a romping boogie. Two or three tracks are not quite up to the standard of the rest in terms of content, but performance and production standards are consistent throughout.
This is one of my favourite albums (I bought a vinyl copy in 1983 and replaced it with a CD two years later) and a very impressive debut by any standards.
"Foreigner" was released in 1977 (minus of course the bonus tracks that feature on the present version) and justifiably catapulted six musicians, who had previously had little or no success in other bands, into multi-platinum selling superstars.
The album begins in style with "Feels Like The First Time", the first song Mick Jones-the band's founder member-wrote for the group he was in the process of forming. The song is strong melodically (a hallmark of Foreigner material) and remains one of their most popular recordings.
In addition to another classic track, "As Cold As Ice", the songs on this CD are generally of a high calibre-none is merely a filler. Other highlights include "Starrider," "Damage is Done," "Long Long Way From Home" and "I Need You." The latter track in particular is impressive. It is a majestic song-the longest on the album-and is superbly sung and contains a well-structured guitar solo by Mick Jones. Although a very gifted songwriter, Mick is not renowned for his fretboard skills, but "Foreigner" certainly contains some of his best solos. Indeed, in my opinion the one featured on "I Need You" is the finest he has ever recorded.
Lou Gramm's singing is of course another strong point of this album. On "Foreigner" his excellent voice (sadly damaged in recent years by treatment for a brain tumour), is more prominent in the mix than on some of the band's subsequent albums and its quality, and Gramm's artistry, shine through very clearly.
The songs on this CD are a potent mixture of mainstream rock, ballads, and adult oriented heavy rock-an impressive debut by one of the greatest bands there has ever been.
A friend put me on to this album way back in the day and boy oh boy it sounds even better now than it did then (thanks in part to a skilful remaster.) I've always rated Lou Gramm's vocal skills up there with the best of them and that coupled with a bunch of really catchy tunes adds up to a must for any rock lover.