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Foreigner
     

Foreigner

3.6 3
by Yusuf (Cat Stevens)
 
Between 1970 and 1972, Cat Stevens recorded and released four albums in the same manner, using the same producer, Paul Samwell-Smith, and many of the same musicians, particularly second guitarist Alun Davies, painting the album covers, and assigning the records ponderous titles - Mona Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat, and Catch Bull at Four -

Overview

Between 1970 and 1972, Cat Stevens recorded and released four albums in the same manner, using the same producer, Paul Samwell-Smith, and many of the same musicians, particularly second guitarist Alun Davies, painting the album covers, and assigning the records ponderous titles - Mona Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat, and Catch Bull at Four - that usually referred more to the paintings than the albums' contents. Things changed with his next album, Foreigner, beginning with the title, which invoked his status as a tax exile, and the cover, which displayed a photograph of the artist. The recording itself had been produced by Stevens and recorded in Jamaica, with overdubs done in New York. A couple of Stevens' usual backup musicians, drummer Gerry Conway and keyboard player Jean Roussel had been retained, but New York session musicians like Bernard Purdie appeared and Alun Davies was gone. With him went the acoustic guitar interplay that had been the core of Stevens' sound, replaced by more elaborate keyboard-based arrangements, complete with strings, brass, and a female vocal trio featuring Patti Austin.

It's easy to look at the 18+-minute "Foreigner Suite" that took up the first side and accuse Stevens of excess and indulgence. What should be kept in mind, however, is that his peers in 1973 were acts like Jethro Tull and Yes that were penetrating the Top Ten and selling millions of records while creating elaborate musical suites, and that they in turn were taking their cue from landmark recordings like the Beatles' Abbey Road and the Who's Tommy. Call Foreigner ambitious, then, rather than indulgent. Actually, the suite is full of compelling melodic sections and typically emotive singing that could have made for an album side's worth of terrific four-minute Cat Stevens songs if only he had composed them that way. As it is, the suite is a collection of tantalizing fragments. But the album's second side, featuring the Top 40 hit "The Hurt," demonstrates that, even in the four-minute range, his songwriting and arranging were becoming overly busy. Lyrically, he seemed more concerned than usual with the vicissitudes of love, as if a love affair weren't working out, but as ever he struggled for a positive viewpoint while frequently expressing frustration.

On the whole, Foreigner marked a slight fall-off in quality from Catch Bull at Four, which itself had marked a slight fall-off from Teaser and the Firecat. The decline seemed more extreme, though, because Foreigner clearly was intended to be better than its predecessors. That's the risk of ambitiousness. A similar slight fall-off was taking place commercially. The album became Stevens' third consecutive effort to lodge in the U.S. top five, and it went gold, though it spent fewer weeks in the Top Ten than either of its two predecessors. (Foreigner was reissued as a remastered CD on July 25, 2000.) ~ William Ruhlmann

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Between 1970 and 1972, Cat Stevens recorded four albums in the same manner, using the same producer and many of the same musicians, painting the album covers, and assigning the records ponderous titles. Things changed with his next album, Foreigner. The recording itself had been produced by Stevens, and while a couple of Stevens' usual backup musicians had been retained, New York session musicians appeared, and second guitarist Alun Davies was gone. With him went the acoustic guitar interplay that had been the core of Stevens' sound, replaced by more elaborate keyboard-based arrangements complete with strings, brass, and a female vocal trio featuring Patti Austin. It's easy to look at the 18-plus minute "Foreigner Suite" that took up the first side and accuse Stevens of excess and indulgence. What should be kept in mind, however, is that his peers in 1973 were acts like Jethro Tull and Yes, who in turn were taking their cue from the Beatles' Abbey Road and the Who's Tommy. Call Foreigner ambitious, then, rather than indulgent. Actually, the suite is full of compelling melodic sections and typically emotive singing that could have made for an album side's worth of terrific four-minute Cat Stevens songs, if only he had composed them that way. As it is, the suite is a collection of tantalizing fragments. But the album's second side, featuring the Top 40 hit "The Hurt," demonstrates that, even in the four-minute range, his songwriting and arranging were becoming overly busy. On the whole, Foreigner marked a slight fall-off in quality from Catch Bull at Four, which itself had marked a slight fall-off from Teaser and the Firecat. The decline seemed more extreme, though, because Foreigner clearly was intended to be better than its predecessors. That's the risk of ambition.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/25/2000
Label:
A&M
UPC:
0731454688727
catalogNumber:
546887
Rank:
8048

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Yusuf (Cat Stevens)   Primary Artist,Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Piano,Strings,Keyboards,Electric Piano,Vocals,Clavinet,ARP,fender rhodes
Patti Austin   Vocals,Voices
Phil Upchurch   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Herbie Flowers   Bass
Tasha Thomas   Vocals,Voices
Gerry Conway   Percussion,Drums,Vocals
Paul Martinez   Bass
Barbara Massey   Vocals,Voices
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie   Drums
Jean Roussel   Bass,Strings,Keyboards,Electric Piano
Tasha   Voices

Technical Credits

Patti Austin   Contributor
Yusuf (Cat Stevens)   Composer,Producer,Contributor,String Arrangements,Brass Arrangment,Woodwind Arrangement
Phil Upchurch   Contributor
Herbie Flowers   Contributor
Tasha Thomas   Contributor
Mike Bobak   Contributor
Gerry Conway   Contributor
Paul Martinez   Contributor
Barbara Massey   Contributor
John Middleton   Engineer
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie   Contributor
Jean Roussel   Contributor,String Arrangements,Brass Arrangment,Bass Arrangement,Woodwind Arrangement
Vartan   Reissue Art
Roland Young   Contributor,Cover Design,Cover Art,Cover Assembly
Mick Rock   Cover Photo

Customer Reviews

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Foreigner 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
olskoolbrotha More than 1 year ago
His singing is brilliant, lyrics poignant, melodies lilting...I had his previous two albums, and I felt that Foreigner was a very natural progression from them. Your Cat Stevens collection is not complete without this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
AT THE TIME I HEARD "FOREIGNER SUITE", I WAS IN MY VERY EARLY TWENTIES... AND EXPERIENCING A LOST LOVE... WHEN I HEARD FOREIGNER SUITE I SAID TO MYSELF THAT IF I HAD WRITTEN IT... I WOULD THEN HAVE RETIRED FROM WRITING. GREAT STUFF.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Foreigner Suite is 18 minutes way too long. Stay away from this record