SP 4391 Foreigner
Produced by Cat Stevens
Released on July 1973
UK CHART POSITION #3 . . . US CHART POSITION #3 . . . GOLD RECORD (8/1/73)
Find it at GEMM
SP 4391 cover  

T he restlessness of his last record turns to frustration on Foreigner. The album is notable (infamous?) for the side-long albatross, “Foreigner Suite,” which finds Cat Stevens branching into the long-form composition familiar to progressive rock fans at a time when the singer was at his least inspired, mired in the trappings of disco (wah-wah guitars, soulless orchestral flourishes and female backing singers), and minus his right hand (guitarist Alun Davies). Although over the course of eighteen minutes the sketches for a few good songs emerge, Stevens’ epic about (anybody wanna guess?) little ‘ol L-O-V-E sounds like the half-baked stuff that Elton John cranked out to fill the space between hits. Of course, Stevens didn’t have to worry about padding around the good stuff, since there isn’t any on Foreigner. The second side consists of shorter songs that show Stevens struggling in a medium he until recently had mastered. Since his next album, Buddha and the Chocolate Box, is as good as this album is bad, it’s not a question of the songwriter forgetting how to write good music. One look at the lyric sheet (originally printed on cardboard thick enough to pass for plywood in a weighty package designed to atone for the lightweight stuff inside) pinpoints the problem: the singer isn’t a happy Cat. On “The Hurt” -- which was selected as the single, not by stepping forward so much as the other songs stepping back -- what passes for optimism are lines like “Until I got hurt, I didn’t know what love is” (apparently bad love and bad grammar go hand in hand). “How Many Times” finds the singer wondering “How many times must I get up look out and see the same old view.” No wonder that, when Cat sings on “Foreigner Suite” that “I’m over to that Sunnyside Road,” it rings hollow. The lone redeeming moment (save for isolated patches on the titular epic) is the closing “100 I Dream,” which finds strength in the darkness around him. So who would want to buy this album? Hardcore fans who can’t resist even a bad Cat Stevens album, folks who thought Elton John’s Blue Moves was a treasure trove of great ideas, and skeptics convinced that an 18-minute epic on love from Cat Stevens must be a passion play in the making regardless of what my know-nothing behind thinks.

SP 4391 back cover SP 4391 lyric insert SP 4391 picture label
SP 4391 back cover SP 4391 lyric insert SP 4391 picture label

TRACK LISTING

  1. FOREIGNER SUITE    18:16
  2. THE HURT    4:16
  3. HOW MANY TIMES    4:32
  4. LATER    4:47
  5. 100 I DREAM    4:10

    All selections written by Cat Stevens

CREDITS

CAT STEVENS -- vocals, piano, Fender electric piano, A.R.P., brass arrangement, R.M.I. electric piano, bass, acoustic guitar, organ, string & wood arrangement, synthesized guitar, clavinet, polar ink sketch
PATTI AUSTIN -- voices
GERRY CONWAY -- drums, percussion
PAUL MARTINEZ -- bass
BARBARA MASSEY -- voices
BERNARD PURDIE -- drums
JEAN ROUSSEL -- bass, brass arrangements, string arrangements, wood arrangements, electric piano
TASHA THOMAS -- voices
PHIL UPCHURCH -- guitars
Herbie Flowers -- bass (3)
John Middleton -- engineer
Mike Bobak -- additional mixes
Robert Freson -- back cover photo
Mick Rock -- cover photo
Roland Young -- coverwork

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK July 1973 Island LP/CS ILPS 9240 lyric insert
US/CAN July 1973 A&M LP/CS/8T SP 4391/AM8TC 0391 lyric insert, picture label, postcard
GER 1973? Island LP 86439IT  
US 1974 A&M LPQ QU5 4391 quadrophonic stereo
US   Island CD 842 332  
EEC July 2000 Polygram? CD 546 887 digital remaster
US   A&M CDLE 490 724 ltd. ed. digital remaster

 

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