ATC(X) 9732 Head Games
Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, Mick Jones and Ian McDonald
Released on September 1979
US CHART POSITION #5
Find it at GEMM
ATC(X) 9732 cover  

F lush from the success of their first two albums, Foreigner nearly winds up in the toilet on Head Games. Sure, there were the hits (“Dirty White Boy,” “Head Games”) and the heady sales, but lift the lid and you’ll find some unsettling stuff underneath. For starters, there isn’t another song here with hit potential; that “Women” charted at all should give Americans everywhere reason to pause. Of course the misogynism is old hat; if it didn’t bother you before it won’t now. What is alarming is the abandonment of the band’s epic arena rock sound for claustrophobic radio rock, no doubt accelerated by the presence of producer Roy Thomas Baker. As much as he helped The Cars get on the fast track, Baker’s skills often translate poorly to other bands. For every success he’s had remaking an artist (e.g., Alice Cooper), you’ll find one or two that he’s pushed toward colorless product (Devo, Jon Anderson, etc.). There was a punch to previous Foreigner albums that came from all six cylinders firing at once. By contrast, Head Games hardly sounds like the work of a sextet. What is there to “I’ll Get Even With You,” “Seventeen” and “The Modern Day” that a quartet couldn’t accomplish? The second side of music scales back the attack even more, retreating into its shell for likeable melodies that suggest a Mick Jones solo elpee. Winning moments exist, especially the Beatles/ELO turn of “Do What You Like,” but they’re probably on the wrong record. What happens here is a blurring of the line between hard rock and synthesizer pop, the oil and water of the ‘80s. Al Greenwood’s keyboards sound castrated, the mighty guitar riffs never arrive, and Lou Gramm comes off too cool and contained. Had they tried to replicate the urgency of the title track over an entire album, Foreigner would have had a winner on their hands. Instead, in an effort to shift gears and appeal to lighter tastes, Foreigner seems to have stalled creatively.

ATC(X) 9732 back cover ATC(X) 9732 lyric sleeve
ATC(X) 9732 back cover ATC(X) 9732 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. DIRTY WHITE BOY    (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm)    3:37
  2. LOVE ON THE TELEPHONE    (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm)    3:18
  3. WOMEN    (Mic Jones)    3:25
  4. I'LL GET EVE WITH YOU    (Mick Jones)    3:40
  5. SEVENTEEN    (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm)    4:43
  6. HEAD GAMES    (Lou Gramm/Mick Jones)    3:37
  7. THE MODERN DAY    (Mick Jones)    3:26
  8. BLINDED BY SCIENCE    (Mick Jones)    4:54
  9. DO WHAT YOU LIKE    (Ian McDonald/Lou Gramm)    3:58
  10. REV ON THE RED LINE    (Al Greenwood/Lou Gramm)    3:35

    CD reissue bonus track
  11. ZALIA

CREDITS

DENNIS ELLIOTT -- drums
LOU GRAMM -- lead vocals
AL GREENWOOD -- keyboards, synthesizer
MICK JONES -- lead guitar, piano, vocals, musical direction
IAN McDONALD -- guitars, keyboards, vocals
RICK WILLS -- bass, vocals
Geoff Workman -- engineer
Sandi Young -- art direction
Chris Callis -- front cover photo
David Alexander -- back cover photo
William Coupon -- inner sleeve photos

return to FOREIGNER discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US September 1979 Atlantic LP/CS SD 29999 lyric sleeve
UK September 1979 Atlantic LP/CS K 50651 lyric sleeve
CAN 1979 Atlantic LP XSD 29999 lyric sleeve
GER 1979 Atlantic LP ATL 50 651 lyric sleeve
SAF 1979 Atlantic LP ATC 9732 lyric sleeve
US October 1995 Atlantic CD/CS 82799 digital remaster
US August 6, 2002 Rhino CD 78198 digital remaster w. bonus track

 

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