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RECORD RACK

Foreigner Blasts Back : * * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty :

December 06, 1987|DUNCAN STRAUSS and Check List and **** Great Balls of Fire and *** Good Vibrations ** Maybe Baby * Running on Empty

** 1/2 FOREIGNER. "Inside Information." Atlantic. With its seventh release, Foreigner has blasted back to the future. That is, rather than continuing in the vein of the foursome's last LP, "Agent Provocateur"--a successful but odd, overwrought experiment gone awry--the band has returned to its meat-and-potatoes rock.

Not that Foreigner is simply recycling the sonic assault of such melodic rawk fare as "Feels Like the First Time" and "Cold as Ice"--though the single, "Say You Will," does recall "Double Vision" and the galloping chain saw massacre "Counting Every Minute" does bear more than a passing resemblance to "Hot Blooded." It's just that songwriters Mick Jones and Lou Gramm have aimed their artistic sights considerably lower than the oh-so-sophisticated and somewhat effete territory they apparently were shooting for on "Provocateur."

Actually, you might expect Jones and Gramm to be aiming their sights at each other , given the conflict that developed last year when Gramm released his first solo album. But their squabbling certainly doesn't seem to have hampered "Inside Information"--track for track, probably the most solid Foreigner album in years.

While Jones and Gramm's shaky relationship didn't sabotage the songs on "Information," many of the lyrics address romantic relationships gone--or going--sour.

Side 1 opens with "Heart Turns to Stone" (guy's jerky behavior finally extinguished girl's love for him), moves into "I Can't Wait" (sad guy searches for AWOL girlfriend in hope of resolving their problems), followed by "Say You Will" (head-over-heels guy tries to pin down elusive, indecisive woman), shifts into "I Can't Live Without You" (guy bemoans end of romance) . . .

Do we detect a running theme here, or what?

Jones and Gramm have a knack for finding the cloud in any silver lining of love. Not exactly the most upbeat view, but it happens to work nicely on these songs because Gramm has a grainy, lived-in voice that's well-suited for evoking the ache in these lovers' laments. And when he cranks up the passion in his pipes, as he does on "Counting Every Minute" and "A Night to Remember," he's still singing --unlike many other hard-rock types who've screamed up the charts this year.

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