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Cat Stevens|Foreigner

Foreigner

Cat Stevens

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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.
© William Ruhlmann /TiVo

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Foreigner

Cat Stevens

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1
Foreigner Suite (Full Version)
00:18:20

Bernard Purdie, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Patti Austin, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Tasha Thomas, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Phil Upchurch, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Cat Stevens, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Recording Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Paul Martinez, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Gerry Conway, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Jean Roussel, String Arranger, Bass Guitar, Piano, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Bobak, Additional Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Middleton, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Barbara Massey, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1973 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

2
The Hurt
00:04:19

Cat Stevens, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Mike Bobak, Additional Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Middleton, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1973 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

3
How Many Times
00:04:29

Cat Stevens, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Mike Bobak, Additional Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Middleton, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1973 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Later
00:04:46

Cat Stevens, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Mike Bobak, Additional Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Middleton, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1973 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

5
100 I Dream
00:04:09

Bernard Purdie, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Phil Upchurch, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Cat Stevens, Producer, Clarinet, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Paul Martinez, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Bobak, Additional Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Middleton, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1973 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

Album Description

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.
© William Ruhlmann /TiVo

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