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As Foreigner sunk more deeply into the 80's, their career started to sink too. This album is even more bland than the last one, but at least the last one had a pretty nice hit on it, “That Was Yesterday”. The best the band could manage for Inside Information was “Say You Will”.

“Say You Will” has an OK melody that would just barely hold up on any Best of compilation. By far the biggest disappointment of that song however, and the rest of the album for that matter, is that the instrumentation is so dang bland. I mean, didn't I praise 4 slightly for being arranged nicely? So what happened? This is the typical, toneless keyboard nonsense that plagued radio in the 80's. At first the bouncy keyboards and guitars in the chorus are sort of fun, but it doesn't take long for that to run its course and start becoming dull.

“I Don't Want to Live Without You” was one of the album's hits, but that only shows that people in 1987 were really into the dullest ballads imaginable. It doesn't have a melody to speak of, and its instrumentation is nothing but late-80's ultra-polished Adult Contemporary nonsense. You already know what it sounds like without even hearing it.

The band tried one other ballad on the album, “Out of the Blue”, and it's even worse than “I Don't Want to Live Without You”. As each second of that song goes by, the bland guitars, dead drum beat, and toneless melody start to eat at my brain like acid. The horrendous quality of this album's ballads is why Foreigner should just stick to rockers - they might be equally bland and generic, but at least they give me an excuse to tap my foot.

The slick album opener “Heart Turns to Stone” is definitely one of the better generic rockers, one that conjures up a sort of Rocky-style montage; “Counting Every Minute” probably isn't slick enough for that, perhaps more a 'smoky bar with mullet-headed bikers' montage - hell yeah! And then there's a sort of attempt at teen/pop with “Face to Face”, which steals the bassline from “Material Girl”, and that's pretty much the only thing about that song that engages my ear.

The worst song on the album is without question the title track, which handily steals the 'bad 80s electrogarbage' title from Phil Collins' “Sussudio”. It's not only a poorly-written song, but it's depressing to realise that musicians from the decade I was born wrote such crap ... ugh, I wasn't expecting much from Foreigner in the first place, but I thought they were at least beyond stuff like that.

In conclusion, this album is awful - it's pretty much the reason everyone says that the late-80's were the nadir of pop music. Well, I've actually listened to solo-Styx albums and whilst some of those were even worse, Foreigner's Inside Information is definitely in the same class.

[Footnote: Don Ignacio's Blog supplements this Review with a bonus track-by-track commentary]

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Posted: Tuesday 26th Feb 2019 3:00 PM

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album review
It was the 90's, and the gods of rock'n'roll permitted formerly awesome 70's bands (or in Foreigner's case, formerly sucky bands) to return to their guitar/rock origins.

However, Foreigner's transition to the 90's wasn't that abrupt - they were still heavily relying on formulaic power ballads and those loud-ass stadium drums.

At least they toned down the keyboards ... on Unusual Heat they're either so faint that you can barely make them out, or they're more hardened electric pianos (I didn't like Foreigner's bland synthesizer tones all that much on their 80's albums, but the lack of keyboards did make a few of their power ballads seem under-orchestrated. Not that orchestrating them more would've helped matters - they would've still sucked).

Unfortunately for Foreigner, they were universally considered to be dinosaurs by the 1990's, which means that there was no way that Unusual Heat was going to generate any mass appeal. The album only made it as far as No.117 on the charts, with some critics attributing that to the absence of lead singer Lou Gramm. But I don't think that would've made any difference (Gramm had been replaced with the similar sounding Johnny Edwards - I didn't even notice that was until I read it on Wikipedia - I suppose Edwards can't hit some of the notes as well as Gramm, but they're both pretty dastardly).

The only people who still cared about Foreigner's style of guitar/rock were those from the 70's who had just undergone a decade's worth of keyboard-driven disillusionment. Newly-emerged music fans didn't get this album, because they were well aware from perusing their father's music collection that Foreigner sucked.

This album sucks, too, and in all the usual ways. It's a lot like the band's 70's albums, except it doesn't have any definitive show-stopping hits on it. Sure, there are one or two songs that come close (namely “Moment of Truth”, and the title track), but they don't quite make it enough to give me the desire to listen to them again ... “Moment of Truth” uses a generic but somewhat catchy riff, and its chorus generates some steam. And the title track easily has the album's best melody, but even that's a far cry from the band's “Cold as Ice” glory days.

Other than those two tracks, the songs range from bland toe-tappers to forgettable power ballads. The opening “Only Heaven Knows” is a good early indication of how lame this album is - it's a completely forgettable but mildly enjoyable polished guitar/rocker with lead vocals that are boringly over-sung. And the second song “Lowdown and Dirty” is a similar story. And anyone but the most strident fans of 90's guitar/rock or middle-aged men would like the rest - anyone else would just yawn.

That said, an album full of forgettable but mildly enjoyable toe-tapping guitar rockers should be enough to earn it a rating of 3 stars, but there is a bit of a surprising over-reliance on power-ballads here. Five of the eleven songs fit that bill. The only one that doesn't bore me to tears is “When the Night Comes Down”, which has a surprisingly energetic chorus. But I'd pass on the others.

I'm not sure who I'd recommend this album to, if anyone. I suppose if you thought I was being rather pigheaded when reviewing the band's classic 70's albums and you really like their guitar/rock sound, then you might give Unusual Heat a whirl if the mood strikes you. But with the lack of clear hits like “Double Vision” and “Cold as Ice”, I doubt even Foreigner's most faithful fans would find too many occasions to play this (and the most strident fan would probably be too disappointed over the absence of Gramm).

So, only get this if you can find it dirt cheap somewhere, if you have to get it at all.

[Footnote: Don Ignacio's Blog supplements this Review with a bonus track-by-track commentary]

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Posted: Tuesday 26th Mar 2019 10:41 AM

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