Thursday, July 28, 2016

Foreigner - Cat Stevens

Okay, so recently I've been on a Cat Stevens kick. I honestly don't know why, I'm not a fan outside of tracks here and there and the whole spiritual seeking aspect of some of his music. Now I don't plan on listening to anything Yusef before his pop music return, outside of A is for Allah (I'm not Muslim, and I  honestly wouldn't get anything out if it other than a curious listen). So when it came to picking a review I knew I had to do the album with one of the best A side long tracks ever. This album, number seven, was released on July 25th, 1973 and recorded the prior March. So I guess he was really moved by "black music" and because he was an outside attempting to make this music he called it Foreigner (but also because he was in tax exile). This album is also notable for having a number of musicians I am suprised to see on a record by this guy, Phil Upchurch, Bernard Purdie and Patti Austin.
  1. Foreigner Suite: Sitting at 18:17 I've as of this review sat through this over 50 times, play counter in last.fm, and I'm still not tired of it. This is one of those tracks I don't see going anywhere and will probably stand the test if time, for me. He also pulls out all the stops on this thing, using an electric piano, fender rhodes, and an acoustic guitar. This song starts out pretty strong, and pulls you in. There's an epic feeling to the piano and vocals lead. This also has drums and bass but is followed by the first instrumental section which completely changes the tone from epic ballad to upbeat and happy. When he comes back on the song continues to be upbeat and happy and is pretty great. I am pretty sure a Rhodes is played here. I love the keyboard sounds on the track and I love how the song builds. While the vocals aren't amazing I think they fit really well, and damn this thing has so many transitions and little turns and sections 10/10. I love the little turns and the sort of swirling part. I kinda feel like its being played on a carousel. I love the sort of James Bond instrumental with the funky guitar and fucking solid drums and tight as fuck. I also love the woodwinds and horns. This section could pass as a Bond theme, honestly. I love the four on the floor and the wahs of the keys. After the instrumental section it comes to reality with a soulful section. There are some phenomenal backing vocals from Patti Austin, Barbara Massey and Tasha Thomas in the choir part. I love it so fucking much. The idea that love is a liberating force is something I can whole heart-ed-ly get behind. This is probably my second favorite part for the fact of how large and marching and epic it is. The song gets spacey and reverb before coming back with a sort march of sorts, or at least I feel I could march to it. I love this part too, and I love the drum fills I assume are played by Gerry Conway (his only performance on the record). The man must fight for freedom is possibly more epic than the last epic part, and I love the strings here. Back to that instrumental before a fade out with a great string arrangement. Really I honestly can't believe anyone could make something this great. The song goes to a bit of a call back to the beginning, except this time the piano (electric?) And vocals really feels very emotional. It sort of builds the dies down, then builds up. There is a momentum to this part and it gets me excited for what's next. This part is amazing and, I know I'm sucking his dick, it I honestly love this. Guess what it changes again, but this time is a refrain (recall) of the introduction. I love that, the intro feels so much more powerful after going through that journey and experiencing all that we just did. There is a gospel feeling to this part, and this song is just so liberating. I feel like how did America not adapt this as a national anthem or pervert it as the women being America. This feels like it could fit that bill, but yeah. Like I just wanna salute Yusef during that part of the song. With 4 minutes left I really wanna listen to this thing again :D seriously. The "will you" part kills me because it transitions into the famous "Viva La Vida" section. This works so much better here, to be honest, but this is my favorite part of the song and it has this gallop to the drums. Its like you got here, you made it. There is a bit of a refrain before going full on into the finale. It continues this way till the end with him yelling out things here and there and then becomes an instrumental to the fade. This song is gorgeous, and 10/10. I love it so, and lyrically I eat it up like honey. It's so fucking good. All the little nuances and touches that happens than make it not a straight loop for 18 minutes, kudos Mr. Stevens. Sadly, this wouldn't be continued for the rest of the album. 
  2. The Hurt: Following the moster that is Foreigner Suite, we get this. I hear the soul influence here, but I don't dig it as much as the other track. I do like the atmosphere set by the electric piano on this track, but there is like a disconnect. Where the last track pulls you in I think this would have to be more along the lines of say, Win by David Bowie, in order for it to pull me in. Like I said this isn't that bad of a track, and the drums are pretty great on here, but there's just a disconnect for me.
  3. How Many Times: I guess this is the Herbie Flowers track that he has to play on for the record. This isn't that bad of a track, but again the steam was kind of spent on the title track. This also, which I found out to be true, seems like a rewrite of sorts of The First Cut is the Deepest. I prefer the New Masters track over this, but it isn't too bad. The worst part is it isn't that memorable.
  4. Later: The drums in the beginning remind me of a Paul Simon track, I can't quite think of. They also reminds me of, the more obvious, Shaft or funk sounds this was inspired by. I like the The girls, come back for a third time. And this is probably the most interesting track outside of title track. There is a sort of, he kind of nailed the urgency of the blacksplotation theme. I don't dig the transition as much, but it doesn't ruin the track for me. Now I don't think he nailed the magic of the blacksplotation theme, but he certainly did a great job of sonically copying it. Well it's more of a homage than a copy or stealing it. It is worth checking out. I do enjoy the string section though, it doesn't have the same impact as on the first track. I know I shouldn't compare, but it's still the same album.
  5. 100 I Dream: this track features on guitar synthesizer and clavinet, plus the good old acoustic guitar from Cat. There is a bit of a country twang to this, and it has a bit of soul to it. There is something that I can't quite put my finger on for this track, but I do like it. I think this is a solid tune, but like I said this took a few listens to click exactly with me. Like this is the closest it comes to begin great. I really think the combination of this sound and the "black music" come together pretty well here.
Overall I have to give this album a 7/10. I like what he's going for here, it's just that it doesn't work that well outside of the title track for me. There are moments, but a lot of the rest of the record is just okay. There is a possibility of a review for Mona Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat, Catch Bull at Four and maybe Izitso. I am looking at the first one listed as the most likely candidate. If you wanna check this out, go ahead. For sure check out the first track though.

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