Feels like the first time for original Foreigners Gramm and McDonald

Case study: detail from the cover of Foreigner’s first full-length
The self-titled debut album from Foreigner was released on this day (March 8) in 1977.
As part of a major feature for the upcoming new issue of AOR magazine, Malcolm Dome talked to original Foreigner members Lou Gramm (vocals) and Ian McDonald (rhythm guitar, keyboards, saxophone, flute, backing vocals) about the track-by-track creation of this pivotal melodic-rock release.
Go below to read Gramm and McDonald’s memories of Foreigner, 37 long years down the line.

FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
Gramm: “The first track I ever sang with this band. It became our calling card. And the song that really put us on the map.”
McDonald: “Hearing it being played on the radio at the time gave me such a thrill. It was our breakthrough hit.”

COLD AS ICE
Gramm: “This was a very pop-oriented tune. And the a cappella section of the song is just gorgeous.”
McDonald
: “There’s a magic about it that might be due to the fact we recorded it when there was a blizzard raging in New York. It’s a special song for me.”

STARRIDER
Gramm: “This was one of our big boys. It always got a great crowd reaction, and Ian did a brilliant flute solo.”
McDonald: “I always thought it was a bit overwrought. I’m not surprised it was very personal for Mick [Jones, guitar}, as the lyrics are about how much he wanted to be a rock star!”

HEADKNOCKER
Gramm: “The lyrics were really tongue in cheek, and it was a fun track to sing.”
McDonald: “It was an okay song, but I don’t have any real memories about doing it.”

THE DAMAGE IS DONE
Gramm: “It’s a very moody song, and one that was difficult for me to do. But it has an edge that I like.”
McDonald: “It has three sections, but they blend together very naturally. When I did the guitar part at the end, my amp actually blew up in the studio while I was recording it. But because we basically recorded the entire album live, I didn’t go back and redo the guitar. So, what you hear is the result of the amp giving up!”

LONG, LONG WAY FROM HOME
Gramm: “This is one of my favourite songs on the album, and it was wonderful to do live because the fans really took to it.”
McDonald: “It was my idea not to have the bass line come in until the second verse. It’s a nice effect. And I like the way Mick responds on guitar to my saxophone part. It’s rare for Mick to acknowledge another musician like that! I did all my sax parts in one session. My mouth was aching by the end.”

WOMAN OH WOMAN
Gramm: “You can hear the Beatles influence here on the melody. I really love the song.”
McDonald
: “We had problems getting this to work. Originally I played the acoustic guitar and Mick did the piano part, but it didn’t sound right. So I suggested we swap instruments – and we nailed it.”

AT WAR WITH THE WORLD
Gramm: “The lyrics were very tongue in cheek. This was never a serious song, and the pseudo radio broadcast here was so effective.”
McDonald
: “This was very much Mick’s song. The lyrics were about being angry and selfish, which sums him up! But Dennis Elliott also shows here what a great drummer he was. His playing throughout the album was just wonderful. He was the perfect Foreigner drummer.”

FOOL FOR YOU ANYWAY
Gramm: “This was a classic hard rock ballad. It had a true style about it. Very classy.”
McDonald: “I did the lead guitar part on this track. And there’s nice interplay between Mick and myself. Good song.”

I NEED YOU
Gramm: “This was something we loved doing live. It always got a great reaction.”
McDonald: “There’s a great bass line in here, and the backwards piano also worked. It only took me one or two takes to get it done.”
Interview: Malcolm Dome
The current line-up of Foreigner begins a UK tour (with special guests Europe and FM) on April 3 at Manchester Apollo. I Want To Know What Love Is – The Ballads is available now via Ear Music.