July 1981: Foreigner Blow Up with FOREIGNER 4

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

After establishing themselves among the biggest rock bands in America at the tail end of the 1970s, Foreigner was ready to kick things up a notch in the '80s. The rockers recruited legendary producer, Robert "Mutt" Lange, to man the boards for Foreigner's fourth album, and rebuild some of the momentum the group felt they lost amidst the relative success of 1979 LP, Head Games.

"Head Games was a disappointment," singer Lou Gramm told Rolling Stone back in 1981. "It was the first one that got away from us. The ideas were good, but we didn't follow up on them, and that was a symptom of our problem. It seemed like everybody had his guard up." Making the band's fourth album proved to be even more tumultuous, with two members of Foreigner--keyboardist Al Greenwood and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald--leaving the fold.

The resulting record, which changed from working title, Silent Partners, to simply 4, was released on July 2, 1981. The album was a resounding success, charging up the Billboard charts and parking at #1 for the week of August 22, 1981. After two weeks in the top spot, 4 fell to Stevie Nicks' solo debut, Bella Donna. A series of LPs took turns at #1, including the Rolling Stones' Tattoo You and Journey's Escape. Foreigner's 4 clawed its way back to #1 on the Billboard 200 over the week of November 21, 1981, and stayed there until Christmas Day 1981, when it was replaced by AC/DC's For Those About to Rock We Salute You. The record spent another three weeks in the top position over January 1982.

Blasting out of the gate with first single, "Urgent," the group revealed a softer side with second single, "Waiting for a Girl Like You." The tender ballad, featuring Thomas Dolby playing keyboards, was a chart smash, blazing all the way up to #2 on the Hot 100 for the week of November 28, 1981. The song that blocked Foreigner from the top spot: Olive Newton-John's "Physical."

Third single "Juke Box Hero" was a big favorite at FM rock radio, peaking at #3 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and crashing the top 30 to peak at #26 on the Hot 100 over the week of April 3, 1981.

Foreigner squeezed two more singles out of 4: "Break It Up," which also peaked at #26 on the Hot 100 in June 1982, as well as fan favorite and concert staple, "Luanne." which made its way to #75 on the singles chart in August 1982.