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Gramm, Lou: Questions And Answers - The Atlantic Anthology 1987-1989, 3CD

Having gone from being AOR leaders, into chart sensations, Foreigner were suddenly a household name with the unwanted and largely unwarranted banner of ballad-band. Even with mega success, trouble was, however, brewing, with the band’s singer and co-songwriter Lou Gramm hardly shy in sharing his disgruntlement with his role within the Foreigner ranks. Hence, it was maybe little surprise when a solo album was announced, 1987’s Ready Or Not Gramm’s first offering outside of his main band.

Teaming up with Bruce Turgon, who had been Gramm’s pre-Foreigner band-mate in Black Sheep, the singer enlisted Philip Ashley on keys, his bother Ben Gramm on drums and none other than Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen sideman, and solo star in his own right, Nils Lofgren on guitar. The latter may have appeared to be a strange bedfellow for an AOR-ster but instead he proved the perfect foil for a singer par-excellence who was looking to highlight the tougher and slightly rougher side of his voice. Inspired by Robert Plant, Gramm was on top form with a selection of songs that took the spirit of Foreigner and beefed it up quite considerably with startling results. Right from the proud, strutting title track, through the pulsating “Midnight Blue” to the defiant “Arrow Thru Your Heart”, Gramm and his band were in inspired form. The middle track of those three recounted a conversation Gramm had many years prior with his father, who urged him to either go ‘all in’ on his singer career, or forget it and fittingly, Ben Grammatico Sr even shows up later on the album on trumpet, alongside Ben Jr. The song itself would break into the top 5 on the Billboard Chart, with the Ready Or Not album reaching a very respectable #27 and being greeted with well deserved critical acclaim on its release. Time hasn’t blunted its impact and fans of commercially tinged hard rock really need this album in their collections.

A few months down the line Gramm would provide the excellent “Lost In The Shadows (The Lost Boys)” for The Lost Boys film, with the OST featuring other headline acts such as Roger Daltrey, Jimmy Barnes and INXS but by the end of ’87 Foreigner was once more the focus. However, for many Inside Information was a damp squib when tasked with following the triple platinum Agent Provocateur and its predecessor, the near peerless explosion of 4.

Foreigner guitarist, Mick Jones, was on the solo album trail in 1988 but the Long Hard Look Gramm offered up the next year was a parting stare as he left Foreigner not long after. The album itself maybe wasn’t quite as obviously grabbing as Ready Or Not but what is telling is how it laid the foundations of the criminally short lived and overlooked Shadow King, where Gramm teamed up with ex-Dio and future Def Leppard guitar man Vivian Campbell and his old mucker, Bruce Turgon. Both feature here in a revolving cast that also features Dann Huff (Giant and uber-producer) on guitars, Peter Wolf and Gary Corbett (live member of KISS and Alice Cooper) on keyboards, Pino Palladino (The Who) on bass and the returning Turgon, Ben Gramm and Nils Lofgren. That less focused band-feel maybe explains the slightly less cohesive feel of the whole album but “Angel With A Dirty Face”, “True Blue Love”, “I’ll Come Running” and a smooth cover of Small Faces’ “Tin Soldiers” all prove to be hook laden, memorable melodic rock near its best.

Here both CDs come remastered and packaged in a fold out digi-pack but also in their own replica LP sleeves and together they make for a fine collection of songs that any AOR/melodic rock fan would be proud to own. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a third disc featuring a further eight tracks. Admittedly, three of them are different versions of “Ready Or Not”, two are “Lost In The Shadows (The Lost Boys)”, with a ‘vocal edit’ and ‘vocal LP version’, while we also get an extended “Midnight Blue” and edit of “True Blue Love”. In truth, while good fun, none of that is exactly essential, however, I must admit that the twenty-five minute “Questions And Answers - Unbanded Promo Album Interview”, which was released as a promo album of the same name to help promote Ready Or Not, proves fascinating. Admittedly it’s not something I’m likely to listen to often but the candour shown by a clearly aggrieved Gramm as he details why he felt under valued, and over looked by members of the Foreigner organisation is akin to a resignation letter by way of recorded and distributed interview. Having heard it, I’m now more surprised than ever that Foreigner continued on with Gramm for the three years they did post Ready Or Not before recruiting ex-King Kobra singer Johnny Edwards for the underrated Unusual Heat album in 1991.

Excellent though these releases are, for me Gramm would go on to top both with 1991’s Shadow King album. However these two albums stand up to most from a golden era of melodic rock and as such come highly recommended.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: READY OR NOT (1987)
1. READY OR NOT
2. HEARTACHE
3. MIDNIGHT BLUE
4. TIME
5. IF I DON’T HAVE YOU
6. SHE’S GOT TO KNOW
7. ARROW THRU YOUR HEART
8. UNTIL I MAKE YOU MINE
9. CHAIN OF LOVE
10. LOVER COME BACK


DISC TWO: LONG HARD LOOK (1989)
1. ANGEL WITH A DIRTY FACE
2. JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME
3. BROKEN DREAMS
4. TRUE BLUE LOVE
5. I’LL COME RUNNING
6. HANGIN’ ON MY HIP
7. WARMEST RISING SUN
8. DAY ONE
9. I’LL KNOW WHEN IT’S OVER
10. TIN SOLDIER


DISC THREE: SINGLE VERSIONS/QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (1987-89)
1. LOST IN THE SHADOWS (THE LOST BOYS) (VOCAL EDIT)
2. LOST IN THE SHADOWS (THE LOST BOYS) (VOCAL LP VERSION)
3. READY OR NOT (ROCK REMIX)
4. READY OR NOT (EXTENDED DANCE MIX)
5. READY OR NOT (INSTRUMENTAL REMIX)
6. MIDNIGHT BLUE (EXTENDED REMIX)
7. TRUE BLUE LOVE (EDIT)
8. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (UNBANDED �" PROMO INTERVIEW ALBUM)

Added: June 16th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Questions And Answer @ Cherry Red
Hits: 151
Language: english

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