Foreigner – Agent Provocateur (1984): Review

Foreigner_-_Agent_Provocateur

Produced by Alex Sadkin and Mick Jones
Label – Atlantic

Foreigner always were a half decent AOR band who clumsily tried to beef up their sound to a hard rock that was a far from convincing. When Mick Jones and Lou Gramm played to their strengths with a passionate pop/rock sound they rivalled anyone in their field. “Agent Provocateur”, their fifth long player is a perfect example of the inconsistent duality which blighted all of their preceding records. Jones and Gramm can write a decent tune, but their lyrics are too often clichéd, twee and in some cases verge on the banal. Attempts to amp up the sound regularly muddy the experience with tired riffs and unnecessary bombast. Supposedly a concept album about a spy who sees both sides of the story, there is at no stage anything that links the songs together into a plausible storyline, and the Jones and Alex Sadkin production effort is polished, diluting any essence of the soulful grit Gramm’s vocals attempt to provide.

foreigner a

The huge hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is”, is saved by a Gospel inspired chorus from the New Jersey Mass Choir and in comparison to many of the ugly power ballads of the decade has a genuinely uplifting appeal few others would share. “That Was Yesterday” and “Two Different Worlds” are almost as memorable, but the rest is sleek, slick and relatively sterile. Realising a formula that brought about commercial success on their preceding album “4” from 1981, this recording very much feels like a carbon copy aimed squarely at selling big numbers.

If the intended concept for “Agent Provocateur” was sickly overused lyrical sentimentality, then the band would consider this a success. For everyone else, it’s a wincingly saccharine set of songs.

5/10

Track Rating
1 – Tooth And Nail 6
2 – That Was Yesterday 7
3 – I Want To Know What Love Is 7
4 – Growing Up The Hard Way 5
5 – Reaction To Action 4
6 – Stranger In My Own House 4
7 – A Love In Vain 5
8 – Down On Love 5
9 – Two Different Worlds 7
10 – She’s Too Tough 5

I Want To Know What Love Is

That Was Yesterday

Two Different Worlds

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