Album Review: Double Vision

Double Vision, the aptly named second album from Foreigner [1], was an immediately successful follow-up to the band’s triumphant debut. With its big hit singles “Hot Blooded” and the title track, and well-received minor hits and album tracks like “Blue Morning, Blue Day” and “I Have Waited For So Long,” the album continued the upward trajectory of Foreigner in the late 1970’s and allowed them to consolidate a great deal of support. This particular album includes two live tracks, one of which does not appear on the album, as a way of demonstrating that this album’s success, coupled with the success of Foreigner’s debut album, allowed the band to develop a profitable reputation as a popular arena rock band, one they would continue to hold as time went on. The fact that the title of the band references the fact that this is the band’s second album and the double vision that results from intoxication with either love or alcohol adds to the level of interest in the album on a conceptual level, and hints at the concept albums that would be in the band’s future. A track-by-track review follows:

Hot Blooded: A rousing song about impassioned and aggressive masculinity towards a beautiful but reluctant young woman, this song was a big hit upon its release, and it remains a popular classic rock track. The band’s glorification of a propositioning of a relationship with a groupie is not particularly edifying, but it certainly represents a great deal of the image and reality of morality among rock & roll groups, and is part of a large group of songs about short-term relationships of convenience among rock musicians.

Blue Morning, Blue Day: This song became a minor hit and features a excellent instrumental track that dramatically portrays its subject matter of a lover’s quarrel that results in a sleepless night. The narrator of the song, facing a deep gloominess about a relationship falling apart, is looking for sympathy, and the song dramatically turns the song into a dark and passionate breakup song, avoiding the melodramatic presentation that would have been common in other genres.

You’re All I Am: This early power ballad an example of the sort of romantic anthem that would later give Foreigner its biggest hits, but this song wasn’t a hit at all. Instead, the song, which has a straightforward and lovely instrumental track, marks a dramatic break from the previous two tracks, showing appreciation for a loyal lover who helps the singer overcome his native loneliness, making it a touching and lovely track that reflects on a different side of “love” than the previous two songs.

Back Where You Belong: This song, a synth-based rock mid-tempo rock ballad, has a melodic instrumental track with vocal harmonies that belies the fact that the song has a kiss-off message not unlike “Blue Morning, Blue Day.” As an album track, it represents the sort of elegant baroque rock touches that would not have been out of place on a late Beatles or ELO album, but on a Foreigner album the effect is striking and demonstrates the band’s willingness to successfully tackle a wide variety of material.

Love Has Taken Its Toll: This song, like some of the other songs on this album, has a dark look at love, with a bluesy instrumental background aided with a classy saxophone solo and lyrics that describe a dysfunctional relationship. This is one of those tracks that seems to indicate that some relationships are far better when they are over, and presents a more pessimistic side of relationships when they have gone sour.

Double Vision: Taking a turn from the previous album, this song, the title track of the album, sings praises about the intoxication of new love. Even if the narrator is not necessarily in a good place, he is still definitely interested in being intoxicated by the beauty and charm of a lady because of the physical pleasure it gives. The driving instrumental beat increases the understanding that what is attracting the narrator is not a deliberate and gradual building of a lasting relationship, but a sudden intoxication that indicates a lack of control and foresight.

Tramontane (Instrumental): This song is a lovely and touching instrumental ballad, with guitars, synths, and the sort of feeling that would feel right at home in a movie score or the soundtrack to a Final Fantasy game, instead of as part of the second side of a popular rock album. The dramatic, almost “boss fight” elements of the song would have made this song a contender for best rock instrumental Grammy if such an award existed when this album was released.

I Have Waited So Long: This song, an acoustic love ballad, would not have been out of place in album by Cat Stevens or Gerry Rafferty or other singer-songwriters of the era, but instead it is a standout and lovely song about waiting for a lover who has yet to return. The gentle instrumental touches and jazzy instrumentation give an air of authenticity to the message of the song, even if that message is at odd with other songs on the album which have a much more cynical edge.

Lonely Children: This song, a driving synth rock album track, returns to a dark and aggressive vision of a lover demanding answers of a wayward partner who appears to be having fun and going on the run rather than being loyal to him. Within the confines of the song, it makes for a clever album track that sounds a lot like Styx, but in the larger logic of the album, it does not appear as if the narrator has the right to hassle his partner about loyalty and going on the run, given his own indiscretions.

Spellbinder: This gloomy but worthy album track talks about how he was blinded by a seductive woman when he was just innocently wandering through life, comparing the woman to a witch or sorceress weaving a spell on him. The song, with its melancholy message and its spare and syncopated drum beat, is a classic post mortem on being deceived and tricked by a lover. Again, as the last track in the original album, it clearly indicates that the cycle of songs ends on a gloomy and reflective note, but the material as a whole demonstrates that the narrator is not as innocent or blameless as he tries to pass himself off as.

Hot Blooded (Live): This live track gives a full-throated live version of the album track, showing vocals that are a bit rougher, and instrumental tracks that are definitely less refined. It demonstrates the sort of sound that would have been present in the early tours of Foreigner, and makes for a worthwhile artifact on those grounds, including an audience sing-along to the chorus at the end.

Love Maker (Live): This song is a competent track that would have made a decent album track in the vein of some of their other album tracks, which features the narrator begging a woman to let him love her and shake her soul, presumably in a physical and sexual way. Whether or not the appeal is successful in the context of the larger material is unclear, but without a doubt the song was probably successful in terms of the women in the audience on tour, who probably responded positively to the singer’s willingness to do whatever she wanted in bed.

Overall, it may be said that this song is a concept album, or at least a song cycle, that looks at a dysfunctional relationship from beginning to end, from the singer’s attempts to woo a shy and coyly flirtatious woman while in the midst of a difficult breakup, continuing through initial appreciation and enjoyment to more drama until a sad and unhappy ending where the narrator feels as if he was tricked and deceived into believing that his hormone-induced fling was actually a loving relationship and that she should have shown him genuine and loyal love. At its core, Double Vision is about how our desires for intimacy can easily blind us to the reality of the lack of genuine love for others is in our hearts and the hearts of those with whom we become entangled, a problem many of us can identify with all too painfully.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Love & Marriage, Music History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Album Review: Double Vision

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