Lou Gramm

Ready or Not

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Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm's 1987 solo album Ready or Not is a winner. It came at a precarious time for Foreigner, despite coming off the success of 1985's Agent Provocateur and the band's first number one single, "I Want to Know What Love Is." Ready or Not is rich with melody and snap, but its sound does vary just enough from Foreigner that Gramm can't really be accused of stealing from himself. The production by Gramm and Pat Moran definitely has that bright 1980s style. Gramm's main sidemen include guitarist Nils Lofgren, keyboardist Philip Ashley, bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Bruce Turgon, and drummer Ben Gramm. Side one absolutely sizzles. "Ready or Not" is a strong, hard-rocking leadoff track and it was a minor hit single. The melodic, lyrical, and vocal hooks on "Heartache" are massive and Lofgren's guitar solo adds an edgy bite. The Top Five hit "Midnight Blue" is a terrific pop/rock song; despite its hit status, it's one of the decade's truly underappreciated singles. Lofgren's rolling, effective guitar riffing and a captivating chorus make "Time" one of the best cuts. Foreigner helped create and master the rock power ballad, and Gramm utilizes that gift on the dark, ethereal "If I Don't Have You." Side two is generally a letdown considering the high quality of the first half. Fortunately, there are two exceptions, "Arrow Thru Your Heart" and "Until I Make You Mine." The commercial and artistic success of Ready or Not was a turning point for Gramm. Foreigner issued the lackluster Inside Information late in 1987, and Gramm followed that troubled project with a second moderately successful solo album, Long Hard Look, in 1989 and then left the band for a few years before returning.

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