Title - Questions and Answers: The Atlantic Anthology
Artist - Lou Gramm
To fill in the backstory for you, Lou Gramm had been recording with Rochester, New York based band, Black Sheep, since the early 1970s.
Releasing two LPs for Capitol, Lou Gramm met his future bandmate and songwriting partner Mick Jones in 1975 when Black Sheep opened for Spooky Tooth in Rochester.
Mick Jones was looking for a singer for his new band in 1976, and Black Sheep having split at the end of 1975, Lou was free to audition for Mickís new group, Foreigner.
Releasing their self-titled album on Atlantic Records in 1977, and featuring solid gold rock classics as Cold As Ice and Feels Like The First Time, Foreigner were an instant worldwide smash.
Going from strength to strength, the band hit a commercial peak in 1984 with the Agent Provocateur album and the chart topping power ballad, I Want To Know What Love Is.
The excellent Cherry Red Records (UK) has just released a quite fantastic new Lou Gramm compilation, Questions And Answers Ė The Atlantic Anthology 1987-1989, a wonderful 3CD fold-out digipak that is just perfect for fans of both Gramm, Foreigner and rock music of the 80s.
Disc One: Ready Or Not
1. Ready Or Not
3. Midnight Blue
5. If I Donít Have You
6. Sheís Got To Know
7. Arrow Thru Your Heart
8. Until I Make You Mine
9. Chain Of Love
10. Lover Come Back
Perhaps choosing to return to a simpler rock format, Lou Gramm released his debut solo album, Ready Or Not, in 1987. Produced by Pat Moran with Lou Gramm, it featured the hits Midnight Blue and Ready Or Not among a collection of songs that would not have sounded out of place on a Foreigner record.
Having come from a very musical family, Ready Or Not is very much a family affair, featuring contributions from Louís brother Ben Jr. on drums and his father Ben Sr. on trumpet.
The core of the band was Louís former Black Sheep bassist Ben Turgon, who make a significant songwriting contribution to the album, plus guitar hero Nils Logfren.
Lou also found time in 1987 to record a track for the soundtrack of teen horror flick, The Lost Boys.
I was always a HUGE Foreigner fan back in the late 70ís and early 80ís, so when Lou Gramm came out with his solo effort Ready or Not in 1987, I was all over it.
It was one of my most played albums of the 80ís and all these years later I have lovingly rediscovered why I played it so often back then!
Simply put, if you are (or ever were) into Foreigner, you will LOVE Ready or Not. Songs like the title track, Time, and Midnight Blue are great Rock tunes that sound just as good today as they did in the late 80s.
And with the ever recognizable vocals of Lou Gramm, you sometimes forget that you are not listening to Foreigner. Indeed, the second song on the album, Heartache, has the same exact sound that is typical of the quite a few songs on the first three Foreigner albums (Cold As Ice, Blue Morning, Blue Day, Love On The Telephone, et al).
For me though, the rocker Sheís Got To Know is a semi-clone of the Foreigner song Headknocker, but that is neither here nor there, of course.
Moving on and as much as I did not listen to the second side of the album (I had it on vinyl) as much as the first side when it was new, due to this wondrous new 3CD package, I have found that my favorite song on the album is the eighth track Until I Make You Mind (as it has a timeless sound that cannot be pegged as an 80ís style song, funnily enough).
Disc Two: Long Hard Look
1. Angel With A Dirty Face
2. Just Between You And Me
3. Broken Dreams
4. True Blue Love
5. Iíll Be Running
6. Hanginí On My Hip
7. Warmest Rising Sun
8. Day One
9. Iíll Known When Itís Over
10. Tin Soldier
Returning to Foreigner for 1987s Inside Information, Lou released his second solo album Long Hard Look in 1989. Capitalizing on the success of his debut, it was produced by Peter Wolf (famed for his production and arrangement work for Frank Zappa, Heart & Kenny Loggins), Long Hard Look built on the foundations set by Louís debut.
Just Between You And Me was another huge smash, making No.6 in the U.S. Hot 100, followed by the single True Blue Love, with the album concluding with a cover of the Small Faces Tin Soldier.
There are very few rock vocalists who can compete with Lou Gramm in full flight. If you need any proof of this, check out this second solo album by Gramm.
Sure it is a little too slickly produced, but then that is a so-called problem with most rock albums produced in the US during the late 1980s and early 1990s before grunge kicked in.
But on the plus side, it has great hook-laden tracks like the hit single Just Between You and Me, Angel with a Dirty Face, True Blue Love and Day One.
And aside from the admirable Small Faces cover (Tin Soldier), this solo sophomore album is actually well-balanced, given the hard-rocking Hanginí On My Hip, the catchy Day One and even the emotional ballad Iíll Know When Itís Over.
After this release, however, things turned sour as Gramm joined Shadow King and would never again be united with Foreigner.
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)
Although only recording two solo albums for Atlantic, a third disc gathers together some of his Atlantic-era rarities, including two versions of Lost In The Shadows (The Lost Boys) from the aforementioned soundtrack.
Ready Or Not is represented by a Rock Remix, an Extended Dance Remix and an Instrumental Remix whilst hit single Midnight Blue was issued in various formats, including a very collectible transparent blue 12 inch single, which featured an Extended Remix of the track.
A single edit of True Blue Love has been selected from Long Hard Look and to promote Louís 1987 debut, Atlantic Records released the very rare and highly collectible LP, Questions And Answers, a promotional album distributed to radio stations featuring Lou interviewed by Dan Neer as he discusses the genesis of the Ready Or Not record, and his career to date, in 1987.
Official 3CD Purchase Link