The Police

Don't stand so close to Sting's enormous ego
*special introductory paragraph!
*Outlandos d'Amour
*Reggatta de Blanc
*Zenyatta Mondatta
*Ghost In The Machine
*Synchronicity
*Live!
*Every Breath You Take: The Singles
*Message In A Box: The Complete Recordings
*Certifiable: Live In Buenos Aires
Aaaaah, the fuzz. Fuzzin' up the smuz bluz. Are you with me, Dr. Wu? Oh yeah, I heard that up the ass.

I appear to be home from work today. I've been "tossing cookies" all morning, so I figure now is as good a time as any to write up some Police reviews, especially considering the prevalance of "cookie tossing" that went on at Police concerts in the early to mid-80s. Exactly what were these three intelligent classically and jazz-trained British musicians (+ American drummer Stewart Copeland, if he was in fact American) doing peddling their pop wares to the lowest common denominator anyway? And I mean me! I'm the lowest common denominator! A guy who enjoys a simple 4/4 rhythm, catchy bass line and delightful vocal hook, all of which The Police offered up to spades - and honkies too! One must assume only that Those Police felt that the greatest contribution they could make to the musical world at large was to combine all their frivolous influences (jazz, classical, pop, punk, reggae, ska) into one big melty cheese sandwich of FM goodness. But goodness 'twere! Energetic, moody, diverse and pretentious, The Police put forth some terribly good records in their day, even chalking up several decent-sized singles before the success of their dullest album, Synchronicity, blew 'em out of the water and made them household names. Then they busted up! During their reign or whatever though, they totally had the creativity vibe goin' on, especially considering they were all strung out on cocaine (from what I understand - at least STING was). The drummer, he swings and trickles. The guitarist, he enjoys to play in a reggae-like manner (against the beat), with oodles of liquidy runs and poop. The bassist/singer, he used to be a teacher and tends to be kinda showoffy about it, but he was a talented enough songwriter to (at least at the time) deserve his impossibly high self-image. Now let's talk about the albums, before I vomit all over the keyboard.


Outlandos d'Amour - A&M 1978.
Rating = 8


Punkish! A high-energy merging of simplistic punk rock, melodic reggae and good ol' late-70s pop rock, this record initially introduces The Pigs as a charmingly amateurish product of the new wave movement, until the diverse 10-song document reveals that there's a lot more technical prowess lurking beneath the surface than easy-sneezies like "Next To You" and "Born In The 50's" might make you think. Man alive, that sentence contained a good deal of words. Every one a winner. Every one's a winner. Recall that Hot Chocolate tune? It's about fucking!

So yeah, the reggae isn't that big a surprise, since The Clash and other early punk bands were influenced by the same stuff. What's really surprising is that these types of songs have the potential to be enjoyed by such a wide variety of people. "Roxanne" alone has the reggae, FM rock and punk credibility necessary to turn the dominant subculture in on itself. (?) And "Can't Stand Losing You"? I "can't stand not listening to it"! Ha ha! Oh yeah.

The only major league bitch a picky one might have with this first record is that it lacks that smooth glossy production sheen that grew to define their sound a little bit. This is raw, with almost an edge, even! And the singer sounds all high-pitched and phlegmy, like a young, angry Rod Stewart! Not all the songs are instant classics, but a lot of them are. Some folx, in fact, consider this the only really good record they ever made. I'm not one of these folx, though, so don't throw eggs at my funeral!

Reader Comments

hawkins@alphalink.com.au (Alan Hawkins)
An excellent debut, and a lot better than I was expecting it to be, the three singles off the album really didn't do much for me ("Can't stand losing you" irritates the hell out of me too!!), but the rest of it is great, especially the bluesy "Hole in my life" (man! can I relate to that song!) and the angst-ridden "Peanuts". "Born in the 50's" is a bit cheesy, though just when you think the album's getting a bit predictable, they give us the wonderfully offbeat "Be my girl - Sally" and "Masoko Tanga", a thoroughly enjoyable record. ( 7/10.)

wendavey@easynet.co.uk (Dave & Wendy)
Hey, we remember buying this when it was first released! The era was late punk, but here was an album that was truly different. Don't be fooled by the thrash of "Next To You" and "Peanuts" good though it is. "So Lonely" and "Roxanne" were the pointers to the Police's future over the next couple of albums. Good though the album may be, it's not a classic, but this is an accusation you could level at most Police albums. Magnificent in parts, great in others, but often let down by a weaker track or two. "Be My Girl - Sally" can wear a little after a few listenings and "Hole In My Life" and "Born In The Fifties" are pretty mediocre. Not a bad start overall though! 7/10

Timothy.Cunningham@washcoll.edu
Outlandos d'Amour is probably one of my favorite albums by the Police. It catches their high energy level and great musicianship. Next To You, So Lonely, Roxanne, Can't Stand Losing You, Truth Hits Everybody: all are Police classics. The amazing bass in Masoko Tanga by Sting makes this song worth listening. I just wish Andy Summers could have come up with a more interesting guitar riff for this song. Definitely my favorite by this band.

Melodie83@aol.com (Joe)
The best Rock and Roll band of all time I will say it again.the debut has some great songs and a few songs that should have stayed off the lp.Roxanne is a classic Can't stand losing you is also a classic ,great bass line by Sting ,Hole In My Life is also a great song, Peanuts is a good heavy rocker So Lonley is the best song on here the rest of the songs Truth Hits Everybody,Born In The 50's ,Next to you are great, the last two songs are awful Be My Girl has a great guitar riff and good chorus but then Sting ruins it by speaking some poetry about a blow up doll which is under his standard as a songwriter Sting is not Jim Morrison as much as i love Jim.The band should of written some lyrics to support the chorus and maybe a real song could of come out of it,the final song has some nice bass and drums but is so boring the only song on any of my Police albums I have to skip.I wish the band would of put some of the bsides like Fallout,Landlord etc .instead then it could have been a classic.The Police were amazing in that there bsides could of been singles they were so great, listen to the box set and you'll see what I mean. not a bad debut though a 7 rating

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
Some of you people would give this absolute classic a 7?!?!? This is a 9! A big fat 9! And also, I'm disgusted at the negative reception you guys are giving "Can't Stand Losing You." That song's the catchiest song on the album, catchier than "Roxanne" even. I love "Roxanne" too, as do I "Next To You," "Born In The '50s" and basically everything except that only okay last song. If you want to hear Sting attempting world beat, go to the song "Be Still My Beating Heart" from his solo career-- I should mention that I enjoy individual songs of his rather than full albums.

The Police eventually grew out of this punky spirit (in only two albums, actually) but they were darn good at it when they did act like punks.

imoss@northernlight.com (Ian Moss)
I was rather surprised when I heard this album to think that this was the same band that did "Synchronicity II" and "Every Breath You Take." I was also surprised that it was so good! I mean, Sting's voice does NOT lead naturally to punk, and despite a valiant effort, songs like "Next to You" and "Peanuts" sound sort of silly on the first listen. After many listens, though, these and the other songs become extremely catchy, much as skanky women become beautiful after many drinks. "Hole in my Life" is awesome, and I like "Truth Hits Everybody" as well. But the best song on here has got to be "So Lonely." One of my favorite Police songs, actually. "Now, no one's knocked upon my door/in a thousand years or more/All made up and nowhere to go/Welcome to this one-man show.//Just take a seat they're always free/No surprise no mystery/in this I call my soul/I always play the starring role/SHAFT!"

Can you dig?

jaimoe0@hotmail.com (James Welton)
Certainly one of their best albums, and it definitely gets the nod as their most energetic album. Only "Peanuts," "Born in the 50's" and "Be My Girl - Sally" are less than fantastic, and they're still not stinkers. Feel-wise (what a god awful thing to write) "Fallout" might have sounded more at home here than "Sally," but that would have meant that Sting would have had to finish writing "Be My Girl" instead of just leaving it as a catchy chorus. Someone above chastised Sting for not living up to his own high standards on "Sally." I believe "Sally" was written and narrated by Andy Summers. I could be wrong, but I don't think it's Sting's. It's kind of a funny song, and when has Sting ever been accused of being funny? I mean of being funny on purpose.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
A great, great album for its time. Is it rock? Is it punk? Is it reggae? Well, it's The Police. They had an unique sound. Outlandos would be my favourite Police album, if it weren't for the dumb "Born In The 50's" and the awful awful AWFUL "Be My Girl - Sally". The rest rules, though. Especially "So Lonely" and "Roxanne", which are my favourites. I dig even the instrumental called "Masoko Tanga" which it gets overlooked because maybe of its goofy title. 9/10.

grecod@comcast.net
This album was really way ahead of itís time, despite the accurate rant about the somewhat shoddy studio production. This monster fused a unique blend of different genres that had never been heard before 1978, at least not on public radio here in the states. In fact, other than their undeniable musical talent, these guys had probably done the best job of meshing different blends of influenced sounds together than anyone had pulled of since the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I guess unlike a few of the hippy era bands, these guys appeared to hate one another quite early, but they actually managed to lay off the pipe long enough to peak together later in their prime, unlike so many other great bands of itís era.

God it kills me to think of what some of these other smacked out fools couldíve done sober and motivated, thereís way too many examples to list up till now, if only they could have partied like a bunch of pussies like the Police, it makes me wonder what weíve missed out on throughout the years. Their burning desire to outplay each other really brought the best out of them until they imploded in 85 or whenever the hell it was. But as far as this album, it was original and raw, and it unleashed their early enthusiasm and energy, something it seems all the best in the biz did with their first albums. Anyhow, in my opinion, this gets at least a 9, though looking back it obviously was only a sign that the best was yet to come.

Add your thoughts?


Regatta de Blanc - A&M 1979.
Rating = 8


Much stronger and tighter-sounding, with less messy production, almost no punkish influence and some dorkin' tube guitar lines! "Message In A Bottle," who's with me? "Walking On The Moon," who remains with me? Sparse but full. Glossy but with a really tough, fresh drum sound. Reggae-bouncy (bu-kee-kee, bu-kee-kee!), but not to the detriment of the popular bliss available therein. The only real shiner is that there are two or three total throwaways -- most of them written by Stewart Copeland! They're CUTE, yes, but essentially novelty tunes, when you get right down to it. His tentative piano tune "Does Everyone Stare" fucking RULES (regardless of what I just said). But the other couple? I don't know - dippy riffs, boring singing, bloopydoo.

Most of the other songs are excellenterrific, though! It has a a very spacey sound like one you might hear in space. If I knew anything at all about drums, I'd explain why Stewart Copeland was so revered by the masses. As it is, I can only say, "Hey man! He fiddle-de-diddles like a jazz guy! It's all 4/4, but he doesn't just play like all them other rock guys! He does interesting things that really propel the song forward every bit as much as the bass and guitar!" There's something cool to mention about The Police. All three instruments were of equal importance in creating their unique sound. Every song offers you up several facets to focus on and enjoy because they were all so interestin at what they did. Listen to how Stewart switches back and forth between straight rock pounding and tippidy-snappy jazzy noodles. And how's about the lead guitar? It ain't no lead guitar! It's like a SUPPORT instrument, tossing in a few echoey riffs where necessary and minding its own business the rest of the time (except in the straight-up rockers, which aren't my particular favorite selections in the ouevre. "It's Alright For You," for example. No thanks.).

And that's enough for this album. Some people consider this to be the best Police album. Those people may be right; it probably is the strongest example of The Police's unique sound before they started freaking out with the drugs and bringing in tons of synths. But the songwriting isn't any more consistent than on the other albums, so I'm leaving it with an 8.

Reader Comments

hawkins@alphalink.com.au (Alan Hawkins)
The first Police record I bought and yet another damn fine bunch of songs. Apart from the overrated and boring "Deathwish" there isn't one single dud here. "It's alright for you" and "No time this time" were thankfully the last inept attempts at punk rock that these guys were to undertake, but they're o.k. songs too.

"Bring on the night" is an absolute pop gem, and "The bed's too big without you" was the closest they ever got to real reggae!

I totally disagree about Stewart Copeland's songwriting contribution though, I think the three tracks he wrote show a sense of humour and humility that Sting just does 't possess.( 8 out of 10.)

wendavey@easynet.co.uk (Dave & Wendy)
1979. The Police's second album was due. Would it be good - better than Outlandos? Were they a flash in the pan or something special? They had a new single due for release, and this would be the sign. One listen of the new single - "Message In A Bottle" - was enough to confirm that the Police were going to be a force to be reckoned with (no pun intended). That awesome guitar intro dragged you in, slapped you across the face and said "Pay attention, we're great and we're planning on stopping." The single was deceptive though, as the album was not as good as "Message" suggested. Like Outlandos, the great points of the album are truly great such as Sting's bassline on "Walking On The Moon". For us though, there are too many quirky songs. Stewart Copeland has three songs on the album, and one would have been enough. The vaudeville of "On Any Other Day" was never the Police to us - it should have been left to Klark Kent (although we quite liked "Contact"). The album showed that it was Sting that cut the mustard when it came to writing songs. 6/10

DSwalen@Concentric.net (Doug Swalen)
When I was 14 I spent two months living in Germany and France in 1980. Though I didn't know it at the time I was listening to a lot of pre-punk/semi-punk bands (Blondie, Pearl Harbor and The Explosions, Elvis Costello, Devo to name a few). I thought it was all rock and roll. Silly me. Anyways, at the time I wasn't the metalhead that I have now mutated into. I found Back In Black to be a pretty ugly record when it came out believe it or not.

One night I was near the French coastline and I was picking up a weak signal from the BBC. There was this spacey little song being played with these happy lyrics called "Walking on the moon". That tune got stuck in my head and is one of the two bands I still remember from my time over there. I knew of the Police, or rather I knew there was this band called The Police (I read about them in some magazine in 1979) but I'd never heard a song of theirs until that night. The other band was some new metal band that had this collection of gawdawful noisy songs from their debut record and they were being interviewed on Armed Forces Radio. That band was Iron Maiden. Funny how it would be another three years before I would start hearing those bands (and ultimately liking those bands) because of American radio.

nd941970@student.paisley_ac.uk (Neil Dawson)
I think the album is great but people never spell the title properly!!!

The official spelling has two g's in Reggatta not Regatta. How can i take your review seriously when you can't even notice an obvious thing like that.

Timothy.Cunningham@washcoll.edu
Regatta de Blanc is another great album, although it's not as good as Outlandos d'Amour. Starts with easily one of my favorite Police songs, Message In A Bottle. The only song I dislike on this album is No Time This Time; Sting's vocals sound way too high pitched and weird. I love the songs written by Steward Copeland, On Any Other Day is a great b.s. song, Contact has a great guitar riff, and, of course, Does Everyone Stare is probably one of my favorite songs on the album.

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
If the songwriting was rushed, as people say about this album (and XTCís Go 2) then the Police shouldíve done this much more often. EVERY song on the album is great. Copelandís novelty ditties are still engaging nonetheless ("Does Everyone Stare") and Stingís raves ("Itís Alright For You," "No Time This Time") are every bit as good as the radio hits ("Message In A Bottle," "Walking On The Moon"). "Bring On The Night" and "The Bedís Too Big Without You" are also two of the best reggae ballads ever made, and this is coming from a guy that isnít too fond of reggae music. And the title track is one of those songs that SHOULD be filler, but actually burns with that distinctive Police sound. 10/10

Melodie83@aol.com (Joe)
An improvement over the first lp.there are no fillers here.some people say the Stew songs are awful and make the album weaker not here.Does everyone Stare is pretty catchy except for the opera record playing at the intro,contact is a cool rocker and Any other day is funny. The Sting songs great of course Message In A Bottle,Walking On The Moon,Beds to Big classics No Time This Time is amazing the fake ending by Stew on drums with the ride at the end whoa!I love that song!Bring On The Night great also the bass and jazz druming Andy's guitar. It's all Right is catchy to ,the Final songs title track shows you why The Police are the best Death Wish is okay not great.If the great bside Visions Of The Night was included then this would be a classic great though one of the top three out of the five police lp's a 9 rating

danzig9@hotmail.com (Daniel Lawrence)
I really love this CD actually. Okay, dig this: See, I'm this metal dude. My main love is still metal but I do listen other stuff like Dylan, Ween, Jane's Addiction, Pixies, The Cure etc. Anyway, so over Christmas break my friend said I should get a Police CD and I decided on Zenyatta Mondatta which I didn't much care about for a couple months, but now I really like a lot more. Even though I'm a metal guy I started to like The Police a great deal. When I got Reggatta de Blanc, it pretty much affirmed my status as a fan. What do I like about them? The guitar tone, the perfectly simple yet fitting basslines, the groove, the amazing and creative and drumming, and those catchy songs!!. You can't go wrong with that formula, unless perhaps you have someone like Dave Matthews singing.

"Message in a Bottle" is so damned lovely even after the billionth time I've listened to it. The other outstanding tracks are "Bring on the Night" with that pretty lil' guitar line, "Walking on the Moon", "Bed's too Big Without You" and "Does everybody stare". I actually like "It's alright for you" even though it should have only been like two minutes long. "Contact" is cute but not too great. "No time this time" I thought was a fairly weak way to end it, but whatever. There's only three tracks ("No Time this Time", "Deathwish", "On any other Day") that should have been dumped, the rest range from good to great. A pretty high 8 from me.

jaimoe0@hotmail.com (James Welton)
This is the album that introduced me to the Police after seeing a video for "Message In A Bottle" on some PBS video show called Night Flight (I think). I hadn't heard the song on the radio yet, and the album had been out maybe a few months when I got it on cassette for Christmas and listend to it on my brand spanking new Walkman (man, I'm old). I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Up to that point I listened strictly to 70's FM AOR. Guitars were supposed to be loud, assaultive things, but Andy Summers was all about subtle texture, and it was fabulous! "Bring on the Night" and "The Bed's Too Big..." are my favorites, but I love Copeland's busy, propulsive drumming on the title tune... a feat he accomplishes without being a ham-fisted pounder. I abhor the fact that the album ends on the weakest song, "No Time This Time," but that's a quibble given the strenght of the rest of the album. I, too, love "Does Everyone Stare?"

Jcjh20@aol.com
Great record! I love the spacey, ambient sound this record has, and how the guitar isnt just a dominent instrument that represents the songs the most, but how it creates a echoy, moody atmosphere on some tunes, like "Walking On The Moon", the title track, or "Deathwish". "Message In A Bottle" is also a classic tune everyone should know! Plus, some punk-rocky tunes here and there (who the hell would ever think Sting wrote punk rock tunes!?) like "Its Alright For You" and even though it may be frivelous, i love "On Any Other Day"!! "Does Everyone Stare" is also excellent, being the most unique on the record. Overall, i give it a 9.

gray0187@tc.umn.edu (Jon)
This to me is their peak. All the songs seem connected, and it contains some of the finest two notes of feedback solo I've heard. In Bring on the Night, the whole tune but the bass drum stops and just a brief guitar note followed by feedback goes over, then a lower one drops in and more lovely feedback, and then the solid groove of Sumner & Copeland comes in behind and makes for a very nice payoff indeed. Classic stuff! A two note solo that is probably the best thing I've ever heard from Summers. He works better for me as a special effects man, and that's what he does here, producing his best riffs. Sting has some very tasty bass parts, and Stew is Stew, playing just right throughout. The lyrics are all kind of goofy and cliched, but they are sung well(not cheesily) and seem not to take themselves seriously beyond establishing mood. The only throwaway to me is It's Alright for You, but every once in a long while I have an urge to hear that song. The Copeland tunes are surprisingly good. You are right in saying Does Everyone Stare rules, it is the best I've heard out of Copeland for songwriting. I will also tell you the secret to the Police's coverup of standard pop tunes... shhh... come closer... Yeah, Summers just throws 9 chords all over the place and they sound all "spacey" and kind of nonpop. It works though. Funny, it just works. This whole record works for me, and oh yeah, the other favorite Summers moment of mine is that riff in Contact. Nice indeed.

I give it a nine.

mossinator@hotmail.com (Ian Moss)
I have to say that this album was a big disappointment for me. Prindle implies that "Message in a Bottle" is representative of the quality on here, but that actually couldn't be further from the truth--it's by far the most well-produced and COMPLETE song on the album. And that, friends, is the problem--most of these noodlings just seem like fragments, creative debris floating atop the sewage of Sting's consciousness. (Riiight...) I mean, the title track? "Eee-yooooo, eee-yooooo, eee-yo yo!" That has got to be the most annoying non-lyric ever created in the history of bassist-fronted British reggae/punk-influenced new wave bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. More to the point, there's absolutely nothing else going on in the song, other than Stew's drumming of course, which is admittedly breathtaking. Sadly, it's all too typical of this album, with songs like "Deathwish" and "Contact" that are so forgettable that I can't comment on them despite having heard them a dozen times. The faux punk songs are even more embarrassing than their equivalents on the first album. Even the supposed classics, like "Bring on the Night," "The Bed's Too Big Without You," and "Walking on the Moon" are a bit too minimal for my tastes. The production on this album is consistently way too soft and trebly, with the result that the music seems like it's practically on the verge of disappearing throughout the recording. The real tragedy, however, is that Sting succeeds in creating these amazing atmospheres in the aforementioned songs, but then doesn't DO anything with them! "Bed's Too Big" is the biggest offender in this respect, and wastes a fantastic title as well.

You're right though, "Does Everyone Stare" rules. VERY low 7.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
This is the best Police album ever made, hands down. Except for maybe "On Any Other Day", each song here is a winner. My personal favourites are "Message In A Bottle" and "Does Everyone Stare" which just RULE. This is a hell of an album, buy it today. 10/10.

Add your thoughts?


Zenyatta Mondatta - A&M 1980.
Rating = 8


Strangely, this album is both more and less commercial than the last one, rendering it, one might say, EXACTLY as commercial as the last one. I say "more" because of the instant pop classics "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," as well as a few other incredibly bouncy pop tunes that got a little radio play at the time ("Canary In A Coalmine" and "Man In A Suitcase," the latter of which got no radio play at all as far as I know, but I already wrote "a few," and the delete key is way over there). But then there's also three tunes that are either instrumental or DAMN CLOSE to being instrumental - seemingly done in the name of good music, but without a prayer of hitting the pop charts. They're almost like VAMPS (if that actually means anything) - repetitive tunes that draw you in and envelope you within their grip for a good five minutes before spitting you out a better person for the experience. Personally, I very much enjoy this record. Again, I can't say I love every single song (even the classic rock staple "Driven To Tears" kinda just bugs me), but their soundis still young and phresh (for the final time!), and the melody-writing, for the most part, is up there with almost any ol' 1980 buddy. "Voices Inside My Head"? Oh yeah! "When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around"? Sure it's just one simple riff played over and over again. But in a moving, echoey way! A GOOD way! Weigh? HELL NO! Whey!
Reader Comments

hawkins@alphalink.com.au (Alan Hawkins)
The police running out of ideas if you ask me. There's an obvious step down in the quality of songs here, most of which are just filler, and the production this time round is just atrocious, were these guys trying to use tape hiss as an actual instrument???

But dammit!!! it's every bit as enjoyable as the first two albums!!! infact, I read a book that gave some interesting facts about this album's recording sessions - apparently they had written very little material by the time they had reached the netherlands, where they recorded the album, their record company was also putting considerable pressure on them to come up with hit singles, add to this the fact that they chose a really shitty recording studio and had hardly any time to mix the album once back in England, and you've got a real rush-job of a record!!

Maybe that's a good thing though, as there's a wonderfully energetic, yet sparse feel to these songs, and the influences are well hidden this time round, though I guess "Man in a suitcase" and "Canary in a coalmine" are kinda reggae-ish, the rest is pretty unique pop music. ( 7 out of 10.)

wendavey@easynet.co.uk (Dave & Wendy)
What a strange album! Unmistakeably the Police, but you have gilt-edged singles such as "Dont Stand So Close To Me" and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da", sitting next to conscience tweakers like "Driven To Tears", or post apocalyptic songs like "When the World Is Running Down" (still a Sting favourite). Sandwiched between these songs are a few of Sting's weaker moments, plus the inevitable low spots such as Stewart's "Bombs Away" and "The Other Way Of Stopping" and Andy Summers' "Behind My Camel" memorable only for winning a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Were the Police running out of ideas? Sting could still write great songs when he tried, and the band were superb in concert, but this was the third patchy album in a row.... 6/10

gstarst@rsuh.ru (George Starostin)
Zenyatta Mondatta is the ONLY ONE of TWO records from BOTH the Seventies'/Eighties' groups I actually LIKE (the other one is Dire Straits' first album), so I think it deserves a comment.

Unfortunately, I haven't heard Outlandos, but I did hear Reggatta de blanc and Synchronicity. I'm not fond of these records. For me, all of Reggatta just sounded as a single, overlong and rather dull track. Hey, you HAVE to admit the songs resemble each other SO MUCH they are almost identical!

This album also suffers from the same problem (the first three tunes are very hard to distinguish), but not to the same degree. You have "Man In A Suitcase", which is a pretty jolly good groove; and there's "De Do..", which sounds pop, but is still quite catchy.

And there is also my favourite song by the Police - "Canary in a Coalmine"; I just ADORE that great guitar line in the beginning! Not that this is the Ultimate Record, mind you... but still, quite worth listening!

Timothy.Cunningham@washcoll.edu
Zenyatta Mondatta is my least favorite Police album, just because so many songs are horrible. I like Don't Stand So Close To me, a Police classic. When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best of What's Still Around is an all right song, that's a really long title! De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da is a great Police song. Voices In My Head is great. The rest of the album, well, just sucks.

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
Slightly boring at times, but if you listen to the boring stuff youíll notice the underlying tunefulness of it all, with a couple of completely flat exceptions. The hits are great, even though "Canary In A Coalmine" and "Man In A Suitcase" are almost entirely interchangeable. Thanks to the shortcomings, Iíll have to give this one a 7/10.

Melodie83@aol.com (Joe)
Here is where The Police rush a record out because the record label gets on there ass and want's a new album,you can tell it was a rush job.6 weeks I heard .It could of been an incredible record but it was not to be.Don't Stand So Close,De Do Do Do are great singles,When The World is Running Down is a great song with three chords repeated,Driven To Tears has great bass by Sting druming by Stew , Canary In a Coal Mine is great to that guitar line is cool.Voices in My Head is a classic that groove by Sting and Stew is great, but the song is to short.the rest of the songs suffer the same fate. Behind My Camel has a monster riff but it repeats and get's boring pretty quickly Shadows In The Rain is awful here Sting's remake on Blue Turtles was much better I guess the band was either sleeping or just did'nt give a fuck when they recorded this song,Bombs Away also is a good song but it's over in a minute the final song is a showcase for Stew's druming talent.I give this record an 8 for a classic the next record was

bgreenstein@nctimes (Ben Greenstein)
I give it a high seven. The whole thing is pretty interesting, but the instrumentals are among the worst I've ever heard. How did "Behind My Camel" win a grammy? Too short, and not hypnotic nor atmospheric. But the two classics (you know which ones I mean) are absolutely great, and "When The World Is Running Down" still gets a LOT of radio play, at least on my stations. Granted, "Canary In A Coalmine" is a little too stupid even for me, but "Man In A Suitcase" - pretty catchy. And to the idiot who says he hated "Bombs Away" - screw you! That's one of the better songs on here! Who cares who wrote it - it's a good song. On a decent album.

danzig9@hotmail.com (Daniel Lawrence)
I don't get it. I've listened to this record quite a few times but after the third track it just loses me with the exception of "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" (and now my review will be probably get even more negative than before, being that my dumbass drunk room mate and his ditsy girlfriend are annoying the hell out of me. I know what, I'll put on Reign in Blood--that will make them go!!). I can see the appeal to the Police, but they just don't do it for me. Sting can make some really neat basslines, and I know he really is a great musician, but it isn't enough. They have a nice sound, it's just the songs that are the problem. "Canaray in a Colemine" "Man in A Suitcase" and "Bombs Away" blow. The latter sounds like a children's song. There are some nice parts, but overall it's not enough. I give this record a 6 only because the first three tracks are great and I do admire the musicianship involved.

jaimoe0@hotmail.com (James Welton)
Well, this one is a little underwhelming compared to the first two, but it's still pretty decent. The big singles are just fine, poppy tuneage, but they don't sound as "original" as the singles off the first two. When those songs came out, nothing else sounded like that, and while "Don't Stand..." and "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da" have that unmistakable Police sound (1 part diverse influences to 2 parts Sting songwriting moxy) they don't goose me the way the earlier singles do.

The instrumentals seem under-developed (a result of the rush job on the album?) and songs like "Canary In a Coalmine" (which my damn sister played constantly for some friggin' reason) and "Shadows in the Rain" are mediocre tunes at best. Actually, "Shadows in the Rain" achieves a nice, dark, dank feel to it, and that probably saves the song. I like Copeland's songs in general, and "Bomb's Away" is no different. That Aaron Copeland... what a guy!

Have you all noticed that Andy Summers gets one or two songs per album where he actually gets to play a real, live, rippin' guitar solo? "Driven to Tears" has a tasty little break, and so does "Bombs Away." The rest of the time, it's all unintrusive texture and atmosphere.

Also, the end of "Driven to Tears" is another example of what a fine drummer Stewart is. He really is one of my all-time faves, a very interesting percussionist. He's like the anti-Mickey Hart. And that's my gratuitous Grateful Dead slam for the day.

gray0187@tc.umn.edu (Jon)
When I bought these first three Police albums, I started with Regatta and then bought the other two in hopes they would be as good. I was really disappointed with Zenyatta more than Outlandos. The drumming is great as usual, Stew tunes up those drums real high, and they are a big part of their sound, plus he is a high-hat artist up there with Wyatt or some obscure jazz guys people know better than I. Sting's bass is just crap here, though. There is too much going on in the tracks for his minimalism to sound good, and his vocals are getting cheesier in production and tone rather than catchier. And while throwing out literary references with all the grace of dropping a two-ton elephant may appeal to some, it is much worse than the lightweight introspection of his earlier lye-ricks--Walking on the Moon's were silly, but I expected them to be silly and I thought Sting knew they were silly. Maybe not.

On the upside, most everything is very catchy and has at worst a great groove to it. Andy Summers is trying to do a little too much it seems, but for the most part he upholds his chorusy delayed-out elder background guy vibe. Good stuff, but their previous two albums are less bombastic and more interesting to me. I'd give it a 7, a light one.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
A great album, although not The Police's best. I like Outlandos and Reggatta better because they're more raw. Some of the songs here are just zzzzzz....... "Voices Inside My Head" for example. I know it's weird and all that, but it bores me to death. Also the last instrumental does nothing for me either. The other songs rule or at least, semi-rule, although "Canary In A Coalmine" kinda annoys me. And "Bombs Away" too. But there are a lot of songs left to enjoy. "Man In A Suitcase" is one of their most underrated songs, it's so catchy! Oh, and the intro to "Don't Stand So Close To Me" is so excellent that first time I heard it, I thought I was listening to a Pink Floyd song. Duh! Anyways, I'd rate this album a 9/10.

_c3994783@wanadoo.nl
I really adore this album!

This album stand out from the other police albums by being more cynical in lyrics, more frantic in drumming and more dark in atmosphere. Also, it offers more creative songs than the previous albums did but it isn't totally bombastic over-the-top proto-sting like synchonicity. No, this album is a typical creative high for a band of great musicians (people tend to forget, busy kissing ass to comatosed heroes such as mark knopfler). Not only were they great musicians (especially Steward Copeland), also very intelligent songwriters and lyricists. Furthermore, with other albums, but mostly with this one they give you a beautiful kickstart and rush listening... perfect for doing heavy labour, writing your thesis or preparing for a conquest at a party later on! Man, what energy! These guys invented this! As upbeat and swinging any reggae would ever become! As lighthearted and intelligent any punk would ever get! The perfect mix. Although they moved away from the reggae influences quite a lot on this record, for god's sake!

If the police would be a starting band today they would kick the shit outta all these uninspired lamo brit bands following ancient roots, and would probably back on number one with their first album! Has aged beautifully, classic stuff!

Add your thoughts?


Ghost In The Machine - A&M 1981.
Rating = 8


From what I understand, I'm one of the very, very few people that would rate this one as highly as three that came before it. Synths and horns and whatnot are creeping in on the old reliable Police sound, and the songwriting itself seems to be all over the place with no cohesion at all. Yeah, the other albums were diverse, but this one just seems CONFUSED, especially on side two, which keeps jerking back and forth between dipshit pop songs and almost unnoticably minor somber pieces. But for me, that's fine. The bass lines on here KILL. Not literally, but close. They're incredibly simple and repetitive, but darn it, that's what THE FALL do, and I LOVE The Fall! The guitar might be a bit too quiet in the mix on some tracks, but the moodiness and solid bass riffage keeps me grooving and hanging on from beginning to end, with the exception of "Rehumanize Yourself," "One World (Not Three)" and the boring chorus of the otherwise beautiful "Invisible Sun." The hits were the spooky "Spirits In The Material World" (which, at age eight, I could have sworn was saying, "Whee! I swear it's in the material, whoa!") and the decaffeinated pop gem "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." I say buy it. Police purists might despise the intrusion of the outside instruments, but very few bands this messed up on narcotics can pull off an album this interesting.

Say, did I mention that it took me a good twelve years to realize that that little digital blip on the cover is a portrait of the band members? That's really neat!

Reader Comments

hawkins@alphalink.com.au (Alan Hawkins)
Like you said Mark, this is where the band became more diverse, and it works well for most of the time.

The production is slicker, though not necessarily better, the vocals are sometimes buried in the mix and Andy Summers seems to have changed his guitar style for some stupid reason. Rather than the repetitive, echoing riff that we all know and love, he either mucks around with feedback and distorted howling ("Too much information" "Demolition man") or is seemingly absent altogether ("Spirits in a material world".)

Sting is starting to mature as a songwriter and the lyrics are much more political, though "One world..." is just a bit too patronizing. Yet he can still write a decent pop song - man!!! can he ever!!! "Every little thing she does is magic" is the most beautiful pop song ever written by a mortal being!!!!!!! Things start to slacken towards the end though, "Omega man","Secret journey" and "Darkness" are strangely unsatisfiing, not enough memorable hooks and melodies perhaps?? I don't know enough about music to really comment. This isn't a bad record by any means, you just get the feeling they could've done a bit more with it. ( 7 out of 10.)

wendavey@easynet.co.uk (Dave & Wendy)
At last, in our view the nearest the Police came to a classic album. Recorded in the relaxed surroundings of Monstserrat the Police moved away from their silly album titles and seemed to distance themselves from the "white reggae" tag. All the songs on this album are worthy of their inclusion. The poppy "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and the gloomy "Invisible Sun" were great singles and poles apart in style. Unsatisfied with Grace Jones' version, the band storm through a great version of "Demolition Man" and the back end of the album instead of being crammed with filler, actually has some good songs with "Omegaman", "Secret Journey" and "Darkness". Some don't like the album because of the move away from the traditional Police sound, with its horns and saxaphone, but to us that's its strength. Our favourite Police album. 9/10

midiotjim@gate.net (Jim Meeks)
Having all the Police CD's, I think Ghost in the Machine is quite obviously the best of the albums, by far.

The reason: it's quite different. The horns, the synthesizers, the even-better-than-advertised drums, bass and guitar; this albums rules. This album has got to be in top 3 in my collection (i have over 300 CD's).

You can't find a bad song in the mix. Sure, most make no sense whatsoever lyrically (although they're still poetic and fortunately, there's no songs in here about killing your mother) and the music skips hurridly from haunting, moody electronic to ballad to pop French to reggae to this and to that. I'll agree with, the album has NO cohesion at all but it still works...which shows you just how good an album it is.

Even the songs on the album not written by the talented Sting are good.

Timothy.Cunningham@washcoll.edu
Ghost in the Machine, although not my favorite Police album, still ranks up there. They move into a more jazzy feel on this album and this transistion makes it cool. Spirits in the Material World, Every LIttle Thing She Does Is Magic, Hungry For You, Too Much Information, Rehumanize Yourself, One World all are pretty kick ass tunes. Jazzy too. The rest of the album is all right, but nothing greatly special.

jferrante@mccabe.com (Jason Ferrante)
Yes, it's a radical departure from the first three albums. Yes, the synths and horns tend more towards pop than the first three albums ("Message In A Bottle," De Doo Doo Doo...," and "Don't Stand So Close To Me" notwithstanding.) And yes, the production is slicker. It doesn't matter - this is the best Police album. Period. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is the third best song in the Police catalog (behind "Synchronicity 2" and "Voices Inside My Head"), "Invisible Sun" is a classic dirge, and the "filler" songs "Omegaman" and "Secret Journey" are among the boys' 10 best. And speaking of 10, that's what I give this album.

Melodie83@aol.com (Joe)
A classic there is not one bad song on this album I was 8 in 1982 when this album came out and I knew only the singles but when I bought the album years later I was floored.Invisible Sun is so catchy Every Little Thing is such an incredible song the emotion the spine tingling of Sting's vocal the keyboard stew's african drumming.Spirts In The Material world is also wonderfull.Now why is this the polices best album you ask? cause there is not one stinker on here.Omegaman is Andy's best song ever Too Much Information is also such a catchy tune One World is great also Sting's bass lines singing Stew's cymbal playing wow!Secret Journey is wonderfull to.If you buy one Police album get this one and then Syncroncity you won't be sorry a perfect 10.

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
Opens with three downright Police classics (How come every reviewer bashes "Invisible Sun," but everyone else loves it? Wilson & Alroy and Brian Burks also put the song down, and I canít see whyóitís a perfectly well-constructed track) and follows those classics with three of the messiest, weirdest Police songs ever. Then the album goes into a bunch of reggae weirdo songs and a few classics ("Omegaman"). Despite the fact that an album like this SHOULDNíT be able to work, it doesóto a point. 8/10

bgreenstein@nctimes.net (Ben Greenstein)
A low seven. The first three tracks are deceptive - somewhat dark pop music, something which I really like from any band. However, after that, the band goes into about five songs of somewhat boring funk. The best of these is "Demolition Man" (still a favourite, though it does go on for too long), and the worst is the stupid french one. Then there are the last three songs, which rule almost as much as the first three. Especially "Secret Journey."

And what's up with you and "Invisible Sun"? The chorus is perfectly fine - how can you not like those cool synth-strings? That's the best part of the song! I, personally, think it would have made a great album-opener, with that cool count-off. If you're going to put any song down for having a bad chorus, bash "Omegaman." Sure, it's not boring, just ugly. A good song, though.

All in all, though, this is a dissapointing album. I even like funk - it's just that this is boring, uncreative funk. It has a good groove, but doesn't do much over it. Still, it's a Police album, so it rates relatively high.

imoss@northernlight.com (Ian Moss)
I give it a 6, man. I never liked "Spirits in the Material World," and "Every Little Thing," though a good song, is overexposed. Two big pleasant surprises for me on this album: "Invisible Sun," which I had never heard before getting the album and is GREAT (the chorus is maybe a little less atmospheric than the rest of the song, but not enough that it interferes with my enjoyment); and "Omegaman," a slightly messy song but with an incredible, heroic hook. As far as I'm concerned, the chorus to "Omegaman" could be the whole song. The other tracks, with the exception of "Demolition Man," suck. Suck. No good at all. That's why it's a 6. You put sucky songs on an album, you get a 6. That's the American Way, dammit!

ThenamesPaul@aol.com
I found this album A difficult first listen, all the discordant horns & keyboards et. al. But, after repeated listens, I've grown to like the album. What's weird for me was the fact that I found the best track (in my humble opinion) was written by Andy (Omegaman). It's the one song I find myself going back to most often.

jason_a@earthlink.net (Jason Adams)
Abysmal, slick, and melodically incompetent. The only exceptions are "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and the count-off that opens (the terrible) "Invisible Sun". I bought this for fifty cents, so I'm not exactly complaining, but this is really self-indulgent, dull, and rackety. Okay?

jaimoe0@hotmail.com (James Welton)
I like this Ghost In the Machine album quite a lot. They definitely expanded their sound, with "Spirits In the Material World" sounding not much like anything they'd done before. On the whole, this album sounds like the work of a group maturing and broadening their sound... instead of a group of guys who didn't much like each other and probably were already on their way to falling apart as a band. I've read over and over that these sessions and the sessions for the next album were not real easy. Could this explain the darkness of the album? Then again, lyrics about warfare, isolation and despair would do that, too, wouldn't they?

Actually, this album might have the most dizzying mix of emotions of any Police album. You get the poppy positivity of "Every Little Thing," "Rehumanize Yourself" and the carnal intent of that French one alongside such serious Sumner offerings as "Invisible Sun," "Spirits," "Secret Journey" and such-like. The album's schizophrenia has been mentioned above, and I agree with that assessment. I also agree that it works for this album.

"Demolition Man" is this album's "Summers as guitar hero" offering. I quite like that song, although it's a minute or two too long. Ranks just behind "Reggatta" as my favorite Police release. Recommend it to Joe Pernice. (The whimsy of rhyme.)

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
This album is The Soft Parade of The Police. Not only because it contains horns and all that crap, but also because the songwriting is one level lower. Except for the three first songs, which are just GREAT, nothing comes that close. I like a lot "Too Much Information" and "One World (Not Three)" but it's a chore to listen to this album on the whole. The songs, taken on their own, are enjoyable though, and I would feel guilty if I give this album less than a 8/10. Not the best place to start with the policemen, though.

Add your thoughts?


Synchronicity - A&M 1983.
Rating = 7


Though this was probably their most successful album (thanks to the smash successes of "Every Breath You Take," "King Of Pain," "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "Synchronicity II"), it's not quite as mesmerizing as the others. With too little energy and too few memorable melodies, it almost sounds like adult contemporary or smooth jazz in places. The hits are very well-written though, no matter how completely devoid of verve they are. Maybe it was meant to be a more "romantic" album or something? I don't know. Side one's nearly a complete throwaway, whichever way I look at it. Sting's Dream Of The Blue Turtles was a much better effort. Buy that one instead. But feel free to ignore the rest of his solo output. Yick!
Reader Comments

hawkins@alphalink.com.au (Alan Hawkins)
A terrific swansong album, even if it was never intended that way. I agree that the mood is overall quite laidback, and that side one sounds like a bunch of throwaways, though there's more to it than that. "Walking in your footsteps" and "O my god" have a very unsettling and rather errie atmosphere lying beneath their low-key arrangements, with lyrics dealing with isolation, depression and the threat of nuclear war, it's very hard to think of these songs as just entertainment. The oblique, delirious humour of "Mother" only makes it more confronting. Side two is more song-orientated and is simply unforgettable!!! "Every breath you take" is a moving anecdote of obsession, whilst the mood is lifted for a while by the FM rock of "King of pain", "Wrapped around your finger" sees the band at their most tranquil, and I get absolute shivers up my spine every time I hear "Tea in the sahara" - simply a beautiful song, if only the fade-out ending to that song could last....oh, half an hour longer!!! the album finally wraps up with "Murder by numbers", a curious song that sees Sting telling us to go out and murder somebody, how lovely! kind of a dumb way to end the album, but a good song anyway. Could any-one imagine the police making another album after this one?? I can't, this is the best they were going to get and it's nice to know they never outstayed their welcome. ( 9 out of 10.)

wendavey@easynet.co.uk (Dave & Wendy)
The album that made them huge, but why? Probably the inclusion of "Every Breath You Take" which recently achieved it's five millionth play on US radio, equivalent to around 30 years worth of continuous airplay. The sound on this album is so far removed from anything on Outlandos or Reggatta you might even think it was a different band. Check out Police Live! which contrasts a 1979 concert with a 1983 one. The difference is amazing - one raw and dynamic, the other polished and controlled. There are a clutch of other very strong songs on the album namely - the two "title" tracks, the ethereal "Wrapped Around Your Finger", the soul-baring "King Of Pain", and the lighter-than-air "Tea In The Sahara". Very much a Sting album with Summers' primal "Mother" and Copeland's jokey "Miss Gradenko" sounding out of place - especially the latter. 8/10

Timothy.Cunningham@washcoll.edu
As for Synchronicity, I think it's an all right album. As Mark says, it lacks a lot of energy in some places. It starts off with Synchronicity I, which is a great song. I love Mother, which is written by Andy Summers. Funny as anything. Synchronicity II is a pretty good song. Every Breath You Take is all right I guess. Same with King of Pain. The album concludes with one of my absolute favorite Police songs, Murder By Numbers. Written by Andy Summers, this song sports a great catchy rhythm and remarkable drumming by Steward Copeland. So really, I'd give this record a 7. Too damn poppy for my tastes.

Melodie83@aol.com (Joe)
The best rock and roll band ever in my opinion .all three muscians were incredible.Sting's great bass playing/Singing Stew's amazing drumming and Andy's classical guitar playing.the final album is a 9 except for Andy's funny but awful Mother the album is a classic even Stew wrote a good catchy song Miss Gradenko.Every Breath You Take everyone knows but there are songs just as good King of Pain is such a soulful song you can feel pain in Sting's voice Wrapped Around Your Finger is a classic also that melodie gives shivers to anyone who listens to it.Tea In The Sahara is a lost classic the lyrics are wonderfull and that bass line!Syncronicty 2 the only time the Police played heavy metal and it's a masterpiece! the other songs are good Oh My God deserves a mention for that again great bass line.of course this was the last police album which was a crime no pun there,because the police could of written songs as good as this in the future but Sting is such a greedy asshole as much as I love and respect him since I was growing up as a Singer/Songwriter myself i can't forgive him for this .some of his solo albums The Blue Turtles/SoulCages were classics great songs but between those two gems the rest are horrible he try's to sound like country or fake randb i love Randb to but Sting is not an Randb singer .his selling out after his last solo album Mercury Falling was so distastefull it's not like he need's the money he is one of the richest guys in the world.Every Breath You Take one of the most beautiful songs ever turned into a funeral by a guy who thinks he's a genius stealing a melodie and making a million is not a muscian. any rapper who samples a song is a crook and disgrace to music.write your own material or retire!Sting today only proves that he needed Andy and Stew more than he cares to admit, they used to give him a kick in the ass and he used to have verve something he no longer has.

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
It isnít BADó"O My God" is a classic thatís been ignored by everybody in the universe, both title tracks are huge, and the three hits are still great regardless of overplay. The downsides are "Mother" (donít let arty critics thatíve begun to spun up recently fool you with their "the song is great because itís EXPERIMENTAL!" crap, the song is utterly AWFUL and Andy Summers shouldnít be allowed to hide behind the fact that itís experimental), and that "Miss Gradenko" song is also way too dinky for me. Gee, and those are BOTH of the songs written by the non-Sting members! Otherwise a solid album, even if not very creative or interesting at a couple of points. 8/10. Also I agree, Stingís Dream Of The Blue Turtles is his only worthwhile albumóyouíre better off sticking with his hits than buying absolute boredom like Ten Summonerís Tales and Mercury Falling. I bought those and they made a rather hasty trip to the used section of a nearby Wherehouse Video.

bgreenstein@nctimes.net (Ben Greenstein)
First, I'd like to say that Sting's The Soul Cages is one of the greatest albums I own (out of 600), and shouldn't be overlooked by people who dislike the rest of his solo stuff. Summoners Tales sucks - I agree - but his second album is also pretty good.

Now, I'd like to say that Synchronicity could have been a great album if it was only given a different song order, with more strong pieces up front. I programmed it and listened, and it's actually a lot better. Below is my suggested order.

1. Synchronicity 1
2. King Of Pain
3. Wrapped Around Your Finger
4. Murder By Numbers (I think this is only on the CD version)
5. Synchronicity 2
6. Walking In Your Footsteps
7. Every Breath You Take (I like to keep the big hit in the middle)
8. Miss Gradenko (I know, but I kind of like it)
9. Tea In The Sahara

That's it. "Mother" and "O My God" can drop into the ocean, for all I care. Better to have a short CD of all good songs that a long one with lots of filler. With this order, I give the album a nine.

And if you're one of those folks who prefer "O My God," just stick it in. It's your prorammable CD player.

jason_a@earthlink.net (Jason Adams)
This is mostly very good. The two synchronicities and all of side two are brilliant. I like "Miss Gradenko", but the other songs between the title tracks are really terrible. Okay, maybe "Mother" is really worse than terrible. It's like one of those comics on cable TV that stand in front of the brick wall, only screaming like Black Francis. They're not laughing with you, Andy. From "Every Breath You Take" to "Tea in the Sahara", though, we' re looking at Sting's best stuff here.

jaimoe0@hotmail.com (James Welton)
Their biggest album! Their gigantic hits! A boring slab of "craftsmanship."

That's a little harsh, but this album does not generate a whole lot of heat. Meticulous production and solid, professional performances are the order of the day, and it's sort of cold and uninvolving. There are some nice songs, though. "Tea In the Sahara" may be my favorite because I didn't hear it every 10 minutes in 1983/84, but I also like the sing-songy "Walking In Your Footsteps," "Miss Gradenko," and even the slighlty over-played "Wrapped Around Your Finger."

I'm just plain sick of "Every Breath You Take" and "King of Pain." It may be decades before I can listen to either one of those without flinching. You know how you repeat a word over and over and over, it eventually loses any sort of meaning or sense? That's what happened to me with those two songs. And "Synchronicity II" never did a damn thing for me. The Police just aren't my first choice for loud, caterwauling guitars. My least favorite Police album, but mostly because familiarity breeds contempt.

todchy@openaccess.org (Todd Lee)
A lot of people rank this behind everything else they ever put out, mostly because they wanted the Police to keep doing that punk/new-wave/ska thing. But for me, it was a great direction for them. Too bad there wasn't a follow-up. One more great release like this one would have put them in the stratosphere with bands like The Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin. This album was more rock than it was new-wave or ska, it even sounded a little like some of the neo-prog that was being played then. Both Syncronicity songs were good, as well as the big 3 that got all the airplay, but one song that people either love or hate is 'O My God', which was somewhat avant garde sounding for a rock album. As good as 6 of these songs were, 3 were so so, and 2 shouldn't have been recorded. Tea In The Sahara, Murder By Numbers sound like it coulda (and shoulda) come from one of Sting's solos, as well as the boring and preachy Walking In Your Footsteps. The songs Miss Gradenko and Mother absolutely suck. Summers and Copeland were fine musicians, but they were terrible song writers. And since Sting wanted to go off and do light contemporary jazz, its no wonder this became the group's swan song. I myself wouldn't rank this any higher than a 7, the rest of their canon being 8's and 9's.

Daniel.Rosenberg@dowjones.com
I agree that "Mother" is a disaster, but I rather dig "Oh My God" and "Miss Gradenko." Both have a good beat and an interesting chorus. I love the guitar work on Miss Gradenko. Most of the other songs here are top-notch, especially Synchronicity, Wrapped Around Your Finger, King of Pain and Synchronicity 2. Every Breath You Take sounded great on the radio in the summer of 1983 - I remember it well. But now it's boring for me. This album is good to listen to once or twice a year - no more than that. For some reason, I'm never in the mood to put it on.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
The least good Police album, but it isn't any worse than the best album of a lot of bands. There are some good songs here, like "Synchronicity I", "Synchronicity II", "Every Breath You Take" and "King Of Pain", but there's some songs that do nothing for me. "Walking In Your Footsteps", "O My God" and especially "Mother" are disturbing. I'm sorry, but playing in 7/4 does not make a good song. It's the least energetic Police album also, although the first song is just a bomb. It gets a 7/10 from me.

airsces@yahoo.com
I'd give it an 8. I really enjoy listening to it. The lesser songs don't take away from the experience for me, and I don't skip any songs when I listen to it...not even "Mother". I think it's hilairious. Digitally slow the track down and lower the pitch...check it out, it's the Police playing early Swans! Even despite the string of smash hits on the 2nd side, I still think it's quite a well-paced album. I don't think there's anything particularly weak about side 1. "O My God" is a really good song, and "Miss Gradenko" is an admirable 2 minute ditty. "Walking in Your Footsteps" has a slight case of dead-air, but it's got a certain eerieness to it that keeps my interest anyway. Of all the Police albums, I listen to this one the least, but when I do get in the mood to listen to it, it's all-the-way-through, and I enjoy it much.

Add your thoughts?


Live! - A & M 1995.
Rating = 8


A very nice idea for a live album. Disc one is a show from '79 or '80 (right around the time the second album came out) and the second is from the Synchronicity tour. So disc one is a young, excited punk/reggae band at the peak of Powers Boothe, and disc two is a tired bunch of old cokeheads wallowing in the muck of Sting's pretentiousness. Song choice is kickass throughout, although I for one didn't need to hear live versions of EIGHT of the 10 tunes on Suckmyballsity (especially "Walking In Your Footsteps"! What a Jewish cracker of a song!). The neatest thingy for collectors would probably be the early live versions of "Fall Out" and "Landlord," which never ended up on any of their albums. The former is a catchy, generic punk tune and "Landlord"... sucks ass, quite frankly, but still -- it wasn't on any of their albums! The unneatest thingy for collectors would be the annoying AOR female backup vocals on disc two. Probably Sting's idea, the goof. Plus some of the renditions aren't exactly "top of the line" (who needs two eight-minute versions of "So Lonely"? And why is Sting half-assing a quarter of the vocals on disc two?), but the mix is strong enough and the tunes do it to it.

One final warning: unless I got a bad copy, disc one increases dramatically in volume during the course of the first track. So keep your volume control knob panel handily!

Reader Comments

bgreenstein@nctimes.net (Ben Greenstein)
I agree completely. Except about part of "Walking In Your Footsteps" - I think it's actually pretty nice in the studio version - doesn't work at the start of the album, but enjoyable nonetheless. I like that whistling noise - sounds primitive.

However, it shouldn't have been on here, especailly with those dumb girl backing singers. What the hell is that? They can't even sing, if you ask me, and also drag down "Spirits In The Material World," "Don't Stand So Close," and almost "De Do Do Do." However, I also hate it on "King Of Pain" when Sting has the audience sing backup. Man, I hate it when live albums do that.

Still, the first album is incredible - lots of energy and good songs abound. I like the punkish numbers - they sound quite good. And I like some of the versions on the second disc - but I'd rather have less of the "Synchonicity" non-hits, and more old classics - where is "Walking On The Moon" or "Invisible Sun" (Screw you - one of my favourites, by the way)? More obscure material would have been nice, too.

jkonrath@rumored.com (Jon)
Yes, that first disc's volume is fucked up. It's also amazing that Sting proclaims that his throat is fucked up on disc one, but his singing is much better than the phoned-in performance of disc two.

Add your thoughts?


* Every Breath You Take: The Singles - A&M 1986 *
Rating = 10


The albums are all good, but never consistent enough for me. So here's the greatest hits compilation for you. It's got all their best hits, wisely skipping the radio hits that I personally didn't love quite as much as the others ("Synchronicity 2," "Driven To Tears," "So Lonely"). So whatcha left with? A bitchin' Police comp! Every tune on here is among the catchiest radio hits ever created by anybody ever at any time ever, and makin' this smacker a fantastic buy for anybody slightly interested in discovering why one of the most overplayed bands in classic rock radio was at one time considered too risque for on-air play. Isn't that pathetic? I even know a guy who lost his job at a major FM radio station by playing "Message In A Bottle" in the early 80's. Now it's crankin' classical music! Oh well, at least we've sort of advanced, at least a little bit. Except now all you get to hear on modern rock stations is a bunch of self-obsessed women who all sing the same fucking song to the same exact programmed drum beat. Bitches! They's all a bunch of bitches! BGK, now there's a band I'd like to hear on a modern rock station.

Only one major complaint about this compilation - for no good reason, the band decided to record an updated, duller version of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" instead of including the original tune. Fools! Fools they all!

Reader Comments

bykviking@aol.com (Erik DeKold)
I enjoyed your review and am glad to see the albums averaged over 8 points. I might have given them a point more each. However we both disagree on the reviews of Synchronicity and The Singles. I think the remake of "Don't Stand So Close to me" killed the album, and they did put all the radio songs on the album. "Synchronicity 2", "Driven to Tears" and "So Lonely" are not their radio songs. "Every Breath You Take", "Roxanne", "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic", "Walking on the Moon" are the radio songs. You might want to listen to the 2 CD Live set and you'll see what songs they do the cool stuff with. Sting has admitted to using cocaine, but as far as I know he was never strung out on it. If he had an addiction, it never got him in trouble, he realized his problem and dealt with it better than most Rock 'n' Roll artists.

wendavey@easynet.co.uk (Dave & Wendy)
One of several Greatest Hits collections, this was the first so deserves the attention. This record can't get much better to be honest. All of their strongest singles are on the album. If there is a fault it is that the original version of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" isn't included to compare against the remix. Some hate the remix. We like it, it showed how the Police were thinking during their brief '86 reunion attempt, and the song is transformed. It is much, much darker than the original pop-song and if the Police do ever reform we hope that they continue where this remix left off. What is missing from A&M's ever increasing greatest hits collections though is a definitive live "greatest hits" or "singles" collection. 45 minutes of pure excellence. 10/10

cliffnorth@localaccess.net (TAD)
The great thing about REGATTA DE BLANC is that Sting, Stewart & Summers weren't takin themselves so GOD DAMN SERIOUS like they did later. I love that record 4 its bouncy feel, which U talk about. "Walking on the Moon" almost works as a theme song 4 the whole album. I was 1st sucked in by "Message in a Bottle" & the title track ... & eventually, about 2 months later, I played the B side. & laughed myself silly. If "Walking on the Moon" ain't nutso enuf, how bout "Does Everyone Stare" or (my favorite) "On Any Other Day"? Early-70s Woody Allen could relate 2 those 2 songs -- whatta bunch of loveable klutzes they were. So human.

That adorable klutziness stayed around 4 awhile. I thot the original "Don't Stand So Close To Me" had a little bit of that feel, & "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." They did go on 2 do 2 of the great overlooked songs of R time, "Omegaman" & "Secret Journey." But basically Sting got WAY 2 SERIOUS & self-important, as U note. & sure, I love "King of Pain" & especially -- Oh Ghod -- "Synchronicity II." But LOTS of bands can B huge & loud & threatening. But there's more 2 life. How many bands could have been The Rodney Dangerfields of Rock and Roll? -- & am I the only person on the planet who LIKES "Can't Stand Losing You"? The obsessiveness of it is GREAT. & it has 1 key line, something about "I'm too hurt to swallow my pride" (We know, Gordon, we know....) -- & Bsides, it's just a more simplified, ranting "Every Breath You Take"....

NOSPOL@aol.com
One note: This collection has been supplanted by a more thorough comp called Every Breath You Take.The Classics. That one has both versions of "Don't Stand So Close To me" as well as a couple other remixes. This album is the one to get if you only want one Police CD. 10/10

bgreenstein@nctimes.net (Ben Greenstein)
I once saw a Canadian version of this with a bunch of additional songs on it - the ones I remember are "Synchonicity 2," "Tea In The Sahara," "Canary In A Coalmine," and either "Next To You" or "So Lonely." I didn't buy it, though, and have regretted it ever since, seeing as those are most of my favourite songs. Except for "Canary" - does anyone else realize how much that one sucks? I'd be content if they never played it on radio. And how come "Demolition Man" is always overlooked. It kicks the crap out of the original Grace Jones version - not hard, seeing as there was nothing but crap in there.

cbunnell@ix.netcom.com (Rich Bunnell)
A 9, since the remake of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" was really a mistake, even though it would've stood as a real highlight on a Sting album since it's in his style. The remake pushes it below the masterpiece Reggatta De Blanc (which has not a bad track at all) and also because I really would've LIKED "So Lonely," "Synchronicity II," and "Driven To Tears" on here. But most of what is there IS perfect, INCLUDING "INVISIBLE SUN!" REALIZE THE ABSOLUTE COOLNESS OF THE SONG!! NOW!!

As for "Canary In A Coalmine," Ben, you said you like "Man In A Suitcase" but hate "Canary," but I don't see how that works out because they're practically the exact same friggin' song!

imoss@northernlight.com (Ian Moss)
Good! Has most of the hits you'd ever want, although I would've liked to have "Sync 2" and "So Lonely" as well. Even "Canary in a Coalmine" woulda been kinda cool. I absolutely agree with everyone about the terrible version of "Don't Stand So Close to Me," though it was never my fav. Fuzz song anyway. Overall, it's probably one of the safest buys I could possibly imagine. 9

opeth1213@yahoo.com (Eric D.)
Much like the Doors - Legacy, Rolling Stones - 40 Licks and Zeppelin - Remasters, this is an excellent compliation for those of us who've blown our money the back catalogues of bands formed after the 70s and can't be bothered checking out every album from those classic bands from our mommy and daddy's days. And its got all my favorite Police, including Roxanne (which I used to em-bare-ass myself on a daily basis doing an Eddie Murphy-style karaoke of for the cool kids so they wouldnt kick my ass when i was 12 or 13), Walkin on the Moon, Wrapped around your Finger and King of Pain. Pretty good selection, i gotta admit Sting was good for somethin back in the day. The other two members are good musicians too. 10/10... off to listen to more Napalm Death now.

shelby.church@comcast.net
THE POLICE ROCK!!!!!!

I luv the Police!!!

From, A crazed fan of the Police.

P.S. Sting Rox!!!

bladeystyle@yahoo.com (Johnny)
Congratulations on your frontal lobotomy, Shelby. Keep on rockin' and don't let the drool short out your iPod!

Jeffery Hoelscher
If memory serves, this whole album was intended to be remakes a la 'Don't Stand...' but Stewart Copeland fell off a horse and broke his arm. It would have received the same rating since the only difference between 10 and 1 is 0. Thank God for broken arms (not really because I've never owned this record because I had all the studio albums when I cared enough). And when I type in Police in my iTunes up comes Chrome, the Clash, Pere Ubu, Robert Wilkins, some anonymous blues guys and that fantastic Ry Cooder version of Blind Blake's 'Police Dog Blues'. It's on his self-titled record. You should really buy it.

Add your thoughts?


Message In A Box: The Complete Recordings - A&M 1993
Rating = 7


This box set contains all five Police studio albums as well as 25 tracks (85 minutes) of non-LP material, comprising eight live performances, that shitty "Don't Stand So Close To Me" remake, and 16 songs previously available only on b-sides, compilations and so forth. Many are not good!

Opinions are literally assholes found on your body, but I personally would only give "two thumbs up" to six of these bonus tracks:

1 & 2. "Fall Out" and "Nothing Achieving" - Both sides of their 1977 debut single kick some major punk rock ass. Side one happy, side two angry, side both written by Stewart Copeland!
3. "Dead End Job" - Another great early track, this "Roxanne" b-side features fast drums, catchy ascending bass, loose piano chords and a great sense of anarchic fun.
4. "Shambelle" - This odd, dark Andy Summers-penned instrumental appeared on the b-side of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and is based on the interplay between an ascending bass riff and descending guitar chords.
5. "Someone To Talk To" - Turn over the glum single "King Of Pain" and you'll find this glum reggae-pop song written and sung by Andy Summers.
6. "Once Upon A Daydream" - "Synchronicity II"'s b-side is dark pop with a strangely halting synth line and lyrics like "I blew her Daddy's brains out!"

Although the other rarities don't strike my fancy to the same degree, there are certainly some noteworthy genre experiments on display. Summers' "Friends," for example, is a creepy piece of gallows humor on the subject of cannibalism; its only fault is dragging on for several minutes after the joke has worn thin. Elsewhere, Copeland's "A Sermon" is the closest the band ever came to Get The Knack-style new wave power pop, Sting's "I Burn For You" deteriorates from evocative reggae-pop to stupid Indian chanting halfway through, and "Flexible Strategies," though a godawful song, is one of the band's very, very few forays into funk -- complete with wicka-wicka porn guitar and brapping sex horns! Actually, on the topic of "godawful songs," the scream-driven conceptual piece "A Kind of Loving" honestly may be the worst song in the band's entire catalog.

And yes, it's still better than 90% of Sting's solo work, but give the guy a break. You'd be writing shit like "Englishman in New York" too if you were spiritual-balls-deep in Tantric gash fifteen hours a day.

Reader Comments

billy.barron@tx.rr.com
This thing was a godsend when I upgraded my Police collection from cassette to CD. I give it a 10 just because it is a cheap way to get everything. "Ghost In The Machine" after the first three tracks and the second half of "Synchronicity" didn't hold up over time but the rest of the actual albums are still great today.

I'm less favorable on the bonus tracks than you. As you said, the first 3 tracks are really good. There are some decent live ones but they don't really add anything to the studio versions of the same songs. The other bonus tracks are not worth listening to.

Also, the book that comes with it is a really good recap of the Police. And they let loose with the good and the bad.

On the other hand, I can't really give a 10 to a box set that ends with "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" - a track so bad that if you played it in prison it would be concerned cruel and unusual punishment.

Add your thoughts?


Certifiable: Live In Buenos Aires - A&M/Universal 2008
Rating = 6


Here's my impression of the Cops' reunion discussion:

Andy Summers: "Hey Stink, let's reunite for money."

Stink: "Sure thing, but I should warn you: I suck now."

Stewart Copeland: "That's fine. We suck now too."

So what you get is a bunch of shitty new age pussy-assed synth-drenched slowed-down Stinged-up crappyass drag-on-forever ugly-guitar-solo renditions of formerly awesome Police songs. Andy Summers doesn't appear to remember how any of the songs go, and plays them all much less interestingly or prettily than before. Stewart Copeland seemingly can't play uptempo anymore, and half-speeds (half-asses) far too many tracks. And Sting keeps speaking Spanish like a bigshot and running all his vocals together like an asshole (example: "MANYMILAWAY!").

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this album a 1. I don't know what all those dots up there are for.

They play 6 Outlandos D'Amour, 5 each Zenyatta Mondatta and Synchronicity, 3 Regatta De Blanc and a GO FUCK YOURSELF 2 from Ghost In The Machinery Of Love Today In America Of Life. They dick around on "Roxanne" for eight minutes, for Christ's sake. I'm all like "Shut up you boring old assholes," which is hilarious since I'm 900 years old myself.

I've now been unemployed for 9 months and it's getting extremely depressing. Thanks for nothing, Obama "The Asshole Who Hasn't Found Me A Job" Barack. I put your name in the wrong order because you're Japanese.

The important thing to note is this: I'm drunk, and the Police had a ton of great songs. Why they chose to play them like Sting solo jazz-gayfer easy listening fart noise I have no idea. My assumption is as follows: they're so old that their spines would crack in two, paralyzing them for life if they played them at the appropriate energy level.

Fuck you, old people. You're so old.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
YOU, and you're OLD.
Augh! (*shakes cane*)

Also, why did they play so few songs off of Ghost In The Machinery Of Love Today In America Of Life? I love that album. They didn't even play "Spirits In The Material World Of Love Today In America Of Life"! Curse you, The Police Of Love Today In America Of Life, featuring Sting Of Love Today In America Of Life, Stewart C (*continues this asinine paragraph*)

Reader Comments

billy.barron@tx.rr.com
Actually, you are not too far off on your impression. Stewey completely trashed them on tour as well:

http://www.stewartcopeland.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2809&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Add your thoughts?


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