Outlandos D'Amour (1978)
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Next to You A-
Punk? An attempt, surely, but this certainly isn't your ordinary punk rock tune. It starts off as a furious bit of riff-rock. Sting scream-sings the lyrics just like the Johnny Rotten and those drums are wildly pounding away! But what's with that weird discourse around the one-minute mark? They changed the groove! What are you guys trying to do with punk music? Turn it into progressive rock? ... Yeah, these guys wanted to write more complex music than punk ... good for them!
So Lonely A+
Yeah, nobody in England or America or anywhere thought this stuff was hip. Punk-reggae? ... Of course they would think that was hip, but that was only when this band would turn into international superstars. They admitted to ripping off the main hook from a Bob Marley song, but the punky chorus was surely a product of their own invention. This song is also brilliantly catchy and enjoyable to listen to every time I put it on.
Too many classic songs all at once! This is probably more famous than “So Lonely.” Sting reportedly envisioned as a bossa nova, but after developing it a bit, it turned into a tango. Whatever happened, they sure did everything right! Similarly to the previous song, the verses are the tango, and the chorus is more punky. (I really don't need to attempt to describe this song ... everybody should know this by heart.)
Hole in My Life B+
This is a well-put song, but it's the first one that doesn't do much to leap out at me. It's hard to fit this one in a category, and maybe that's what they were going for. Rubbery guitar chords keep an interesting texture and a mid-tempo, off-kilter drum beat keeps the beat. The song is structured in the typical verses/chorus structure. Then someone comes in at the end and starts playing two notes on the piano... I doubt they even knew what they were doing; I can say with confidence they were having fun. The music studio was their sandbox for creativity! I love it when bands treat it like that!!
This is closer to straight punk like the album opener, but I'd probably say it's closer to a straight pop song... albeit a fast paced and furious one. The guitars are crunchy and the melody is catchy. Sting is playing one of the coolest, most danceable bass-lines I've heard in awhile. And proof they were far more interesting than many give them credit for, someone brings in a synthesizer that sounds reminiscent of early Roxy Music (essentially, a demented person playing two notes).
Can't Stand Losing You A+
When they have a hit, it'll take off to the moon! This is another one of their famous ones... It's not as straight of a reggae-rock exercise like “So Lonely” ... it's more like one of their unique hybrids. I'll say the same thing I said about “Roxanne.” Whatever it is, it's catchy as hell, and I love listening to it!
Truth Hits Everybody A-
This is another punk-related song although it's far too complex for the genre (there's too many chords for punk, for a start... and for god's sake, someone's playing a tubular bell). But the guitars are fast paced, and this is sure to keep your feet tapping. These guys really knew what a pop hook was supposed to sound like... This is another song that's catchy as hell! That touch at the end with the wave of sound was an excellent touch!
Born in the '50s B-
This is a silly rock 'n' roller. It sounds pretty awful compared to the rest of the album, but it's still a fine song. It's a silly anthem proclaiming that they were BORN IN THE '50S! And Sting screams some of the things everybody born that decade have in common. This lacks the sheer creativity of the other songs, and it's also not as catchy.
Be My Girl – Sally B-
Yeah, it wasn't more evident these guys were just screwing around than it was now. This song begins and ends with a rather usual pop song, but they stop everything in the middle and deliver a silly poem while someone randomly tinkers around with a piano in the background. There was no particular reason for them to do this except they wanted to be terribly weird or something. That would also explain those weird croaking noises we hear at the very end.
Masoko Tanga A
Tremendous fun! Maybe they didn't have time to write lyrics, but their idea to have Sting belt out made-up lyrics beat The Talking Heads' “I Zimbra” to the punch. Speaking of The Talking Heads, this is along those same sorts of lines. There are bongo drums galore here and quasi-funk guitars playing the same groove throughout the whole thing. Listen closely to the bass and try to tell me that Sting wasn't a great bass player! They even add some waves of reversed synthesizers into the mixed. That wasn't a revolutionary idea by any means, but it kept it interesting.
Regatta De Blanc (1979)
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Message in a Bottle A+
It's true--- when The Police have a great hit, the world stops to listen (which means that someone got your message, so that's good). Though a major hit, it's also a brilliant song. I don't catch any obvious reggae influences here other than its somewhat detached riff. All the innovators have to be inspired by something, you know, and they don't have to sound like everyone else. Whatever the story is behind the song, all of The Police's influences melded together to make a truly original song, and the catchy melody is why it's so memorable! The instrumentals are squeaky clean, and Sting sings it with his usual stamina (you know how he sings). What else do you want me to say?
Regatta De Blanc A
Anyone who accuses The Police of being commercial sell-outs at this point probably haven't heard this song. This is weird! It begins with an alarmed atmosphere and Copeland goes nuts with the drums... making a bunch of clicks... What ensues is a really weird, punkish near-instrumental that's more interesting to hear evolve than most progressive rock songs. Yeah, commercial sell-outs, my posterior!
It's Alright For You A-
Here is a great piece of tight catchy riff-rock featuring Sting doing a bit of a rap. You get the idea that they were doing this in the punk-rock era (just because the tempo is very fast), but these guys were happy to be making relatively more complex music. They wrote whatever they saw fit, I guess, and it didn't readily fit into any categories. You'll be surprised how much stuff they're able to pack into three minutes. ... Look at me, this isn't even considered one of the album's more interesting songs, and I think it's interesting.
Bring on the Night A
Wonderful! Listen to all these textures they're giving us! It starts out with some low rumbles as Copeland delivers these titter-titter jazz beats on his high-hat. Then, Andy Summers brings in this beautiful textured guitar... It almost reminds me of electronic or even video game music. Summers also peppers up this whole thing with some uncouth guitar solos... Geez. All of this doesn't mention how dang catchy the song is. Catchy and complex. Wonderful. I could probably write a book about this. And it's not even one of the hits.
Bouncy! ... Ninety percent of Police songs can be considered bouncy, but this is extra bouncy. The reason this track is enjoyable has little to do with the melody (in which Sting seems to be giving some sort of spaced-out thing), but those guitars. It's a flood of them, and they bring in a muted guitar for the musical refrain. This is obviously not one of the songs they worked developing the most, because they're pretty much keeping the same mood throughout. This is just an interesting texture.
Walking on the Moon A+
It's funny that no matter how good the other songs can be, these hits manage to just pop out at me. It's like this song knows exactly how legendary it is, and it unflinchingly extends its royal hand out for me to kiss. Jeeeeez... Where to start... Copeland's drumming is brilliant for a start. I heard Booker T. and the MG's do that drum echo thing before, but other things he does is just wild. This is a very slow-paced and subdued number, which makes that even more interesting. And the guitar is brilliant, too! From those watery, echoey guitar licks that open up, and then doing some sort of reggae thing during the core of the melody... Very nicely done. Of course we're all familiar with how Sting sings, and he's in top form here. Great song!!!
On Any Other Day A
Another extra-bouncy song! This is song with lyrics about an ordinary man's life gone wrong. They're kind of funny. This is certainly one of the album's less musically notable numbers, and I don't think they spent a huge amount of time developing it, but there's a unique charm to it. It has to do with the sleepy, matter-of-factly delivered vocals... this time with Sting taking back vocals and Copeland taking the lead. This sort of song reminds me of the quasi-novelty-rock that all those billions of '90s alt-rock bands loved to do. Plus, it's catchy as hell!
The Bed's Too Big Without You A
Wow!!! These guys really know how to do these sparse, minimalist songs (among with plenty of other things). This one features a rather complex guitar groove as Summers plays his echo-style drum beats. And, of course, there's Sting singing like a complex pompous jerk pretending to be a jazz king. Yeah, it doesn't get much better than that.
A weird song... a dark bass guitar playing single, clean notes produces a weird mechanical groove of sorts, which is immediately the most memorable aspect of this. Otherwise, the instrumentation continues to be tight and bouncy. Despite that, the melody leaves a little bit to be desired.
Does Everyone Stare B
This is one of the things that keep Regatta De Blanc from ultimately becoming the best of the best. While, likable, this bouncy piano ditty doesn't have much memorable about it apart from that goofy opera singer we hear at the beginning. I think this had some potential... they could have added more weird sound effects, or went Roxy Music-esque on it and made it sound more alien. Dang it, why not work more on its atmosphere?? It's still crazy enough to be fun (especially if you hear the lyrics), but this seemed like a lost opportunity overall.
No Time This Time A-
And for good measure, they end it with a furious punky song. It's much lighter and poppy than most punk songs, but the tempo they're using is just about right. Sting is singing with all his might, and the songwriting is catchy and complex. That fade-out was a pretty horrible idea, though.
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
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Don't Stand So Close to Me A+
A dark, space age synthesizer comes in and then they come in with just about their most mesmerizing groove yet. The melody is easily among the band's catchiest, and the delivery is wonderful. The band's in top form ... these rhythms are very intricate! You could complain a little bit, if you want to, that they were polishing their sound way too much. You could also complain that they were getting too comfortable in their sound and weren't being so creative anymore. But I wouldn't do that if I were you... Any group that can make fresh-sounding songs like this are doing everything right. (Besides, there is *some* level of creativity in here ... you have that cosmic thing they do in the middle of this.)
Driven to Tears A-
It's difficult to follow up the previous song, but The Police managed it just great with this mid-tempo tune with another catchy melody and interesting groove. Though I certainly wouldn't call it one of their more intoxicating nor engaging efforts. There are a number of great guitar licks here and there ... geez, it's hard to come up with anything to complain about... and I don't know why I would.
When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around B+
OK, I thought of something complain about. The song title. It's too long!! Oh, and I guess this tune isn't that interesting, either. It's a simple groove and three chords... not their best work. But at least it's kind of fun, and despite their self-imposed limitations, they managed to fit a few hooks in there. Cool.
Canary in a Coalmine A+
What can I say? Even when I claimed to not like The Police, I thought this song was fabulous. This immediately stuck out at me ... this weird, fast-paced ska song. It contains a very fun, playful and wobbly groove that few bands are able to produce so tightly and well. Sting is singing a catchy melody that doesn't require that many notes (a concept that has been interesting me as a wannabe songwriter lately). It isn't even two and a half minutes, but that was the perfect length. Whoever said this was a band that took themselves too seriously? At least now, they're being a real blast.
Voices Inside My Head A-
This is sort of like “When the World...” because it comprises only of a groove that gets repeated throughout and throughout. Well, it's a wonderful groove! But it's not the most compelling songwriting I can think of. Stewart Copeland comes in with some interesting drumming textures later on, which was a great touch, but I wonder why he's not going complete nuts like he was in the last album. Summers gives us some nice guitar textures, of course. Yes, it fully deserves the A-, but it doesn't deserve more than that.
Bombs Away A-
This sort of normal songwriting is definitely more preferable to me! This song seems a little choppy, but Andy Summers comes in and gives certainly his most boisterous electric guitar performance yet. The melody isn't the catchiest thing they ever wrote, but it's enjoyable enough. Good song!
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da A+
Cool song! I see some people put this on lists of songs with embarrassing filler lyrics, but I think these lyrics are pretty clever. It's about someone not knowing what to say, but he couldn't think of something as intricate as “supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.” Well, it's a wonderful song, of course, and you're going to have to get a load of some of the textures they use. Summers' pulsating guitar patterns are the stuff of legend! And I don't know what the heck that rumbly thing is that pops up a few times in the background in the middle of this ... but I like it! Neat song!
Behind My Camel A-
An instrumental?? Funny, but this just gives me another reason to love this band. It's the sort of instrumental that every new wave band attempted doing around 1980 or so to imitate David Bowie and Brian Eno in the second half of Heroes. Here, the Police does that once and manages to top most of 'em. You could argue this is relatively trivial (considering it doesn't seem to want to put specific images in our minds), but it's a lot more fun to hear. Plus, it isn't even three minutes long, so it's not like it's going to waste your time.
Man in a Suitcase A
Give me more of this unstoppable art-ska music! ... Er, OK just give me one two-minute song. Call me crazy, but this says all in two minutes. A catchy melody, snappy rhythm ... and just 'cos this is The Police, they insert a bizarre, cosmic discourse in the middle of it. This has some of the most commercial potential than the others... so everyone will like this!
Shadows in the Rain A-
Very interesting! This is a slow, creepy song with the drums and bass guitar showing heavy dominance in the mix. Andy Summers is playing a bunch of strange electric guitar licks that's extremely quiet, while Sting mostly just repeats the song title. This is in the class of songs on Zenyatta Mondatta that's basically just an over-extended groove... but somehow these guys make it seem much more than that. Well... this is orginal, at any rate!
The Other Way of Stopping A-
And another instrumental closes this. It's funny there are so many instrumentals or near-instrumentals on this... Apparently these guys complained they were rushed to come out with this album, so maybe there wasn't a lot of time to write lyrics, or something. This isn't one of their most compelling instrumentations ... It's more of a regular, upbeat pop rock bit done to a normal pace. Easily the most interesting thing about this is Summers' guitar, which sounds like windchimes. Cool... That's actually a concept I'd really like to see developed by somebody!
Ghost in the Machine (1981)
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Spirits in the Material World A
What a weird song! Automatically, you can hear them bringing synthesizers into the foreground instead of the guitar-led music they were known for earlier. Some of their fans might have had a problem with that, but I'm not with them... After all, this band evolved starkly throughout its short tenure and I'm sure a number of fans wanted The Police to remain in their personally favorite era! They're definitely being interesting here... they introduce a weird, hypnotic groove from a synthesizer and a somewhat off-kilter melody. It's extremely repetitive, but that's partly why it's so hypnotic! It's also something I haven't heard before ... or done this well, at least, and that's cause enough to celebrate. Don't they just give off the aura that they are writing a song for the spirits? I think so.
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic A+
I had to put on my headphones for this one. I'm trying to get away from using headphones too much, but sometimes I'm just helpless. There's so much going on here that I have to listen to it loudly so that I pick everything up. It's an atmospheric masterpiece with all so many sounds layered in the background that it'll take years sorting out everything. I love that odd synthesizer we hear very faintly playing a funny groove in the chorus... and then there's a lot of twinkly guitars. Keeping it bouncy is Sting's lively bass guitar. Brilliant. And that's not to mention that the melody is catchy as hell, which is what turned this into such an unforgettable radio hit. The development is interesting, too... I've listened to it quite a few times, but I'm always somewhat surprised at the directions it takes.
Invisible Sun A-
Also this is a challenging song, but this is one of the album's weaker songs. Well, it gets an A-, so I must like it a lot! Simple dark synthesizers are almost all that provides the backdrop except Andy Summers vomits with his guitar every once awhile. What strikes me most about this song is not only the atmosphere, but oddly the droning melody... This is almost a two-chord song, by the way, but this is pretty dang good as far as almost-two-chord songs go.
Hungry For You (J'aurais Tojours Faim De Toi) A
They might have had an English album title for once, but that doesn't stop them from torturing us with foreign sounding names... And foreign sounding lyrics for that matter... OK they're not torturing me. In fact, I like hearing Sting spout off these lyrics. I have no idea what he's saying, of course, but I haven't been paying much attention to their lyrics anyway. In fact, I'd say his vocal delivery is what *makes* this song! It is basically an overextended groove, which this band has been known to produce in bundles, but it's a damn infectious one.
Demolition Man A-
A lengthy jam. It's weird though much less weird than what Roxy Music would've done in their heyday. Instrumentals are certainly more prominent than Sting's vocals, but it assuredly has its quirky qualities. As you'd expect, they find a catchy groove that we can dance to, and Andy Summers piddles around interestingly with his guitar. The drumming is even pretty complex... more stuff to get dazzled over. Probably the icing on the cake is the horn section, which lends the experience some melody. Cool.
Too Much Information B+
The Dukes of Bouncy deliver give us yet another reason to jump up and down in our seats with the merry beat. I suppose this pales against some of these other tracks ... whenever I listen to this album, my ears seem to gloss over this one, so to speak. Especially compared to the previous tracks, there's nothing that sticks out at me. Not their most inspired moment, but it's fun as always. They seemed to have known this and didn't let it extend past four minutes.
Rehumanize Yourself A
This is a fast-paced song that makes me think they were planning to write something along the lines of “Canary in a Coal Mine.” Of course this is completely different other than its tempo! This one's hugely hectic and urgent. Also, they were playing around with sound effects to produce an interesting landscape... And a crazy sax to keep things even more weird.
One World (Not Three) B
A song I don't care much for. And it's not because this marks the beginning of Sting's attempts putting overly idealistic, politically charged themes in his music that nobody cares about. The music itself is lackluster! This consists of a somewhat sparse reggae groove and Sting's boring rhetoric. But Stuart Copeland is a phenomenally interesting drummer, and it's pretty much only he who keeps us entertained. (OK, I like the groove well enough ... but this is one of the weakest songs of the album, and I's gots to explain why.)
They do do all this hokey left-wing nonsense in the previous track and then they make a tribute to Charlton Heston! ... Or maybe not. Good song, though. They're bringing back the atmospheric, sonic ideas that I found interesting about this album from the get-go. The tempo is sped up, and the melody is good. Summers coming in with a wobbly riff was also a nice touch. This is fun though not one of the song's you're most likely to find memorable.
Secret Journey B-
This is silly. It starts out with synthesizer chords from a cheesy planetarium show. That wasn't necessarily bad, but ... they just happened to be playing with a gimmick that is associated with cheesy planetarium shows! They redeem some of it by actually coming in with a real song, but even that's not particularly notable. They mess with the flow by briefly going back to those chords. ... This song isn't exactly brimming with good ideas, but I guess all their albums had at least one of these.
A very brief song that seemed to be made so because they didn't have greatly diverse ideas for it. That's just as well, of course, because that's when its drunken groove starts to grow tired. This is another well composed addition to their atmospheric groove pieces, though I must say I'm a bit disappointed they couldn't come up with anything more bracing to end the album with! Well... it's fine, surely. It's an unusual, artsy song and I usually like those.
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Synchronicity I A
What a song! They begin it with a jangly loop provided by some well-programmed synthesizers proving again that their move to embracing synthesizer sounds wasn't a bad idea but an inspired one! Quickly, a driving drum beat pops up and a pounding bass guitar. Sting comes in with the vocal melody, which suits the material perfectly. Those overlapping vocals in the chorus are just beautiful! Lastly, those chord changes!! Listen to this song and hear how they do that ... geez. Some nerd more attuned with music theory than I could certainly explain what's so interesting about those. All I can tell you is this is an inspired Police song in more ways than one.
Walking in Your Footsteps B+
The Police have been doing world-beat stuff since their debut album, but instead of real bongo drums, they're using some programmed synth concoction. It's nice, and I like their rhythms... they're rather complex, and I must assume Copeland provides some of those tappings. And we hear Summers playing a few existential licks in the background. This is another attempt at political rock, but it's a lot more interesting than “One World (Not Three)” from the previous album. It compares the destruction of dinosaurs to the nuclear age.
O My God A-
This fades-in with an interesting groove making me think this is going to be another one of those Police songs that just a single groove. Well in a way it is just an overextended groove, but as we come to expect, The Police make it a lot more interesting than that. This groove is catchy and mesmerizing and Copeland's drumming is fantastic. Summers almost has a cameo here with an array of interesting sound effects. Of course, these guitar sounds are great! And icing on the cake is that crazy sax they bring in the second half, which was leftover from the previous album. (Also, if you listen closely, you can hear the exact same synth sound that plagued “Secret Journey.”) At the end, the groove eventually fades out, and they let the crazy sax have the final word. Except he almost gets normal at the end. Nice!
I think I'm supposed to hate this song, but I love it outlandishly. It sounds like something right out of Richard Elfman's demented film masterpiece, Forbidden Zone. The music was designed to sound tortured, and Andy Summers delivers a tormented wail. It's funny to hear such a song in a massive commercial success! It's weird art-rock, and I find it just about the most entertaining thing on this album. Big kudos for this one!
Miss Gradenko B+
It's back to business as they say. This reminds me a bit of “Bring on the Night” the way the guitars are textured ... but it's not quite the same sound. The melody is fine, but not one of their strong points. Also, the atmosphere isn't nearly as interesting as these other tracks. It's very pleasant, though... and two minutes was the perfect length for it.
Synchonicity II A-
One of the characters in the American version of The Office is the drummer of a Police tribute band that dubs itself Scrantonicity. In one episode, he announced that he left the band and formed Scrantonicity II. Cute. There's nothing extremely interesting about this song except for the wide array of sound effects they use here, which are well engineered. I don't find the melody that interesting, for some reason, and they've certainly had more interesting ideas for their music. But it's a good song, and it has a good drive. It's very fun to listen to.
Every Breath You Take A+
Inarguably the best crazy stalker song ever written. Those are bad words from someone who can't claim to have listened to every stalker song ever written, but if I ever run across a better one, I will immediately delete these two seconds. It's also the most well-known song from the album and quite clearly the best one. Though unlike “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” this is straight adult contemporary instead of art-rock that's disguised as adult contemporary. We have very straightforward instrumentation here with the usual synthesizers, bounding beat and pulsating bass guitar. No interesting grooves or anything. ... Of course what makes this a great song is its unbeatable melody.
King of Pain B+
This is a little more “experimental” than the previous track, but all that means is they let Andy Summers come in with some guitar textures. I know this was an '80s hit but frankly I'm a little dismayed by the lack of solid hooks in the melody. It works as an atmospheric piece, I guess, but even then they've been much more compelling in the past. I enjoy this song, of course, and it has plenty of merits to keep its score fairly high, but I wish I was inspired to up the rating even higher.
Wrapped Around Your Finger A-
Yay! This was another big hit, but I really like the melody. It starts out with a lite-rock groove with some of Copeland's involved drum patterns. Copeland's giving us some of his sound effects in the background ... (Geez, I understand why some fans resented these post-Zenyatta albums.) Sting's singing like a lounge singer here, which (hate to say it) is a very good sound for him. The chorus is overwhelmingly the highlight of the song... I guess that's why this fits in so well with '80s rock radio.
Tea in the Sahara B-
For fun, I changed these lyrics to “Pee in the Sahara With Me.” Guess how bored I am. Disappointingly so, this final song in the album is the weakest. It's a generally uninteresting psychedelic outing with a sparse bass groove and a bunch of sound effects. I've definitely heard worse songs ... and I do like some of what they do. Those space-age synthesizers piddling about gives me a little bit to soak up. But overall this song woefully lacks charisma. It's like they were going for the motions.
Murder By Numbers A-
I assumed this was a cover from an old, underground jazz performer from the '50s or '60s, but I guess Sting wrote this. The lyrics are wicked, giving us instructions on how to commit murder. Thanks for this useful information! ... Now, who was the last person who crossed me? Andy Summers fans who lamented at the loss of the guitar would especially enjoy this ... although he's not doing anything particularly innovative. For the most part, this is straight jazz-good. And it's a lot of evillllll fun!
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