Category: The Police

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta

ARTIST: The Police                            Police-album-zenyattamondatta

TITLE:  Zenyatta Mondatta

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #5 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Don’t Stand So Close to Me (#10 US, #1 UK), De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (#10 US, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Driven to Tears, Man in a Suitcase

LINEUP: Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Police truly breakthrough in the US with their most consistent album yet.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Unlike the first two Police albums, it seemed that every track here was thoughtfully written and crafted, and not something used to just fill out time. This included the two instrumentals, which did show the versatility of the band, and “Shadows in the Rain”, which is more of an excursion in dub than anything else.

The deep cuts reveal a lot about the band. The reggae influence was greater, as well as the political (with “Driven to Tears and the segue into “When the World Is Running Down…” plus “Bombs Away”). Even with Sting’s impressive bass work, the star on this album is Andy Summers, whose guitar lines tend to float above the fray and add a texture and style that was missing on some previous cuts.

What I don’t like is the structure of the album. The first side is definitely strong, but at the expense of side two which I think they could have shifted an instrumental with “Bombs Away” so that side doesn’t have two instrumentals and the dub excursion.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Behind My Camel”, Andy Summers’ instrumental, won a Grammy. Sting didn’t play on it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  Almost an “A” album, but for sequencing issues. It’s a quibble but I’m allowed.

 

The Police – Regatta de Blanc

ARTIST: The Police           Police-album-reggattadeblanc

TITLE:  Regatta de Blanc

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION: #25 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Message in a Bottle (#74 US, #1 UK), Walking on the Boon (#1 UK), Bring on the Night

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Bed’s Too Big Without You

LINEUP: Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Shedding any punk pretense (but keeping the energy in some songs), the trio records their second album with a half-full songbook, but somehow grab enough tunes from their notebooks to make it work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Setting out to record their second album, the Police had some new songs ready to go, but not enough. So they about three or four songs wound up being recycled from songs they had written before they were involved in the Police, and a B-side was brought in as well. (Note: they didn’t go back to their independent singles – for good reason.)

No matter the sources, most of the material is fantastic. “Message in the Bottle” is the standout cut – one of the best songs of 1979, and it’s a mystery why it never hit here in the US. Songs like “Bring on the Night”, “Walking on the Moon”, and Copeland’s “Contact” are prime examples of the musical versatility and mastery of the Police at this stage.

Even the instrumental, the title track, doesn’t sound like filler thanks to how well this band played together. (It won a Grammy, too.) Only a couple of tracks sound like they were scrambled together, but their playing papers over those flaws.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A&M wanted them to go to a big studio. They stayed at their same studio and paid for the time themselves, thus keeping the company out of their hair.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: A couple of filler tracks, but this album solidified the Police as a force in the New Wave era.

The Police – Outlandos d’Amour

ARTIST: The Police Police-album-outlandosdamour

TITLE:  Outlandos d’Amour

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #23 US, #6 UK

SINGLES: Roxanne (#32 US, #12 UK), Can’t Stand Losing You (#2 UK), So Lonely (#6 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Next to You

LINEUP: Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pseudo punk trio creates album with some fantastic songs based on reggae and new wave. It slowly builds momentum for the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Recording when they could, for a very low budget, the Police’s debut album has some brilliant songs done in varied styles. Many were influenced by ‘punk’ and indeed they originally came out as a punk band. But when Andy Summers came into the group that quickly went away. (Summers had a long career going back to his work with Zoot Money and Eric Burdon. He wasn’t fooling anyone.)

Most of the songs are excellent, with Sting coming up with inventive lyrics and arrangements and the band switching from new wave to reggae and sorta-punk with no problem. There were some throwaways on there, don’t get me wrong, and thus it’s not a complete album. But the singles above and a few of the deep cuts are fine representations of a band, indeed, a UK music industry, transitioning out of punk and into…something else.

While if you’re looking to fill your Police album collection, you may not want to start here, but don’t skip on the really good stuff.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Stewart Copeland played with Curved Air for a while before forming the Police. Also, the UK didn’t buy their stuff until they hit in the US and the record company re-released their stuff.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B+:  Six, maybe seven great songs out of 10.