Giant steps are what you take…. Five from The Police

I spent a good chunk of time yesterday evening sat on the grass listening – from outside of the festival grounds – to a Sting and The Police tribute act (The Rozzers). Regular readers will know I have a fondness for them that only seems to grow as I get older. Hearing some of their classics played out at such volume by a very accomplished band was actually more of a treat than I was expecting it be and reinforced to me just how many great tunes those three chaps put to tape (we wandered away once they started with ‘Fields of Gold’ – there’s only so much vomit you can get in a bucket after all).

In their relatively short nine year original span they put out five albums of increasing depth that saw them get better with each outing before the inevitable inter-band tensions arose and Sting’s ego grew so large that it become self-aware, ate Andy Sumner and made a drumstick-kebab with Stewart Copeland and convinced The Artist Formerly Known As Gordon that jazz was the way to go (that’s if Wikipedia is to be believed). It’s often been suggested that if they’d been allowed to have a bit more time off between albums that they would’ve been around longer but there’s both that thing about hindsight and the fact that A&M had money to be made there and then.

While Sting may have struggled with truly strong lyrics – see Aphoristic’s brilliant take on this – the trio always had a knack for creating great tunes, surging out with the energy of the punk scene with genuine musicality and some brilliant song dynamics.

So, without a red dress in site, here are five crackers from The Police which, conveniently, seem. to have fallen as one from each album.

Truth Hits Everybody

Message In A Bottle

An obvious choice, perhaps, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a cracker.

Driven To Tears

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

I still think it’s the most wonderful gear change in music and, for once, Sting’s lyric ‘and ask her if she’ll marry me, in some old fashioned way’ is pretty decent. Shame about that Sandra Bollox movie

Synchronicity I

The Police’s later career is where you’ll find most of my favourite cuts. I named Synchronicity my choice for 1983 in the (currently on hiatus due to artistic differences) Albums of My Years series – for me they were at their peak and as both a title track and album opener this is a corker and shows how far they’d come.

4 thoughts on “Giant steps are what you take…. Five from The Police

  1. Who exactly are you having artistic differences with on your posts? It’s your fucking blog.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly on the Police. A great band with great songs and top-notch jazz-oriented players. I can’t agree that the problem with tensions in the band was all Sting’s fault. There were three healthy egos there like Cream. Copeland and Sting almost came to blows a few times. But all that aside, I could wax rhapsodic about each guy – Sting’s great songs, bass playing, arrangements and voice, Andy Summer’s beautifully restrained guitar, and clever chords. And Stewart Copeland’s tasteful, tasteful drumming. I think he may be my favorite drummer. Listen to him here.

  2. I always have them pegged as a singles act, but the album tracks you’ve picked out are all pretty solid. I liked hearing Synchronicity I, which I hadn’t listened to for a while – sounds pretty similar to 1980s King Crimson. As you said, their discography would have been stronger if they weren’t pumping out albums so quickly.

    • I often sit on ponder that one as it seems applicable to quite a lot of bands and you think ‘if they’d been allowed to take a breather’.
      That album / incessant promo / tour / album / promo / tour cycle must be a killer. Is it the case of a label insisting on getting as much out of its charges as possible irregardless of burnout, is it the only way to break through or is it trying to capture lightning in the bottle while the inspiration is there?
      I think Pearl Jam is the example in saying ‘no’ to the constant promo and managing to survive but there must be others too.

      • Yeah it happened a lot through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It’s interesting how they’ve now decided that a big promotion cycle every 2-3 years is more lucrative.

        The Smiths managed to keep up the quality pretty well but it feels like the constant treadmill ripped them apart. Elton John was pretty much cranking out two albums a year in the 1970s and his quality control suffered.

        I think Sting just isn’t a very fast writer and his filler tracks are more obvious than other writers.

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