George Starostin's Reviews



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Glenn Wiener <> (08.10.2001)

Its really hard to express my feelings on these guys. I respect The Police for the little creative touches and unusual rhythms that they add to their music. Some of the touches on 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and the Synchronicity CD are quite nice. Rockers such as 'Roxanne', 'So Lonely', and 'Its Allright For you' sound good to my ears. None the less, songs like 'Canary In A Coalmine', 'De Doo Do Do', and 'Walking On The Moon' just seem to get on my nerves. The diluted reggae sounds combined with Stings whiny chirping just get on my nerves. There are moments though when Sting's vocals display some power emotion and are even quite soothing. At the moment, I guess my opinion on The Police is kind of mixed but that may change as I get the opportunity to listen to their CD's on a deeper level.

Steve Potocin <> (02.12.2002)

I have always admired The Police because they were different from everyone else. I just did not go crazy over their tunes. I'll tell you one thing, those boys could PLAY! 3 great musicians.

Ben Kramer <> (13.12.2002)

Well, I definitely wouldn't give them 4*'s, though they are an easy three star band. The thing with the Police is that they have very consistent albums with only a couple pieces of filler on any of their albums, but very rarely did their songs cross the line to true greatness. That isn't to say that they don't have great songs, because I'd give Reggatta, Zenyatta, and Ghost all 13's. It's just that they couldn't push it to the next level to create a masterpiece. None of their songs are ranked among my absolute favorites, and they never created anything as emotional as 'Heaven' or as freaky and creative as 'Cross-Eyed And Painless'. But even though I don't think they are the best artist formed after 1975 (Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and Joy Division beat them out. Al Dimeola is in that group too if you allow me to name non-rock artists.) they are an extremely enjoyable band who are very easy to get into. Anyway, here is my general rating for the Police:

Listenability - 5/5 - Absolutely no problems here

Resonance - 2/5 - ehh, gotta disagree here. They are a pop band. They never tug at your soul, even if some of Sting's lyrics are very profound.

Originality - 3/5 - "Duh. If the Police aren't original, nobody else from the Seventies and later is." What's that supposed to mean? The Police merged punk and reggae, plus they helped Talking Heads push new wave to it's peak, but their contributions to the music world lie in their quality music, not innovation.

Adequacy - 4/5 - No serious complaints here.

Diversity - 2/5 - They kind of lose here too, but I don't mind. Consistency can sometimes be better than diversity. Come to think of it, a lot of times it is.

Overall - 3.2 = 3 on the rating scale

Though they are probably one of the highest 3* bands around because of three albums deserving a 13, even if they are all kind of on the low end of a 13. A great band they are, and considering the type of band the Police are, I don't think I should be asking for much more from Summers, Copeland and Sting.

<> (08.02.2003)

I have tremendous respect for the Police, as accomplished songwriters, and extremely talented musicians. It is quite humorous to me when I see these guys referred to as a punk band. Sting was playing in a jazz band in Newcastle called Last Exit when Stewart Copeland found him, and all three had extensive musical backgrounds. They may have played the part of punks in the beginning, but their true musicianship eventually shone through. Andy Summers is the guy everyone talks about least, but he was a tremendous guitar player. Maybe he didn't play a lot of leads, but in concert on songs like 'Spirits In The Material World', he faithfully reproduced the keyboard sounds. Sting was an extremely talented and very smart individual. He read extensively and his lyrics often reflected the latest books he had just read. Outlandos and Reggata are great raw albums. Zenyatta and Ghost are grown up and nothing short of brilliant. Synchronicity is the zenith of their creativity and after Thriller, the biggest album of the 80's. What happened? For one thing, the three for the most part really didn't get along. There were actual fistacuffs on occasion in the studio. When the Police turned into the Sting show, he started having a pretty good idea of how he wanted his songs done. On Synchronicity for example he came into the studio with demos of all the songs telling the others this is how they're going to be done. Stewart and Andy said you mind if we have a say in this? Another thing is that first and foremost, Sting is a jazz fan. I don't know if it's still in print, but find Sting's live album Bring On The Night with Branford Marsalis and the other jazz cats backing him up. He truly sounds in his element. Will The Police ever get back together? Well, they're due to be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame this year and are scheduled to play. We'll see won't we? Do me a favor and ignore every greatest hits compilation by this band and get the albums...all of them. In order as to how they were released. Or just get the box set. It does have everything. This in my opinion was the last truly great band to come around. Their music is still a step above most and can outplay anyone on a good day. Here's hoping they come around one more time.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (28.11.2003)

I am a pretty big fan of The Police. Along with U2, they are the only band formed after 1975 that I like a lot. However, I don’t quite agree with giving them four stars, no matter how much I like them. And I also believe that none of their albums is really worth a rating of 14. Reggatta de Blanc and Zenyatta Mondatta are easy 13’s but not quite 14. The advantage of releasing only five albums means that there was no chance of them releasing a really crap album as their ideas dissipated. Honestly, if The Police stayed together, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they headed down the same path as Sting’s solo albums. I haven’t heard any of his albums completely, but I definitely don’t like what I have heard. In fact, when I first started getting into The Police, a friend lent me a greatest hits compilation The Very Best of Sting and The Police. I really liked a couple of the tracks, but quite a few of them turned me off. As I later learnt it was The Police tracks that I enjoyed and the Sting solo tracks that I disliked.

Anyway, I soon as I learnt that I went out and bought the five studio albums. And they are all fantastic! Well, I was a bit disappointed with Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity but they are still much better than the average album. The experience of Ghost in the Machine was partially ruined with all the synthesizers, keyboards and saxophones, and Synchronicity was heading down the path of adult contemporary pop. Not that the actual adult contemporary pop on the album is too bad, it’s just not as special as the first three Police albums. The three band members are fantastic musicians, as they were always careful not to do too much – a very minimalist quality. Sting has a unique voice, and it is usually extremely catchy. Take a listen to ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ or ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ and try and get the chorus out of your head. I must stress though, that when I say catchy in a comment on The Police, I mean it in the best possible way. His bass playing was a characteristic of the band, whether playing with or against the beat. Andy Summers was the master of minimalist guitar work, never interfering with the bands sound. And Stewart Copeland is one of the most amazing drummers in rock history (for me anyway). By 1978 you would have thought that everything that could be done behind the drums had been done. But Copeland had a unique style with heavy accents on the cymbals, hi hat and the bass drum. His drumming on such songs as ‘Masoko Tanga’ and ‘Reggatta de Blanc’ is unforgettable.

My interpretation of the term ‘White Reggae’ is as follows. The style of reggae is obviously from Jamaica with people like Bob Marley bringing it to the world so to speak. Although I don’t know too much about reggae or Bob Marley, the style seems to have a very tropical feel about it. In the case of The Police, the fundamentals of reggae are the same, that is the swinging beat, disunison between guitar and bass etc. But, the reggae style of The Police seems much colder. You mentioned in your review of Reggatta de Blanc how the cover sets the mood for the album. I tend to feel the cover sets the mood for how The Police’s unique style of reggae. Not surprisingly, Reggatta de Blanc is the most reggaeish of the albums. Anyway, that is just an amateur’s view of the term. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether it’s white reggae, black reggae, whatever. The thing that matters is how good the music sounds. In The Police’s case the music is damn fine.

Neil Eddy <> (17.08.2005)

Hi George;

I have a theory about The Police... That in reality The Police were never a new wave band or a mannered punkisj minimalist outfit....

What they were is a bunch of funny old proggers... Lets look at their antecedents... Copeland - Curved Air, Summers - The New Animals and Soft Machine, Sting - Jazz Bands in Newcastle and Jazz Rock band "Last Exit".

Listening to Regatta De Blanc, it sounds like simple new wave style tunes right?

Wrong! The Police's stylisations were Prog to their bootstraps with their simple sounding riff hiding more complex chord structures and those interlacing complex rhthyms by Copeland just dripping drum technique. Andy Summers may have sounded simple but he rarely ever was - like New Zealander Phil Judd (Ex Split Enz, The Swingers), his material often sounds simple and stripped back but the chord progressions at times are far from normal..... It is also no surprise that Summers' post-Police albums include an album with Mr Fripp (I Advance Unmasked).

The later Police albums become quite progish as they go - The Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity especially. Personally I like Synchronicity as it's songs are strong from album's start to album's finish.

Whilst I find most of their albums pleasant enough, we ain't talking deep here. Sting and Copeland's lyrics rarely get above the banal.... The Police made elegant music maybe but this isn't Devoto and Magazine.......

Rick Atbert <> (08.09.2005)

The Police were my very favorite band as a kid, and even now I have tremendous respect for them. Not really a bad song, no album less than stellar, and no member any less than superb at their intsrument. Really they are the perfect pop band, so I agree with most everything you've said. I do disagree on one point, though, using the Message in a Box set I can say that, to my ears, it seems like they wanted to be a punk band...listen to "Fallout", "Dead End Job", "Landlord", and so forth. Also I think Reggatta is better than Zenyatta...but Ghost is certainly the most underrated...when I was a kid I thought it was easily their best album. One last thing, I gotta second the recommendation for Bring on the Night. Easily the best Sting solo album - the jazz band he recruited is amazing, and the majority of the songs are obscurities...even going back to some of the Police's B-sides like "Low Life" and "I Burn For You"!

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (25.02.2006)

When I was depressed and 15 and trying to impress this particular girl with my musical tastes { with no success, I might add, coz at the start of 79 it was very limited }, she mentioned a band called the Police with this singer called Sting and said they played white reggae and that they were the hottest thing in England at the time. Filled with jealousy at someone else taking up said girl's emotions, I totally dismissed the Police and referred to Sting as Stink......a couple of years later i heard " Message " and thought it was ok, by then my tastes had gone through a revolution of no return but it was a little while before I really got hooked on this lot. And what a superb band I found them to be. Intelligent, crafty, melodic, rocking in a controlled way, inventive, social, instrumentally competent, vocally unique, great songwriters and they were smart enough to leave behind a relatively small output, falling apart at the height of their powers ( if you'll excuse the irony of that statement ). A bit like Icarus !! Granted, they weren't always the most diverse of bands on specific albums but they were a very diverse group overall. For me, easilly the best and most interesting band of the last 30 years.

Troy Phipps <> (17.03.2006)

As a teen in the late 70's stuck in the great midwest - the first time I heard "Roxanne" was an 'ear' opening experience - remember this was the last days of disco and nothing before this was playing on my radio - I went out bought Outlandos then heard they put out Regatta went got that then began exploring other artists (clash, e.costello, talking heads, b52s, devo, etc.) they made me hungry to find interesting music that wasn't tied to top 40 radio - I still listen to them today and wish the three of them long and happy lifes for expanding my curiousity about music!!


Rich Bunnell <> (19.05.2000)

A lot of people consider this to be more like a training ground for the Police's future success that happens to have a really catchy single on it ("Roxanne"), but I think it's almost as good as the following album. Most of the songs fly by in a catchy rush, but somehow it's still really easy to remember the fantastic melodies to songs like "Next To You" and "Can't Stand Losing You." You you you. The album only falters with those two songs at the end, though the parts of "Be My Girl" besides the monologue are really fun and catchy, if incredibly repetitive ("Won't you be my girl won't you be my girl won't you be won't you be won't you be my girl" - Sting's greatest lyrical moment?). And, Bob Marley ripoff are not, "So Lonely" is fantastic, even though my CD skips when it gets to that song. Blah. 9/10

Jaime Vargas <> (21.09.2001)

Stupid as it is, the spoken part of 'Sally' provides with a very fine tension-mounting towards the end when, Andy still narrating, the rave-up to 'Be my girl' is heard again. Wow!

Glenn Wiener <> (15.11.2003)

A strong debut indeed. The first three songs are just great. Everyone I am sure is familiar with the riveting single 'Roxanne'. Super drumming and loads of energy abound on 'Next To You' and 'So Lonely'. Some other creative touches exist throughout the record. Even 'Be My Girl' is kind of cute with Andy Summers rap in the middle.

The fourth song is a little boring and Sting's vocal tone can get annoying in spots. Otherwise, this record stands quite tall.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (28.11.2003)

Any band that can release a song as good as ‘Roxanne’ on their first album are worthy of some high praise. Not that it’s my favourite song on the album, like you George ‘So Lonely’ takes that honour. ‘Roxanne’ had a huge influence on the music world, and it typifies much about The Police’s style. Short sharp guitar strokes, throbbing bass, and drums that seem to be playing a different song! I find quite a few of the tracks to be a bit boring, verging on the realms of filler. Actually ‘Be My Girl – Sally’ is definitely filler. The Andy Summers monologue is just dumb, I don’t find it very funny, particularly when you have heard it so many times. I’m not a big fan of monologues in albums at the best of times though. Possibly the Vincent Price monologue in Welcome to My Nightmare (Alice Cooper) is an exception. And of course the extremely entertaining snatches in Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake but that is all.

Anyway, out of the remaining ‘fillerish’ tracks, ‘Next to You’ is slightly punkish, but not terribly exciting. ‘Hole in My Life’ offers an interesting rhythm, but is ultimately boring. ‘Truth Hits Everybody’ is similar to ‘Next to You’ but less punkish. ‘Born in the 50s’ is a razor that demonstrates why The Police didn’t attempt any 50s and 60s rock. I quite like the vocal delivery in the verses, but the chorus is so damn generic.

The remaining tracks are really what earns the album’s label as a fantastic debut. ‘So Lonely’ contains all the characteristic’s of a quality Police track – swinging beat, minimalistic guitars, and it also features an incredibly catchy Sting refrain. Everyone knows the track ‘Roxanne’ so I will skip that one. ‘Peanuts’ demonstrates that Andy Summers may have been a guitar demon. No, not really. In my opinion, this is the greatest all out rock song that The Police did (not that it had much competition). Again, the chorus is so damn catchy. Just like the next track in ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’. The band returns to its reggae rhythm to create another masterpiece. The last track in ‘Masoko Tanga’ is a surprise and I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Stewart Copeland puts in one of his greatest performances behind the kit, while Sting chants something in another language (an African language presumably). The song is probably overlong, but otherwise I have no complaints. Overall the album is a fantastic listen, with a couple of missteps. Fortunately the band would correct these missteps for the next album.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (27.02.2006)

Along with The Piper at the gates of dawn ( Pink Floyd ), Shades of deep purple ( Deep Purple ), On through the night ( Def Leppard ), For him who has ears to hear ( Keith Green ), Upon this rock ( Larry Norman ) and Boy ( U2 ), this is one of the best debut albums I have ever heard and were it not for the dreadful BE MY GIRL - SALLY and the boring MASOKO TANGA, it would possibly be the best debut i've heard. But even those 2 can't quell the fires of this remarkable set.

I was asleep in my sister's flat many many years ago when I heard this fantastic song come over the radio. Ordinarilly I would've just said 'yeah..' and let it go but something compelled me to stay conscious long enough to hear the name of the song and band [ easy over here coz the DJs never shut up; recording off the radio has long been a waste of time ! ] and it turned out to be " So lonely " by the Police and I was pleasantly surprized but as the days went by I couldn't remember if I'd dreamed it or not. A few weeks later I went off to the 2nd hand record shop in search of an album I could find it on and when I saw OUTLANDOS, realized I hadn't been dreaming. To be honest coz the record was cheap, I wasn't intending to listen to the other songs, but I thought I'd better, just to see if there was anything else on it that might be good.

HA HA HA HA, ANYTHING ELSE THAT MIGHT BE GOOD !!! What an understatement ! Apart from the aforementioned 2 and PEANUTS ( which is a good track, a dig at Rod Stewart and other rich stars ), each track on this collection is a gem and went a long way towards establishing the Police as one of the greatest bands of their time or of any time. In the last 30 or so years, only U2 have consistently challenged that and they've had five times the length of time the Police did. Kind of like the Stones to the Beatles. Although people have often been very critical of Sting's preachiness, I see it as a priceless asset of the man; after all, if you can put interesting opinions to music, then write songs ! I don't go with this idea that everything should be universally appealing or nonjudgemental. Truth is ( ha ha, it hits everybody ! ) that more often than not, preaching gives you a backdrop upon which to or from which to test things, formulate your own opinions, see the flaws in the one preaching, be challenged etc. Lots of people are preachy, politicians, actors & directors, ministers, celebrities, sports personalities, teachers....even George on this site, not to mention most of we commentators. You don't have to agree with opinions - neither do you have to ignore them. And Sting showed right from the start that he wasn't afraid to say what he felt in song (even if in retrospect he may cringe at some of his lyrics. I guess they're a bit like baby photos....) BORN IN THE 50s is a case in point. Dismissed by many commentators, it is IMHO a truly startling commentary on the changes that his generation witnessed at the start of the 60s. Given that Andy Summers was from a different generation, I wonder what he made of it. The line about losing faith and praying to the TV says more about the post - Christian transition to consumerism in the western world than anything I've yet heard, it's such a historic line. While there is a slight nod to punk in some of the songs and while the band liked a thrash now and again, they were simply too canny and too good on their instruments and way too melodic to ever be a punk band. NEXT TO YOU, an underrated track, smashes it's way in with a great lyric that underlines why fantasy is so much better than reality for so many teens ( !! ). The drumming alone ensures that this band has, at best, punky flavours but isn't punk. The 2 singles that heralded the police to the world at large are stunning. ROXANNE is simply beautiful. It's arrangement would be beautiful even if it were about planting potatoes. I think it's one of the songs that showcases Sting's lifelong battle with the Christian / Catholic religion. As often critical of it as enthralled, so many of his songs down the years have been informed by christianity. Not in an obvious way, but I think it is there. And ROXANNE has the forgiveness of Christ and the mercy of the gospels running through it. Upbringing can be a powerful thing. CAN'T STAND LOSING YOU is wonderfully humourous yet as disturbing in it's own way as the future EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE. When I used to play in a pool league, it was the song to sing if you lost - " I can't stand losing pool !! HOLE IN MY LIFE and TRUTH HITS EVERYBODY both played a crucial part in my life and are both superb songs, especially the former. Respect goes to Andy Summers throughout the album because, arguably, he plays beneath himself. I don't mean that disparagingly, it's just that he was capable and used to much more complex and flashy playing. In the process though, he learned the difficult art of " less is more " and throughout the Police's career, his varying sounds and styles were to be vital components in the overall picture. And Stewart Copeland demonstrates that a really intelligent drummer can make complex patterns sound really ordinary and lively and simple parts sound creatively daring. Together, the band sound quite disjointed in parts, but you have to really listen closely to hear that. Once you get past the initial overall sound, the parts are every bit as fascinating in their own way as the sum of those parts. This is an album that bears repeated listening.


Rich Bunnell <> (26.10.2000)

Well, what can I say? An absolute triumph. Easily one of my top ten all-time favorite albums. "Message In A Bottle" in itself is better than anything on Outlandos, and that's saying a lot. The punkers like "It's Alright For You" and the out-of-control "No Time This Time" are much more memorable than everyone gives them credit for, and the ballads ("Bring On The Night," "The Bed's Too Big Without You") sound like they mean it. The title track might just be the definitive Police song, containing pretty much all of their trademarks -- soaring vocals, rumbling, watery lead guitar, and a slight reggae beat. I really love Copeland's three songs, too, even "On Any Other Day". It has dumb lyrics and a retarded vocal delivery, but it still rocks with the best Police rockers. Before I go through all of the songs (because there isn't a weak one to be found) I'll just brand this one with a big fat ten. People have got to stop assuming that this album sucks because it was quickly recorded-- if anything, it HELPED the results.

Seth Edwards <> (19.01.2001)

Signs of development begin to show up here already. The two most famous songs here ("Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon") are easily my favorites, maybe even out of the entire Police catalog. The main riff from "Message in a Bottle" is just classic. While I'm at it, I should mention that I also really dig "Its Alright for You". Yes it techincally a punk song, but I don't have anything against punk personally. When I first heard this album I didn't really expect that any other of the group's albums would be as good, but I was wrong of course.

Palash Ghosh <> (06.03.2001)

George, I think you should've given The Police their own separate section –- they were easily the most significant pop groups of the late 1970's-early 1980's. They seem to come out of nowhere and had such an instantly attractive and hypnotic style about them. They were the first contemporary group I liked (up until them I seemed to only listen to groups who were long gone). It was exhilarating to actually follow a living, breathing musical entity for a change.

Reggatta de Blanc is indeed a splendid record, very dark and atmospheric -- with their dyed blonde hair, and songs that were somehow both soothing and menacing, The Police were highly original and unique, like nobody else. You're right, George, the album cover perfectly captures the strangely dark and otherworldly mood of the record. I have no idea what the title really means, but it sounds cool, doesn't it?

I remember back in those days some people (including Elvis Costello) criticized Sting's singing voice (that is, the high-pitched vaguely Jamaican affectation he acquired), but I think his voice sounds great and perfectly matches the somber bass lines and Andy Strummer's astonishing chords. There isn't a single weak track on here! The well-known classics, 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Walking On The Moon' are immortal; but I like the lesser known tracks as well. 'Bring On The Night' and 'Contact' should be just as highly praised as the first two.

I must be the only person in the world who LOVES 'On any other day' –- I find it hilarious, exciting and catchy. It doesn't really have a 'hook' per se, but the sudden change in tempo (and key?) when he launches into the goofy chorus ("and it would be okay...") is downright breathtaking! My very favorite selection is, believe it or don't, the eccentric instrumental 'Reggatta De Blanc' (and I generally dislike instrumentals). The Police were a bright light (siren?) in an otherwise dreary climate of 1980's music.

Mike DeFabio <> (05.09.2001)

A thirteen? Sure, why not. The songs are all really good. And it really shouldn't be, but "Does Everyone Stare" is by far my favorite song on here. Any teenager who hasn't felt this way about someone is a soulless robot. The last verse in particular contains what I believe to be some of the most heartshattering moments ever put on a rock album. It's not whining. It's real.

I'm all depressed now. I gotta go step outside.

<> (25.01.2002)

two of them are only narrow-minded, but sting is a real asshole. trash for the tillerman`s beautiful daughter.

Simon Loftus <> (28.02.2002)

Best Album of 1979???, come on get a life. Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures knocks this into a cocked hat.

rick spataro <> (25.08.2002) in the friggin HELL can you give this album such a high rating, huh?? I love The Police, and my band and I have played numerous covers of their songs, but gotta really be kidding me if you think this album is soooooooooo great. First and foremost, I don't care HOW much you try to embellish the fact..'Contact', 'Does Everyone Stare', 'No Time THis Time', 'Deathwish', and 'It's Alright For YOu' are ALL fillers....and don't dare give me that crap about it just being MY opinion, ok? For Christ's sake, its so obvious!! Out of all thier records, THIS was their weakest one. And why, why WHY does every godamned song have to hook you??? 'On Any Other Day' may not be "hooky", but its a damn fine song. I read alot of your reviews, and it seems to me that you EXPECT certain bands to have a variety of styles on one album...Jesus Christ...haven't you ever heard of a proven formula?? If the band wants to have a different style, it'll develop it through an entire album..but why the hell should a band be put down because it doesn't have variety in one single album? Most people I talk to agree that this album is nothing short of a fast recording, probably to fulfill a contract obligation. Wake up already.

Steve Potocin <> (02.12.2002)

I like 'Message in a Bottle' as much as most people, but am I the only one who hear a riff lifted from 'Don't Fear The Reaper'? Hey, it's the only good song B.O.C ever did and they did it first.

<> (11.02.2003)

I think I'll have to repeat this until I'll be sick of it. I'm French and excuse me for my lack of English. "Reggatta de blanc" does NOT mean "white reggae" ! it is as meaningless as Outlandos d'amour! "Reggatta" isn't a French word but a Spanish one, meaning "a race of bulls", and has no link with reggae.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (28.11.2003)

Oh yeah, this is my favourite Police album, just slightly nudging Zenyatta Mondatta in the process. ‘Message in a Bottle’, ‘Reggatta de Blanc’ and ‘Walking on the Moon’ are at the highest echelons of anything The Police ever produced. As well as these three masterpieces, the remaining songs are just so damn consistent. I couldn’t even pick one weak track on the entire album. Ok there are ‘weaker’ tracks like ‘It’s Alright For You’ and ‘No Time This Time’. ‘It’s Alright For You’ is pretty much like the punk songs from Outlandos d’Amour, but it is an improvement. For one thing it features an interesting mix of fast and slow tempos in the verses. ‘No Time This Time’ is a slightly disappointing way to finish the album as The Police were not great at all out rockers (‘Peanuts’ excepted). This is probably due to Andy Summers limits in the guitar leading caper.

The remaining tracks are all great though, just being overshadowed by the aforementioned masterpieces. ‘Bring on the Night’ is a delightful little reggae track, which at this stage the band were able to make on command. ‘Deathwish’ contains the fantastic changes in tempo, and superb bass work by Sting and Copeland’s foot. The only flaw with the track is that it is not catchy, not a criticism I can aim at The Police too often. ‘On Any Other Day’ is an enjoyable track, featuring an unusual (but catchy – for me anyway) chorus. The chorus seems to be sung with each syllable at an alternating volume (possibly even pitch? I cannot tell), but it works all the same. The best part is when Sting joins in on vocals towards the end. ‘The Bed’s Too Big Without You’ features the interesting rumbling bass line, while Andy Summers plays the simple reggae pattern. ‘Contact’ features a dark lingering bas! s line. ‘Does Everyone Stare’ contains a piano, which is extremely interesting in itself. While the song may appear out of place, I am quite welcome to it. If it is cabaret, The Police still do it with their own unique characteristics stamped all over it.

I won’t say too much about ‘Message in Bottle’ and ‘Walking on the Moon’ because no doubt everyone is familiar with them. Suffice to say both the tracks showcase Copeland’s amazing drumming ability, and Andy Summers make clever use of echo on his guitar. The same praise can be aimed at ‘Reggatta de Blanc’ – a huge surprise on this album. Sting’s bass and Copeland’s drumming is immense as always. Andy Summers uses the echo on his guitar to great effect again. (Actually the matter of echo provides a wonderful moment on the track, where Sting asks for the echo to be supplied on his voice, before he ‘sings’. To me those wordless vocals are beautiful.)

For me, Reggatta de Blanc is the pinnacle for The Police, although I do understand if you prefer Zenyatta Mondatta. In some ways, this album can be thought of a foundation for Zenyatta Mondatta. Take a bit of reggae, add a splash of pop and ska (and just a pinch of repetition) and you have Zenyatta Mondatta, another masterpiece.

PS If I say the word ‘masterpiece’ anymore I will sound like Konstantin Tikhonov.

Glenn Wiener <> (08.01.2004)

Some intriguing rhythms but some filler tracks bring this one down. 'Message In A Bottle', 'Bring On The Night', and 'Its Alright For You' are highlights for you. Great drumming that certainly captivates me. However, songs like 'Death Wish' and the title track just get stale as the instrumental passages do not vary enough. And 'Walking On The Moon' and 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' are just annoying with Sting's screetching vocals. I prefer the debut and Ghost In The Machine to this.

David Dickson <> (10.12.2005)

The Wall. Wall Wall Wall Wallw allw awlalwlawlwawlwaaW. Dino dino dino. This record begins with a walloping first side and then inexplicably turns to suck in the final three songs. But WHAT a great first eight! I listened to it last three months ago, but I still remember what and increibly GREAT instrumental the title track is. Puts Rush in their place, it does. Sorta. But perfectly flowing is damned important, especially in a genre as traditionally "mathematical" as this. Actually, I just read your comments on Ween, and I think I fall into the "same old trusty emotions" camp. Truth be told, Ween might appear to embody those old emotions (even if they're just examining them), and if they do, I'll probably like them. These guys-- they're a little more minimalistic and robotic than that. Great songwriters, yes, but they have filler on their albums, and if the emotions ain't there, the filler can't be excused. At least that's the way I look at it. Maybe I'm just valuing surface-level superficial duh-grade emotion- jerking traits too much. Or I hung out with the stupid kids in high school. Capn Marvel at least thinks so. Ye never know!

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (25.02.2006)

They were never a reggae band though what they were was something altogether more powerful - reggae flavoured.There's a more than subtle difference there. They also carried other flavours and that meant that they weren't limited by form. This album has nods in the reggae direction, obviously, but it is alot more than that !

They get away with murder on this collection and 20th century music is richer as a result. MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE has the most fantastic dynamics and Steve Potocin is pretty astute in his observation of this sounding like Blue Oyster Cult's " Don't fear the reaper " !! Well, the guitar riff. Of course MESSAGE beats REAPER out of sight ( good as reaper is ) and the way they take the tune out is magnificent. The copycat nature of the Police turns up in IT'S ALRIGHT FOR YOU, another fantastic song that blasts along in great power. I must admit, I don't think of it as punk at all - it's one of those songs that is so heavilly influenced by Dylan's SUBTERANEAN HOMESICK BLUES from a decade earlier. There's quite a few songs written in that style. With this one, try singing the opening verse of Dylan's song then launch into the chorus " it's alright for you......" or the other way around and you'll see what I mean ! BRING ON THE NIGHT, a ska / reggae flavoured track isn't one of the best but the way the drums are mixed so high and loud really gives this ditty some thump. BED'S TOO BIG WITHOUT YOU really makes me laugh, it sounds like a practice session where they are trying to get all the changes right ! I don't know if it's meant to sound so unrehearsed but it adds a quirky element to an otherwise serious piece. I don't really like the title track and DEATH WISH would be one of the most pointless tracks they did were it not for the way the bass and bass drum mesh together on the verse section - all aspiring engineers, take note ! At first NO TIME THIS TIME is almost spoiled by it's seeming lack of a melody, but this is deceptive as it isn't tuneless at all. Rather it's buried under the general fizz of the song and this is one cooking hot tune. WALKING ON THE MOON is ok, it has kind of grown on me over the years although it's chorus has always been it's winning feature and second to none. But I must be weird coz I rate Stewart Copeland as a great songwriter. His drumming prowess is not in question, along with Bill Bruford he was such an intelligent drummer with a really musical drum style, yet able to kick ( literally ) with violence and movement. But his songs provided a different string to the Police's bow. CONTACT has the most superb intro with some of Andy Summers' neatest playing, before going into a downward riff that sustains the verses. A ridiculously great song, ditto for ON ANY OTHER DAY. The harmony singing on the verses is awful and irritating but it works on the choruses and the humour of the lyrics underscores a serious point about middle class values. Although it's satirical, one can't help feeling some sympathy with the guy in the song ! And DOES EVERYONE STARE is such a rich tune, weird in every way, paranoid, yet so accessible. Certainly different.

As were the Police. Yet unlike alot of their contemporaries, they threw in musical skill, great hooks, accessability and damn good songs in an unbeatable combo.


Rich Bunnell <> (19.01.2001)

Holy CRAP! A fourteen? I think it's a great album, but to christen it as the best album of the last quarter-century does quite a bit of injustice to too many wonderful albums for me to name. I'm not going to sit around and pretend that this is a weak album like I once did, however. The only song that I can actually peg as a boring clunker is "Shadows In The Rain," and Sting must've realized that because he completely rerecorded it for The Dream Of The Blue Turtles. The rest contains some wonderful pop - it's almost impossible to get tired of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" unless it's the crummy 1986 version, and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" is probably the only happy pop song ever to use the phrase "ties me up and rapes me." "When The World Is Running Down..." merits its long title with a great, dreamy melody that transcends the song's repetitive structure, and "Bombs Away" is probably Copeland's most melodically-solid composition.

As for the more bizarre stuff, I used to hate it, but now I love it. "Behind My Camel" is ugly, yes, and should not have won a Grammy by any means, but it succeeds because Andy doesn't try to stretch out the song beyond its limited, monolithic reach. And I can't believe there was once a time when I didn't adore "Voices Inside My Head," probably the band's best mood piece (and funky, kind of, in an empty sort of way). Finally, I love both of the ska songs even though instrumentally they both sound exactly the same. I can tell them apart easily, but it's pretty obvious that one of them is a rewrite of the other one. Anyway, good album; a little schizophrenic, but so are the following two albums, and this is almost undeniably better than either of them. 9/10

[Special author note: I'd just want to say that while there might be other Eighties and Nineties albums that approach the level of ZM on a pure melody basis (and maybe even transcend it, although that's debatable), I still have to find an Eighties or Nineties album that approaches the level of ZM on the basis of 'untrivial approach to what formerly was a basic pop structure'. I mean, heck, the Police absolutely revolutionized the very idea of a pop song - too bad they had no worthy successors in that area. Also, although Rich is so intent on his idea that 'Man In A Suitcase' and 'Canary In A Coalmine' are just rewrites of each other he's already stated that on three or four different sites, I just can't see it. Sure, they're all based on the same ska pattern, but so is 'Obladi Oblada'. It's like saying that all blues sounds the same, or that Bob Marley only wrote one song in his life.]

Seth Edwards <> (19.01.2001)

Wow. What a great album! Unlike the previous album, there aren't any songs on here that overshadow the rest of the album. Sure, "Dont Stand so Close to Me" and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" are both famous songs, but they aren't nearly so famous as "Message in a Bottle" or "Roxanne", etc. I didn't care much for the instrumentals on Regatta de Blanc much, but on here they're all fantastic! Personally, I'd give this one a 10, although I haven't heard Ghost in the Machine or Synchronicity yet.

Mike DeFabio <> (20.01.2001)

Yes, Rich, a fourteen. A magnificent, fantastic album. One of my all time faves. This is just one of those albums that puts images in my head. George used the word "atmospheric" and that's just what it is. That chorus-y guitar sound, combined with beautiful pop songs and spooky instrumentals, makes for quite a trip. I never listen to it as I'm going to sleep, because just as I'm about to drift off, all of a sudden... "VOICEEEEEEEEES...INSIDE MY HEEEEEEAD!"

Every single thing that made the Police one of the best bands of the entire eighties decade is on here. Great songwritin', great singin', great playin', and absolutely FABULOUS production. A fourteen? You're darn tootin'!

Oh, by the way, Mr. Starostin has just replaced Mark Prindle as the top reviewer on the web, as Prindle seems to be far too busy bashing Radiohead and ruining "Fight Club" to do any SERIOUS reviews.

Palash Ghosh <> (06.03.2001)

I understand that Zenyatta Mondatta was recorded in an atmosphere of great stress and turmoil (particularly between Sting and Stewart Copeland) =– and almost every song in it seems to reflect that interplay between tension and release, tension and release... It's an absolute pop/rock/new wave/whatever-you-wanna-call-it masterpiece, and it's aged rather well. 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'De Do Do Do De Da Da Da,' 'Driven to Tears,' 'When The World Is Running Down' and 'Canary in a Coalmine', are all pop classics and sound as fresh and innovative today as they did 20 years ago. The four instrumentals, 'Voices Inside My Head', 'Behind My Camel', 'Shadows In The Rain' and 'The Other Way Of Stopping' are the 'weakest' moments on the album, but even they have their various merits.

Jaime Vargas <> (21.09.2001)

About thye rewrite of 'shadows in the rain' about which Rick comments...did you know that the version in The Dream of the Blue Turtles is in fact the original arrangement? According to Sting he had to rewrite it because when he played to the others they said 'Uugghhhh! That's jazz!!' Don't know though - must have been some kind of 'stylistic attitude' because, as far as I'm concerned, both Stewart and Andy have toyed with jazz later...

Federico Fernández <> (07.11.2003)

I don't agree George. The best album of the last twenty-five years? Really? Yeah, I know there were few great records since Zenyatta... but a 14? No, one more of your gross overratings. First of all, it's true, like you point, that The Police turned inside-out the whole concept of pop music like no other band did ever since, but essentially there's nothing here that didn't appear in Regatta de Blanc... it's just more of the same, with the only difference that this one here displays weaker songs. Let's face it: there are few memorable melodies, most of the instrumentals are er... interesting... but hardly classics. And the pop songs are fun, but nothing here can compare to gems like "Roxanne", "Message In A Bottle", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" or "Every Breath You Take". "Don't Stand So Close To Me", the inexplicable hit, is fine, but the melody is pretty dull, and the stupid poppy chorus is AT LEAST annoying and underwhelming. That chorus is something I HATE to listen to 'cause it could me made SO BETTER. The same goes to "Do Do Do De Da De De Do Daaaaa" thing. Ok, this one's FAR catchier, but really, a song with that title can hardly be too good. The best compositions can be found in "When The World Is Running Down..." which has a very cool atmosphere (nothing else) and the GREAT, groovy, catchy instrumental "Voices Inside My Head". "Bombs Away", with a great Crimsonian guitar solo is also quite attractive and the third best thing here. "Canary In A Coalmine" and "Man In A Suitcase" are really innovative (specially the former), but too much lightweight and eventually grating and quite dumb. "Driven To Tears", based exclusively around a pedestrian bass riff, is plain unremarkable, and the rest of the instrumentals... well, they're ceraintly there, but I hardly notice them. I can see you point when you say that Joshua Tree, Ok Computer and London Calling aren't as creative as this one. I agree, the arrangements on Zenyatta are good... but that's not enough for me. I need great melodies, great riffs, and also GREAT songs... In fact, this could be the WEAKEST Police album, easily. Regatta showcases the SAME brillant arrangements but with more edge, energy, melody and atmosphere.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (28.11.2003)

The only reason I prefer Reggatta de Blanc over this album, is that the ‘classic’ songs are of a higher quality. The albums are both as consistent as each other but I find ‘Message in a Bottle’ and ‘Walking on the Moon’ to be much better than ‘Don’t Stand so Close to Me’ and ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’. In fact ‘De Do Do Do…’ annoys me quite a lot, I can’t stand the chorus. It’s still a better than average pop song. ‘Don’t Stand so Close to Me’ is a deserved classic though. Sting sure knows how to create a catchy refrain. The greatest song on this album for me is ‘Voices in my Head’. Yes you heard that right. The rhythm section creates a tremendous, constant funk groove, with Andy Summers beautiful echoey guitar. The song is capped off by Sting’s chanting in the middle of the song. As for the other instrumentals, I really like ‘The Other Way of Stopping’ too and ‘Behind my Camel’ isn’t bad. ‘The Other Way of Stopping’ features wonderful use of echo on the drums this time. ‘Shadows in the Rain’ can get quite boring though because the band relies too much on the atmospherics, and it doesn’t quite work for me. At five minutes the instrumental section towards the end should have been finished earlier.

‘Driven to Tears’ is consistent in the best meaning of the word. ‘When the World is Running Down…’ is a relative highlight (that means even better than the average song on this album, which is very high in itself). I just adore the echo on the guitar. I’m not a big fan of ska at all, but that is probably because I am so sick of the generic ska bands that abound in Australia. Anyway, the two ska tracks, while not the greatest songs on the album, are definite highlights of the genre. In particular I found ‘Man in a Suitcase’ to be incredibly catchy (again) with some fantastic vocals by Sting. ‘Bombs Away’ is just plain fun, once again with Summers simple bouncy rhythm.

As for my thoughts about the best album of the last 25 years, I have not heard enough albums to make a valid judgment. Out of the albums bandied about here, I have heard all of them except London Calling (I don’t really like punk). I couldn’t vouch for Zenyatta Mondatta, because I actually prefer Reggatta de Blanc, nor The Joshua Tree, because I prefer The Unforgettable Fire. I think Ok Computer is a great album, but I still wouldn’t be comfortable proclaiming it as the ‘modern’ masterpiece.

Regan Tyndall <> (29.09.2005)

Hi George, I just thought I'd say that I agree that the Police are one of the great bands of all time, and also it's a great point that fans really do disagree over which album is the best. For the neophyte to the Police (is there such a thing?) I wanted to say that, although I like it a fair bit, I actually consider Zenyatta their weakest album. 'Behind My Camel' is filler if anything is, and certainly 'Shadows in the Rain' is much better on Sting's first solo album. 'Canary In A Coalmine' and 'Man In A Suitcase' are great little melodies, but little else... I find them a little too insubstantial, although they're still a lot better than the average band of the time. As far as I know, the band members themselves actually slighted this album after it came out, complaining how rushed they were in recording it and how they never were satisfied with it.

Two interesting points about this album: 1) It sounds really dated, unlike all the other Police albums (in my opinion). They fired the producer after this one, which usually isn't a good sign... you just click on any track and we're immediately in 1980. I'm not saying Regatta or whatever isn't purely a new wave sound, but this one for whatever reason just sounds... old. 2) The critical response to this album in the rock centers was like this: In Britain, it was mercilessly slaughtered by the UK media, who already had decided they hated Sting and would do whatever they could to deflate him (didn't quite work); In America, critics gushed over the record to call it a masterpiece. Go figure.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (26.02.2006)

This album seems like it's pulling in 2 directions at once ( ska and the other things ! ) and that is one of it's strengths. I'm not a great fan of their instrumentals but 2 of them are ok, BEHIND MY CAMEL is one dimensional and weird but it's got it's place; it's actually a rather humourous tune, kind of like a funny story but in musical language.....I've long maintained that music is a language all of it's own, capable of evoking almost everything that the spoken language can, but a little more difficult to read. THE OTHER WAY OF STOPPING sounds like a warm up that the band liked playing while the tape operator left the tape running while he popped out to the loo. It's cute though. DON'T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME is a cutie - shame they didn't include it's B side " Friends " on the album, it's so weird but a great track. DON'T STAND is a hilarious track about a really serious problem in schools. Over here in England, it was used as the theme for a roll on deoderant advert......I'm somewhat ambivalent about SHADOWS IN THE RAIN, the lyrics are superb but the arrangement sounds forced. But someone has pointed out that it was originally in a faster vein and it's no surprize that the BLUE TURTLES version I much prefer. It's a good example, however, of the fact that a good song is a good song. I do actually like the song but on here I have to fade it at a certain point because Sting's yelps make my nerves crawl. The sounds on this album are cleverly " mainstreamed " and the playing by Summers, Sumner & Copeland is really tight, energetic and subtle. WHEN THE one of the best, an absolute classic. Lyrically astute, I love hearing the video being referred to as a VCR ! No one in England calls it that ( though they might've done in 1980 ) and that makes me wonder whether they might've had their eye on America.....Musically it's one dimensional but it's what the band does with that dimension...! The bass and drums cook the same pattern virtually the whole way through and thumping it is too, the solo takes minimalism to as far an extreme as it will ever go again - it's just one note that fades in, reaches a crescendo then stops abruptly ! But it's brilliant. As is the song. It's monotonous but never boring, adventurous but not creative, rather it's the ultimate in making the most with the least and yet, they trash the punks and not the punk asthetic by putting in a superlative melody and a chorus that like a persistent rat in the house, just won't go away and has become immune to poison ! CANARY IN A COALMINE and MAN IN A SUITCASE are basically the same song with a slightly different twist and subject matter but they are no less excellent because of it. They are the ska highlights though ironically, SUITCASE has an interlude that is actually real reggae, not even flavoured, but a serious attempt at a dub. It breaks up the tension in this brilliant track. CANARY has a faster doubling time feel which distinguishes it from SUITCASE and a great set of lyrics and it's a cracker. It's no problem to have songs that are so close to one another, especially if they're as good as these two. BOMBS AWAY is yet another killer in the congregation, poignant nowadays with it's references to war in Afghanistan, yet full of great playing, Andy Summers being the standout player here with a great solo and tasty noodling in the runout. The singing is also first rate and the drum smack at the very start that heralds the tune is something I anticipate with relish every time I hear this album.

The title may be daft ( ok, ok, it grows on you ) and there may be inconsistensies but it's a great album, although I think they did better ( not much though ).

Dave Dickson <> (02.03.2006)


That word is its own paragraph. ;)

I can forgive the 14. No problem. OK. (computer.)

I'm not sure I can forgive the second part of the sentence, though.

This "only 14 of the last [twenty-seven] years" contention. . . well. . . you've admitted to growing up with it, much as I grew up with Metallica's Black Album. And, as you remarked, it's innovative (something I couldn't say for the Black Album, though it WAS unique for 1991). But to say nothing else had as innovative a musical texture since. . . uh, we're REALLY getting into subjectives there, and both Wire and Old Man Electronica are just itchin' to rear their ugly, mugly heads. Plus everyone else, I see, as waxed themselves blue about it. So I'll just repress my Demon of Contention and leave be.

Demon of Contention: (high-pitched, impish yell: "You're WRONG! WRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWROGOWNEOGRRRRRRR!!!! *goes into coniption fit, is squished dead by Demon of Submission*)

The only song that explicitly sucks on here is "Shadows in the Rain". The only songs that explicitly RULE on here, IMHO (Imho being my Swahili name for fellow web reviewers, typed in caps because I'm nuts) are "Don't Stand", "Bombs Away" and "De Do Do Do De Da Da DA dum de da du di." The rest are at least pleasant--Sting comes up with some well-constructed vocal melodies here--he just doesn't construct very many. He mostly creates one or two that fit, and places them in JUST the right place. Don't get me wrong, they're great melodies, but there's not enough of them, and from the Police's debut, I KNOW he's capable of cramming more in. Overall, the album has two problems that prevent me from regarding it as anything but a solid New Wave offering--very few (albeit good) melodies on most of the songs, and a very light, almost non-emotional vibe throughout. The album shows its "rushed" character--the band hasn't had the time to work on the songs to the point where they can truly make them emotive. Overall, this thing just doesn't feel "HEAVY" in a thematic sense. Wire's Pink Flag and Chairs Missing both do--and they're about nothing at all! It's all about the approach. Either rush it or wait--I say wait.

On the other hand, the album has a very, very big plus: FANTASTIC guitar tone. What a gorgeous, crystal-clear pure sound. And aped to no end by lesser bands. But hell, it deserves to be aped.

That said, the drums are WAY too loud. They make the band sound like a jazz combo. In a pop setting, that's not always a complimentary thing. Ooh, wait! You said we should re-arrange the tracks? I'm your man!

Side 1:

Don't Stand Too Close to Me Bombs Away Voices Inside My Head When the World is Coming Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around Man in a Suitcase Behind My Camel

Side 2:

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da Canary in a Coalmine Driven to Tears The Other Way of Stopping Shadows in the Rain

See? What would you do without me? Probably roll thine eyes less. Yeah, "Shadows" still sucks, but if you're going to close the album with something dark, weird, mysterious, and LONG, it might as well be that song. I wouldn't hesitate to give that album a 12.5, myself. In conclusion, Apollo Anton Ohno kicks mucho ass. As does the guy who got silver in the 50 km from Russia. 2010, baby. Mark it.

Oh, and the best album of the last 25 years (so far in my searches) is Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The best album of the last 25 years that George is likely to review in the next century is Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.


Glenn Wiener <> (23.01.2002)

A good album but not quite great. Some of the tracks have a monotnous song structure. As captivating a riff as 'Demolition Man' has, its a bit nerve racking over the course of five minutes without the benefit of a more varied melody. 'Hungry For You', 'Darkness', and 'Too Much Information' don't even have the riff to engage you although there are a few mildly interesting special effects.

Anyway, 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' is one catchy tune with hooks galore and a nice keyboard arrangement. Not to mention the super drumming by Stewart Copeland. Heck Copeland's drumming throughout is just great. Heck Sting may have been the frontman of these guys but the varying drumming styles are the glue which holds the sound of the Police together.

In general, this is a consistent effort by these guys. The ebst is very good and the worst is certainly tolerable.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (28.11.2003)

I was bitterly disappointed when listening to this album for the first time. That’s not to say it’s a bad album overall, just a let down after Zenyatta Mondatta and Reggatta de Blanc. I suppose I developed an early prejudice (which is not good) to the album after hearing the synthesisers in the introduction to ‘Sprits in the Material World’. As well as that, there are intrusive saxophones on some of the songs. I don’t mind synthesisers on the whole, I just didn’t like how they were used on this album. Anyway, putting that aside, there are many enjoyable tracks on the album, and on a good day the great tracks might just push the rating to 12 overall. For the me, the album seems to have the great tracks at either end of the album, the first three tracks are fantastic, the last two tracks finish off the album in a likeable fashion. ‘Spirits in the Material World’ is actually a pleasant introduction to the band’s new sound. It doesn’t set the world on fire, but it is good enough to be classed as a fine track. I still prefer the band’s previous method of creating the reggae rhythm on the guitar (who wouldn’t) as I feel the synthesisers are too drawn out, rather than the ‘bouncy’ effect on songs like ‘Roxanne’ and ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’. ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ is another deserved Police classic with yet another catchy Sting refrain. ‘Invisible Sun’ might just be the highest point on the album. I have no problems with the transition into the happier chorus, although it is the remainder of the song that makes this one so great.

But then the album descends a bit into filler for me (not that it’s bad). I find ‘Hungry for You’ and ‘Demolition Man’ to be rather bland. In addition ‘Demolition Man’ is way too long. ‘Too Much Information’ is better, with another extremely catchy refrain, but the overuse of saxophones can really get to me. ‘Rehumanize Yourself’ is a nice bouncy track with yet more saxophones. Sorry I am just not very fond of this instrument (funny thing that I actually used to play it when I was younger). It is not too intrusive on this song though. Anyway, the next track is ‘One World (Not Three)’ which contains – you guessed it – more saxophones (and possibly some brass instruments?). Now the saxophones really are intrusive on this track, but you may still enjoy it a lot. You must admit it is another very catchy song. ‘Omegaman’ is a boring razor. ‘Secret Journey’ and ‘Darkness’ finish the album on a ‘high’. A high in musical terms, certainly not in emotional terms though. Although repetitive, I don’t find ‘Darkness’ boring at all. And if you do find it boring, it’s only short so there can’t be too many complaints

Palash Ghosh <> (31.01.2004)

I agree that The Police "peaked" with Zenyatta Mondatta, thus, they had nowhere to go but down -- Ghost In The Machine represents a slight downward move in quality, but very slightly so. I think The Police (i.e., Sting, who was by now the incontestable dictator of the band) was desperate not to repeat anything; that is, to keep things fresh, and I believe he had mixed results.

For me, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is, well, pure magic. It's an instantly enjoyable song that I never get tired of listening to -- it's beautiful, uplifting, moving, exhilarating, exciting, warm. if you don't absolutely LOVE this song, you have no heart nor soul.

The rest of the album is mixed in quality. I also agree that with the wholesale introduction of synthesizers and saxes, this record no longer sounds like the "classic Police" (which I guess is best exemplified by Regatta De Blanc.). But give Sting credit for moving in new directions.

For my taste, Sting discusses too many temporal, political subjects on this record (sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, rising Fascism in the UK, the growing power of the mass media, etc.). I prefer song lyrics to be about timeless, universal themes, NOT about whatever is in the newspapers that week. I guess Sting wanted to show us he was "up" on current affairs.

In any case, after "Magic" there are no classic tunes on here -- though "Hungry For You," "Demolition Man," "Rehumanise Yourself" and "Darkness" are all excellent tracks, just not CLASSIC songs. I like Sting's frantic French pleadings in "Hungry" and I love that urgent police siren in "Rehumanise."

I always thought that "Darkness" was an ode to David Bowie's spooky soundscapes on Low -- it creates the same kind of dark, chilly atmosphere, but seemed a rather tepid way to end this album.

I canpot agree with your assessments on "Invisible Sun" and "Sprits In the Material World." I find these songs to be dull, bland and forgettable (much like many of the songs on their next and final album).

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (01.03.2006)

This is where my love affair with the Police really began, and as such I think it's a marvelous album. It may or may not be their best ( how can you quantify that, other than in terms of personal preference ? ) but I don't care; it is the only one of their albums where I like every one of the songs, it's a consistent effort and it shows that the band ( or maybe that should read Sting ) were maturing. I feel that one of rock's most damaging and stupid myths is the idea that rock is only for the young......I definitely admire those artists that sought to buck that trend and the Police were one of them. Yes, their sound was growing too and I respect that, because people have to grow and musical artists move on. Well, some of them do. Andy Summers said that he was unhappy with the album because he felt that he & Stewart were just backing up a pop singer and he disliked the brass and synths. Curious then, that he should, in my opinion, turn in the best song he ever did with the band, the immense OMEGA MAN. Whether it's psychedelic punk or not I can't say. What I can say is that it's superb. Not only one of Summers' best compositons, one of the top tracks on the album and I feel, one of the best Police tracks per se. And nothing at all akin to the Police's recognized style.

I don't think of this album as a downhill slide; a sideways step or a descent down the other side of the mount I'll accept, because that doesn't imply decline, rather a more relaxed exploration.

Stewart Copeland had always tended to write songs that were a departure from the general police sound so I'm kind of surprized that so many people were dismayed by the textures found on here. He also contributes a couple of clean right hooks, REHUMANIZE YOURSELF which I think is written with Sting, is a great little rocker, turgid and one dimensional, yes, but nonetheless powerful. The lyrics are quite surprizing for the times ( " he's got his arms in the air with the other cunts ! " ). Personally, I don't mind timeless and universal words but I also like opinionated lyrics as they give one a greater insight into the person writing. Sometimes, timeless & universal is just too politically correct. It has become fashionable to bash certain 'preachy' lyrics, but I wonder what there is to seriously disagree with in a song like ONE WORLD. A simple message, I'm often left wondering why we get so cynical about it and saying that a particular artist has millions in the bank and lives in luxury is no excuse ! Sting definitely contributes another series of winners with the mercurial EVERY LITTLE THING SHE DOES IS MAGIC and SECRET JOURNEY being jewels in a star studded crown for me. I remember back in '81 being mortified that Human League's " Don't you want me baby " beat EVERY LITTLE to single of the year ( even though it was a great and enduring song ), because the Police's rendition was one of THE singles of the 80s. And secret journey once again showed Sting's ( I think ) battle with Christianity - this time in the guise of universal nameless spirituality. He's written loads of songs grappling with this, going all the way back, even before the Police. And this is one of the best. SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD also deals with this theme - this was the first single I heard from the album and I always liked it, with it's ironic lines [ " our so called leaders speak " - from a man who was trying to lead ! ] and bizarre feel. Obviously Jesus and George Harrison's efforts weren't in vain ! TOO MUCH INFORMATION may have seemed trite at the time but there are probably not many people who couldn't identify with this now in the Western world as life has evolved into a morass of busy - ness and timelessness ( in the sense of technology not having created all this leisure time we were promised ) for so many.....HUNGRY FOR YOU is a hoot, I haven't after all these years got a clue what it's about [ my French pronounciation is more French than the French - it's just that my understanding is as French as the Panamanians ! ] although it should be quite obvious. DEMOLITION MAN is one of the few great actual riffs to come from the Police and every second of it is justified....and here Copeland's drumming is so nimble, yet muscular. A criminally overlooked drummer, he may have considered the Police thieves [ he thinks they rather plundered the reggae chest ] but whenever I hear him, all I hear is originality. His composition, DARKNESS, is one of the top 4 on this collection, another great set of lyrics and a fantastic mood set. The synth in the wrong hands could be as devastating as a nuclear weapon ( if you can catch the somewhat bombastic analogy ) but throughout the album it's tastefully used and in particular on this one. And INVISIBLE SUN may be about the troubles in Northern Ireland but I feel that it has a parallel theme of the tension between faith and perceived reality. I see this in alot of Sting's stuff. I first heard this as I toiled on the factory floor and I loved it but didn't know who it was by, so when I got the album, it was one great bonus. It's not unfair to say that some bands got worse as they got mature, but despite the tensions that surrounded the making of certainly doesn't apply to this album. Brilliant stuff.


Glenn Wiener <> (08.10.2001)

Some good special effects. I wonder who is playing what on each track as unfortunately the CD I borrowed from the library did not have the liner notes. I know that each band member is talented at many instruments especially Sting.

As far as this release goes, I prefer the more eclectic numbers such as 'Walking In Your Footsteps', 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', 'Murder By Numbers', and 'Tea In The Sahara'. 'Murder By Numbers' is undoubtedly my favorite on this disc with its compelling lyrics and stimulating jazz beat. Sting is also in fine form vocally. How this track missed the lp version is a crime and a sin.

Like yourself, I find the Andy Summer sung 'Mother' to be quite agonizing. God, lock that man up if he's got to howl like that. Unlike yourself I find 'Every Breath You Take' to be kind of plain and 'King Of Pain' not much more stimulating. None the less, the creativity stands pretty tall here.

Jeff Melchior <> (31.03.2003)

Now that I've been rediscovering The Police, I really wonder how I can continue to maintain that Synchronicity is The Police's best album. It lacks the pop smarts of Outlandos D'Amour, the white reggae catchiness of Reggatta De Blanc and the overall cohesiveness and strength of Zenyatta Mondetta. Yet Synchronicity is still my favorite Police disc for one reason: atmosphere. There is such a noirish atmosphere about the whole album that seems to make up for the artistic missteps. Am I crazy for actually LIKING "Mother"? Even though it's by no stretch of the imagination a good song, it adds to the overall angst of the record.

How could an album this dark have been released - and thrive - in 1983? In 10 songs we have themes ranging from depression to Freudian angst to nuclear warfare to obsession to atheism and - ultimately - to murder. Furthermore, how could one songwriter go from such challenging themes and music to lightweight pop so quickly? Only Gordon Sumner will ever know for sure...

Stephen Rutkowski <> (28.11.2003)

I was in no way disappointed with this album like I was disappointed with Ghost in the Machine because I kind of expected the more pop sounding version of The Police. Although this is a departure from The Police’s general sound, there are great moments littered throughout the album. There are ‘rockers’ (the two ‘Synchronicities’), atmospheric pieces (‘Walking in Your Footsteps’, ‘Tea in the Sahara’), great pop songs (‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘King of Pain’), throwbacks to the past (‘O My God’, ‘Miss Gradenko’), an amusing jazz track (‘Murder by Numbers’) and even paranoiac ramblings if that is your kind of thing (‘Mother’). ‘Synchronicity I’ is a great rocker (not at all conventional though) with tremendous use of harmonies during the chorus. ‘Synchronicity II’ cannot hope to compete with its brother, but it is still fine. ‘Walking in Footsteps’ is a nice track, but like so many atmospheric piece, it can get boring. Not so with ‘Tea in the Sahara’. This features beautiful Sting vocals, pleasant lyrics, pleasant atmosphere and a pleasant bass line. What more could you want? ‘O My God’ is neither here nor there for me, The Police had done much better things like this previously. ‘Miss Gradenko’ is much better though. Since Copeland wrote the song he got to throw in his great bass drumming style, which although a staple on previous albums, is nonexistent here. ‘Mother’ is absolutely horrid. If singing a paranoiac song such as this one, remember to think about the listener’s enjoyment of such unpleasant wailings. ‘Murder by Numbers’ is plenty of fun, with amusing lyrics and another catchy chorus. Actually my dad has just told me the song is crap. I suppose! I better listen to him… He does like ‘Every Breath You Take’ at least .

Now onto the pop hits. Pop or no pop, ‘Every Breath You Take’ is absolutely beautiful. Andy Summers provides an extremely simple but useful rhythm, and Sting does one of his greatest vocal performances. ‘King of Pain’ is another enjoyable pop track, with yet another catchy chorus. I don’t like ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’ though, with its heavenly synths and other ‘modern’ production sounds. And how annoying is that “drumming”? The introduction to the song is enough to turn me off. Even though there are quite a few moments I don’t enjoy, there are still enough great moments, and one absolute classic track (‘Every Breath You Take’) that would be enough for me to give this an 11, possibly even a 12 on a good day.

Palash Ghosh <> (02.02.2004)

I have a theory that pop music artists have a five-year period of “peak performance” -- after that, they usually go downhill. The Beatles (arguably) put out their greatest songs between 1965-1969, then they broke up. The Stones’ place at the top was roughly 1968-73. Elton John wrote wonderful songs between 1971-1974; then he suffered an endless decline. The list goes on and on.

With The Police, Synchronicity was released in (I believe) the SIXTH, and last, year of their existence -- the decline is already evident.  They soon broke up.

My main problem with this album are the two tepid, boring songs “King of Pain” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger” which not only represented Sting’s regrettable venture into ‘adult contemporary,’ but also received an inexplicable amount of radio airplay back in 1983-84. ‘Every Breath You Take’ is a fine song, with a nice, haunting melody, but that one, too, was overexposed to the point of nausea. More importantly, these songs just didn’t sound like the Police anymore. Where are Copeland’s killer drum beats? Where are Summers’ striking guitar chords? Why did Sting wish to become Engelbert Humperdinck at this point??

Still there was enough talent in the super-trio to put out some excellent songs: 'Synchronicity 1,' 'O My God,' and 'Murder by Numbers' are all classics in my book.

<> (29.04.2006)

Synchronicity was definitely the Police's Sgt. Pepper, or Who's Next. It was their greatest, biggest, most popular, era-defining work. The others were great - but Synchronicity really captured that 1983/1984 time.

Sting must have been going through a monster of a time because the songs are lyrically very downbeat. As perhaps the biggest rock-star for a couple years we can probably guess as to most of the identity issues he was going through. It certainly comes through on this album. And what a different character he was back then! Far from adult-pop, although not exactly a punk, he was truly a rage-filled agressive SOB - which was definitely his appeal. Side one has lots of cool rythmns and dark washes of mood, and existential lyrics. Side two created all the gold records, and contains the giant pillars and gothic chords of King of Pain, Every Breath, and Wrapped Around Your Finger. You couldn't go anywhere without hearing these songs in 1983 - and everybody loved em, Granny to kids. Amidst the charming sounds were such sad and angst filled stories of love gone horrifically wrong and twisted. This album was to me the heighth of 80s Brit Album Rock, only to be equaled by Joshua Tree several years later.

Sting cratered the band after this album. You know it had to be very freeing to do his own thing without suffering through 100s of hours of overdubs on things like "Mother". Sting got very creative with Blue Turtles and took his music in very exciting and broader directions. What may have been lost is the real tension - read anger - Sting and Stewart and Andy had when making music that may have contributed to The Police's "edge".

Synchronicity is a great album, and one of the rare ones you can listen to many many times.


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