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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Police Re-Issues' (A&M / Universal)
Artist - Police
Intro: The Police were really a great band. Sting's songwriting and vocal style mixed smoothly with Stewart Copeland's erratically brilliant drumming, and Andy Summers' atmospheric and jazzy guitar playing. It was an energetic, stylistic combination that produced a sound that was very unique, and proved that some bands are the equal sum of their parts. Seemingly always on the musical pulse of the nation, all these re-issues explore nearly every accomplishment the Police ever made, including the musical exploration of the band (reggae-punk mixings, studio pop creations), and the intellectual prowess of Sting's songwriting ability. Sting could turn out beautiful melancholy pieces like the hits ’King of Pain,’ ‘Walking on the Moon,’ or ’Wrapped Around Your Finger,’ and also on lesser known gems such as ’Walking in Your Footsteps,’ or ’Driven to Tears.’

‘Outlandos d’Amour’
The rookie Police album, Outlandos d'Amour,' is superior to most others of their kind. There are a couple of diamonds here, namely the classic rock single ’Roxanne’ and a foot- tapper ’I Can't Stand Losing You,’ but having said that, ’Next to You,’ ‘So Lonely,’ and ’Peanuts’ are also solid efforts. This record has more misses than any other by the Police, however. Despite the slight fuzziness of the recording and the occasional flubbed note, Outlandos is a musical-outing that is often underrated but NEVER duplicated!

‘Reggatta de Blanc
On their second album, Reggatta de Blanc, The Police begin to refine the hard-hitting sound of their debut. In addition, while they had reggae in their first album, they include more on this CD, superior to that of ’Roxanne,’ in my view. Indeed, the group's ability to infuse rock with reggae elements frequently and with consistent success is one of its strongest legacies. Examples here are ’Message in a Bottle,’ a big single and signature tune for them as well as one of my favorites, and ’Bring on the Night.’ Their underlying punk influence can be heard on such songs as ’It's Alright for You’ and ’No Time This Time.’ Whether rawer, as on their debut, or more refined; at times, The Police's punk sound was musically superior and more appealing than what was normally heard from groups more strictly associated with the genre.

'Zenyatta Mondatta'
Zenyatta Mondatta represents, in my humble opinion, The Police hitting an early peak. It is not so much a departure from their previous sound as the next albums Ghost In The Machine and Synchronicity were, but rather a perfection of it, with a much deeper lyrical edge. The group has never sounded so effortless or relaxed, which is strange considering the supposedly rushed conditions in the studio. The driving masterpiece, ’Don't Stand So Close To Me’ moves straight into the thoughtful ’Driven To Tears’ and right into the ecstatic, ’When The World Is Running Down’ without a hitch, and it goes on from there.

‘Ghost In The Machine’
Ghost in the Machine is another musically proficient, intelligent work by The Police - the title appropriately prompting us to expect darkness and turmoil, and critiques of material (emphasize machine) culture and existence, which we get, starting in the good opener, the lively ’Spirits in the Material World.’ But the next track, ’Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,’ is a gem of a pop hit, which represents, as the Police's AM hits often do, among the better material on the album (along with the highly-underrated, ’Invisible Sun,’ which comes next). What compelling rhythm and beat, wonderful singing by Sting, and those chiming, pulsating keyboards! Like ’She,’ this song will turn you on, baby! Other standout tracks include the spirited reggae workout ’One World (Not Three)’ and the darkly atmospheric ’Secret Journey’.

Of their five albums, this one sold more copies than any other and was their most commercially successful. At the same time critics and fans alike raved. Those of us who were big fans back then are still listening to this one and loving every minute of it (almost). ’Synchronicity I’ gets the blood flowing and immediately goes into the prehistoric sounding ’Walking in Your Footsteps’ - which is fitting since the topic is dinosaurs! The ultra-dark ’Synchronicity II’ (with an equally dark video) seems to have Sting characterizing a dreary existence, but as we head into Side 2, as it were, a string of singles are afforded us. ’Every Breath You Take’ (not a love song, more of a stalker's anthem), ’King of Pain’and ’Wrapped Around Your Finger’ are the three hit singles. The rest of the songs are good as well, but then again, The Police always excelled at making timeless music. Here, they went just a little bit further pulling out all the stops and how fitting, since this was their last album before splitting up!

‘Live!’ (2-Disc)
The Police have been hailed as great musicians, great songwriters, and, well, hit-makers. It really shows Sting's songwriting abilities and The Police's ability to capture the attention of the crowd. The second disc is the one that has most of the more recognizable songs on it. With such hits as ’Roxanne,’ ‘Syncronicity (I and II),’ ‘Every Breath You Take,’ and ’Don't Stand So Close to Me,’ the second disc is a literal hit-generated powerhaus. The first disc was recorded before The Police were as big and as good as they would be in the eighties. The sound quality is good throughout both discs, although the first is a little more suited for a band playing at CBGB's in New York City (a haven for punk bands).

‘The Classics’
The Police were one of the last groups to create a sound that was unique. Their fusion of jazz, pop, and reggae put them into a league of their own. What made them even better was that their music progressed with each album, as only a handful of groups have been able to do successfully. The album begins with their first hit, ’Roxanne’, and concludes with a "classic rock mix" of ’Message in a Bottle.’ This album is for people who are not yet acquainted with the band, or those who want an album for only their hits. Some other of the highlights off of this album include ’Don't Stand so Close To Me,’ ‘Every Breath You Take,’ and my personal favorite, ’Wrapped Around Your Finger.’ Sting was a tremendous writer during his tenure with the Police. He had the uncanny ability to make the music revolve around his voice. This is not to take away from the contributions of Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. Sting may have written and sang the songs, but the Police was a group effort. Many speculate on where this band would have gone if they had stayed together. Hard to say really, but honestly, I feel they would have gone the only way that people can when they are on top: down. This album is essential to any collection of pop music.
Russ Trunk