Whatever, I’m no longer the proud owner of that precious vinyl set, and it was only recently I felt compelled to splash out on some sort of token replacement in the form of this album, 1979’s Reggatta de Blanc.
This was the second full-length offering from The Police, and it immediately preceded the release of the six pack – which contained the three singles on here (‘Message In A Bottle’, ‘Walking On The Moon’, ‘The Bed’s Too Big’) and three from the band’s debut, Outlandos D’Amour (‘Roxanne’, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’, and ‘So Lonely’).
Reggatta was a big improvement on the band’s raw debut outing, a far more polished effort, and it stands out as the landmark work ahead of the band’s more commercial Synchronicity (post-1983) period. This album offers a snapshot of the band on its way up, and the success of its first two chart-topping singles (‘Message’ and ‘Walking’) had helped to expose the band to a much wider audience.
also finds the three-piece Police somewhere close to a collective peak; the still hungry and ambitious Sting reserving his best vocal delivery
for the album’s slower moments, while Andy Summers’ unique guitar craft and
Stewart Copeland’s virtuoso drumming and percussion supplement perfectly the
egocentric vocalist’s (still occasionally rudimentary) bass-playing.
|The Six Pack|
The result is an album awash with offbeat rhythms, tight white reggae, and plenty of stirring and quirky lyrical twists, which more than make up for the odd corny moment and a somewhat uneven track-listing.
The dense and brooding ‘Bring On The Night’ rivals opener ‘Message In A Bottle’ as the best track on the album, and by extension, one of the very best things The Police ever did, while the skanky ‘Bed’s Too Big Without You’ is another one right out of the top drawer.
I’m not so keen on the more uptempo tracks, Sting’s vocal often being reduced to a fuzz, and almost paradoxically Summers’ guitar work somehow feels compromised and far less effective on the more rock-orientated numbers. Ditto the tracks credited to Stewart Copeland. Although, Copeland’s ability as a drummer – as one of the very best on the planet – easily offsets any shortcomings he may have had as a fledgling composer.
I was never overly impressed by Synchronicity, or indeed by the two albums that preceded it – Zenyatta Mondatta (1980) and Ghost In The Machine (1981) – and it’s difficult not to feel that The Police’s brief spell of global dominance also tended to rob the band of the mercurial charm that made it so unique and appealing in the first instance.
After the release of ‘Every Breath You Take’ had transported The Police into an entirely different stratosphere commercially, the writing was on the wall, and by the mid-Eighties an increasingly irritating Sting was in the process of launching a solo career that would take him into the netherworlds of folk and world music … and the band, mercifully, was no more. For the time being at least.