Thursday, July 19, 2007

Can't Stand Losing You: The Police Story...Show # 154

The Police started out in 1977 in London, England. The band consisted of three members originally, Sting (real name Gordon Sumner on bass), Stewart Copeland (drums), and Henri Pandovani (guitar). After playing around London for a while, the band would get another guitarist in the place of Henri, Andy Summers. Just before their formation Sting was playing with a jazz band called Last Exit (he was also a teacher), Stewart Copeland was in a prog rock band Curved Air, Summers was a veteran rock guitarist. It is also important to mention that Copeland was from America, as opposed to Sting, and Summer who were from the UK. The band would form with an interest in becoming a punk band (as the punk scene was exploding in the UK, and in parts of the USA), but would go beyond punk and bring in different styles to their music such as, reggae, jazz, and would be known as not only a new wave band, but also as one of the biggest band of the eighties.

In May of 1977, the bands first single was released. The single for Fallout, did not do well chart wise at first. It would also contain two heavily punk influenced tracks "Fallout", and "Nothing Achieving". The band would then receive a recording contract with A&M Records. The reason for the contract would be due to the fact that Stewart Copeland's brother, Miles heard the song "Roxanne" and realized its potential, it helped the band get the contract. The single for "Roxanne" would be released in 1978 and would not chart (that would change when it was re-released in 1979). The song itself was Reggae pop song about a prostitute in a red light district (hence the lyrics "You don't have to put on the red light"), it would also be on their first album also recorded/released in 1978 Outlandos D'Amour. Outlandos D'Amour did poor at first, but would climb slowly when the band did a US tour. It would eventually climb to # 6 in the UK and # 23 in the USA. "Next to You" started the album. The song itself was a fast punk influenced song, Copeland and Summers wanted to song to differ lyrically (it was a love song written by Sting), but it remained the way sting wanted it. "So Lonely" was another song with reggae influence (Sting has said that he took influence for the way the vocals were sung from the Bob Marley song "No Woman, No Cry"), it was about loneliness. "Can't Stand Losing You" was another love song, that took a reggae influence, the single was banned due to its cover art, which featured Stewart Copeland on a block of ice with a noose around his neck, waiting for the ice to melt (an alternate cover was also created). "Peanuts" was written by both Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland, It is a fast rock song. The album finishes off with the instrumental track "Masoko Tanga". Outlandos D'Amour was a mix of punk and reggae tracks. The albums title would come from manager Miles Copeland meaning outlaws of love.

In 1979 Regatta De Blanc would be released (the title meaning white reggae). The album would contain the bands first number one hit song, "Message in a Bottle". The song was a flowing rock song with a stop and start reggae bassline, and heavier rock guitars as the chorus builds up to slow down again. The next single "Walking on the Moon" would also become a # 1 single, it was a reggae rock style track. The album also contained some Stewart Copeland compositions. "On Any other Day" was a fast rock song sung by Copeland about a comedic take on middle age troubles, "Does Everyone Stare" features both Copeland and Sting singing, it is a building rock song, and "Contact" was another punk influenced track composed by Copeland. Sting and Copeland also wrote the song "It's Alright For You" another rock song, that features Andy Summers watery sound guitar effects (as does most of his work on this album and with the band). All three band members are credited on the songs "Reggate De Blanc" (an instrumental track featuring chants from Sting), and "Deathwish". The album would show a change in sound from the band, while they were still influenced by both punk and reggae, the sound of the album was less gritty and more shiny or polished. The album also drew in some jazz influences (evident on the track "Bring on the Night").

Zenyatta Mondatta would come next in 1980. It was recorded fairly quickly (four weeks) and was written while the band was on tour supporting Regatta De Blanc. The album itself would be a new wave classic, the album would bring in more influences. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" was a song written by Sting about a teachers interest in a student. "Driven to Tears" was another new wave rock song with Summers trademark watery guitar sound and politically fuelled lyrics about poverty. "When the world is running down you make the best of whats still around" is another new wave rock track. "Canary in a Coalmine" and "Man in a Suitcase" were ska and Caribbean influenced tracks. Copeland also had two more compositions on this album "Bombs Away" a rock track about the conflicts with Afghanistan and the Soviets, and "The Other Way of Stopping" an instrumental track. The album also contained a Andy Summers composition, the instrumental "Behind My Camel" a song that Sting hated so much, he would bury the tapes in the garden. In fact Sting doesn't even play bass on the song, Summers would do that. "Do Do Do Do, Da Da Da Da" was the second single, both singles "Do Do Do, and "Don't Stand So Close to Me" did well, the album overall would reach # 5 in the USA and # 1 in the UK.

Ghost in the Machine was released in 1981 and would reach # 1 in the UK and # 2 in the USA. The album would be a huge change in the bands sound, it would feature saxophones, keyboards, and synthesizers. Lyrically inspiration came in a large part from the book Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler. "Spirits in the Material World" is drowned in keyboards, and itself is a dark sounding pop song, "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" features heavy piano while sounding Caribbean, "Invisible Son" is another dark sounding song written about North Ireland troubles. "One World (Not Three)" features a lot of Saxophones, "Secret Journey" was a song featuring heavily layered guitar effects, and "Omegaman" is a song about personal pressures written by guitarist Andy Summers. The album itself launched the band into the eighties with a new sound that would be expanded on their next album, Synchronicity.

In 1983, Synchronicity would be released, it would also be the bands final album. It would expand on the bands Ghost in the Machine sound, adding more world music influence to the mix. Recorded in the Caribbean the album would be influenced again by the work of Arthur Koestler (The Roots of Confidence) and would go to # 1 in both the USA and the UK. "Synchronicity 1" was another song with circling keyboards, while "Synchronicity II" was a heavy eighties rock song lyrically taking inspiration from Carl jung's theory of Synchronicity. "Every Breath You Take" was a slow moving pop song (one of the bands most recognized song) that was lyrically about stalking someone (it is often misinterpreted as a love song). "King of Pain" another single from the album, was another dark pop song in the vein of "Every Breath You Take" with strong lyrical images,and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" was a light sounding pop song with mystical sounding keyboards. The album also contained another song written by Summers "Mother" (he also sings the track), and "Miss Gradenko" a two minute rock song written by Stewart Copeland. The album also contained the songs "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in My Footsteps" two songs drawing world almost tribal music sounding influences.

After touring and big success from Synchronicity The Police were essentially over. In 1986, the band would perform three concerts for a benefit for Amnesty International, then they just stopped. Sting would pursue a solo career, but the band would reunite briefly on a few occasion's. In 1992, when Sting got married The Police played at the reception. In 2003, when the band got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the band reunited for three songs. They never reformed officially until 2007. In a surprise move the band reunited as part of the 30th anniversary of the band. On July 17th, 2007 I was fortunate to see the Police perform to a sold out crowd at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The band sounded great, like they never stopped playing. After two world reunion tours, The Police announced that after their second reunion tour they would break up for good. The band released a collectors DVD/CD set of a concert they did in Buenos, Aires on November 11th, 2008. The set will also include a documentary filmed by Stewart Copeland's son, Jordan.

Here's the songs that were played:

1. Magazine – because you’re frightened (bbc)
2. The Diodes – no right to make me bleed
3. U2 – city at night
4. Nervebreakers – politics
5. Randoms – abcd
6. Braineaters – rock rock
7. Forgotten Rebels – Rhonda Barrett
8. The Statics – rebel like me
9. Teenage Head – lets go to Hawaii
10. Roxy Music – all I want is you
11. Only Ones – lovers of today
12. Wire – outdoor minor
13. Devo – love without anger
14. Talking Heads - these boots were made for walking/I walk the line
15. Talking Heads - thank you for sending me an angel
16. Klark Kent – ritch in a ditch
17. The Police – hole in my life
18. Public Image Limited – chant
19. Gang of Four – 5:45
20. The Visitors – euro girls
21. Hot, Hot, Heat – wait a second (demo)
22. Pointed Sticks – the witch
23. Fiction Plane – running the country
24. Arctic Monkeys – what if you were right the first time?
25. Franz Ferdinand – outsiders
26. Dead 60s – train to nowhere

Some videos:

Can't Stand Losing You & Next To You (OGWT 1978)
The Bed's Too Big Without You (Live 1979)
Can't Stand Losing You Video (1978)
Roxanne Video (1978)
Synchronicity II Video

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