In the late '60s Andy Summers joined Eric Burdon & The Animals. This unit, which had been in operation since the original Animals disbanded in the mid-60s, was on its last legs. Burdon, the Animals only remaining original member had led this group through a series of hits and misses. Summers played on the "Love Is" album, which featured a version of "River Deep, Mountain High." Shortly thereafter the band disintegrated with Burdon travelling to L.A. in search of acting jobs and eventually falling in with War. Over the next decade Summers kept busy with a stint in the Soft Machine.
At the beginning of '77, ex-school teacher Gordon Sumner a.k.a. Sting (so named for his fondness for a black and yellow stripped jersey he constantly wore) and Stewart Copeland began the Police with guitarist Henri Padovani. By mid-year the Police were producing demos and playing gigs. It was during a club gig that it was suggested Summers play with them. It worked out and Summers joined the band providing the Police with a two-guitar sound. However, Padovani left shortly thereafter and was not replaced. By the end of '78 the band had recorded its debut LP "Outlandos D' Amour." It was followed by "Reggatta De Blanc" and "Zenyatta Mondatta" in '80.
From '82, "Ghost In The Machine," with the infectious reggae driven "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was huge. Even that success paled when compared their next effort "Synchronicity." "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "King of Pain" were major hits but the path was blazed by the LP's first single, the minimalist "Every Breath You Take." Combined with the stark black and white video that dominated MTV, the song was a monster hit. You couldn't escape it. However, the best song on the album was the Rocker "Synchronicity II."
When the band gathered to record a follow-up it was clear things had changed. Sting was far more interested in solo projects and pursuing an acting career. He'd already appeared in "Dune." And you'd think that experience would have killed his acting desire. Except for a benefit concert, that was the end of the Police. Sting went off to a successful, if bland, solo career while Summers and Copeland occupied themselves with various projects.
The Police reunited to perform "Roxanne" at the opening of the 49th Grammy Awards show in L.A. Prior to the '07 Grammys, the last time the Police played in front of an audience was at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in March, '03. The next day the group officially announced reunion tour plans, celebrating their 30th anniversary, with the first show taking place in Vancouver B.C. The tour (and music sales) helped the Police land at #1 on Forbes magazine's list of '07's top musical earners, bringing in more than $140 million in U.S.
The bickering and cutting comments were kept to a minimum, and surprisingly, the biggest snafu revolved around Copeland. He wound up apologizing to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet after her government objected to comments the drummer made about her. Copeland was quoted saying Argentinean president-elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was "good for one beer" while Bachelet was good "for four." He sent a message to Bachelet expressing his regrets and invited her to the Police's concert in Santiago.
With the Police riding high on a major tour it must have seemed like a good time to publish Lyrics By Sting. So Dial Press did just that. The '07 book with the words to over 100 songs included lyrics from the Police-era through Sting's solo career. It also featured his commentary on the stories behind the songs. But a little of the luster was taken off just prior to publication when Sting was named music's worst lyricist by Blender magazine. According to the magazine his lyrics are filled with "mountainous pomposity (and) cloying spirituality."
1978 Outlandos d'Amour
1979 Reggatta de Blanc
1980 Zenyattą Mondatta
1981 Ghost In The Machine
"Synchronicity" is the Police's best selling album. In addition, it was the group's last effort before Sting went solo. "Every Breath You Take" is one of those songs that gets so big it's almost an embarrassing. The album also has "ballad-to-Rockers" with "King of Pain" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger." But "Synchronicity II" is a blaster as Sting spits out the lyrics about people in "shiny metal boxes."
As good as "Synchronicity" is, it's not the Police's most interesting work. They started out as reggae influenced New Wave group. "Zenyatta Mondatta," "Ghost In The Machine" and "Regatta de Blanc" are highly rhythmic and propulsive albums. Get these albums to experience what the Police are all about. "Synchronicity" is more mainstream, so it's not surprising it was so successful.
The Police have many hits ("Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take," "Message In A Bottle," Walking On The Moon" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me) and near hits. Most appear on "Every Breath You Take: The Singles." It's a solid collection but it doesn't have "Synchronicity II," a major omission. Of course, the box set is an option but the best bet to get the original albums.