The Police

Almost universally appealing, The Police had not only the pop chops to become a worldwide phenomenon but also enough musical aggression to grab rock diehards. The Police were pretend punks, slimline new wavers, accomplished musos, adult contemporary romantics, world music appropriators, and art-rock observers all rolled into a photogenic fighting match. Their flame burned very brightly and extinguished itself long before rot could set.

Sting: the ex-jazzer with the solid bass, unique voice, and golden pen. Stewart Copeland: the maelstrom of energy and drive who started the band and whose drumming is justly legendary. Andy Summers: the seen-it-all guitar vet who brought the band a harmonic and textural sophistication that was its crowning (if often unrecognized) touch. A triangle of volatile creativity. Their five studio records remain touchstones.

Outlandos d’Amour
1978 / A&M

The skeleton. The two most popular songs here are probably the best: “Roxanne”, with its minor-key tunefulness, and “Can’t Stand Losing You”, an adolescent rocker. Both tracks dance around reggae in the verses and barrel into straight 4/4 for the choruses. Apart from those two, there’s another reggae-rocker (“So Lonely”), a reggae-jazzer (“Hole in My Life”), and a couple of nods to the punk vibe (“Peanuts”, “Truth Hits Everybody”) that the Police adopted under false pretenses. “Next to You” has spartan energy as well, although it’s also got a fat slide solo that confounds the alternative labels in one fretboard swoop.

The most straightforward rock tune, “Born in the 50s”, happens to be the album’s dullest. It may have helped pad out early setlists but there’s nothing special about it. After that come the two weirdest tracks. “Be My Girl - Sally” wedges a Summers monologue about a blowup doll (it’s only funny once) between driving rock refrains, and “Masoko Tanga” is a funky instrumental with nonsense vocals in which Sting stacks up a number of pithy bass riffs. “Masoko Tanga” might be my favorite of the disc, just because of the groove and kaleidoscope atmosphere.

Despite the fact that the band was already unique, the debut album is a little flat and foursquare, recorded on the cheap without many niceties in the arrangements. Relatively (and artistically) speaking, it’s their weakest effort. Nevertheless it delivers a rocking good time, and the pillars of “Roxanne” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” can’t be toppled. There are little moments elsewhere to savor, like Andy’s inventive comping in “So Lonely” and Stewart’s edgy drumming throughout, even though this is far from his most impressive work. Sting’s voice is in a high, whiny phase, except when he goes for punk gruffness; in either case, he’s hardly the sensitive romantic intellectual yet.

Regatta de Blanc
1979 / A&M

A major advance all the way around. Any questionable holes in the debut (“do they have anything besides energy and a few hooks?”) are filled by Sting’s growth as a songwriter (slight but just enough), Copeland’s dazzling stickwork, and a broadening of Summers’ role. This is the album where the Police figured out their own language - the arrangements have a specialized finesse - and even though it was a rushed effort (like all of their first three records), it completely validated the band and set them apart.

In LP terms, the first side ranks with anything they ever cut. The classic “Message in a Bottle” stands out most, as it’s the quintessential Police song and everyone’s contribution is etched in stone. The instrumental title track is a three-part fragment that was usually inserted into live performances of “Can’t Stand Losing You”; Andy’s harmonic webs, Stewart’s rim click beats, and the driving finale are all as cool as can be. “It’s Alright For You” returns to the faux-punk vibe with music by Copeland, albeit with another slide solo (!) in the middle and more Summers arpeggios/textures at the end. “Bring on the Night” includes a quasi-classical guitar part in the verses and the band’s most convincing reggae groove yet in the chorus. (Like “Message”, “Bring on the Night” flips the formula of the first album’s songs - a rock beat for the verses and reggae for the choruses. Maybe that indicates increased confidence with the foreign rhythms?) The Bo Diddley hypnotism of “Deathwish” might be somewhat repetitive and empty, but that seems to be the point.

The second half gets a little wacky due to Copeland contributing three songs. He offers “something corny” in “On Any Other Day” (fadeout punchline: it’s his birthday) and mixes an adolescent lyric with a nifty piano chord sequence in “Does Everyone Stare”, a song no one ever mentions but I happen to like it a lot. The grandelinquent “Contact” is basically rendered in full by Copeland’s alter ego Klark Kent, with a dominant-seventh hook and distinctive bass part that typifies Copeland’s writing style. (When he’s not trying to be Mr. Cool Punk, Copeland is actually a very good composer; he went on to do several film and TV scores.) The second side also has some prime Sting, including the spacious “Walking on the Moon” (where Summers and Copeland expand the simplest of song structures) and “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”, another credible reggae effort. There isn’t much to say about Sting’s vocals so far, because the melodies rarely stand out and the lyrics aren’t noteworthy, “Message” excepted. Sting may have had a big onstage personality but his recorded vocals at this point are hardly personable, almost as if he’s filling the bare requirements of rock singer and not really wanting to draw attention to himself. (How that would change.) In “Bring on the Night” and “Moon” and “Bed’s Too Big”, he sounds like he’s singing from very far away, emotionally and physically. And in “No Time This Time”, over the high-octane belligerence of the backing track, his voice takes on an alien timbre.

Sticking with the vinyl analogy, I say that Regatta plays like a big single 45 - the ace work graces the A-side and the character pieces sit on the B-side. All together, I’d stamp it the band’s most essential album.

Zenyatta Mondatta
1980 / A&M

Now this one’s my personal favorite. The most-levied criticism is that it’s uneven and half-baked, again the result of not staying in the studio longer than necessary. I agree that Zenyatta is uneven and top heavy (three excellent songs up front are followed by a mishmash the rest of the way), but the band’s musicality takes up the slack, and I think that’s why I like it so much. Andy Summers blossoms as a textural player, from the warbly rhythmic parts to the new Roland guitar synth that graces a couple of tracks. The reggae influence starts to recede, replaced by (or re-bred within) the trio’s homegrown sound.

The 1-2-3 punch starts with “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, a hooky depiction of teacher-lolita temptation. The track is so perfect and so definitive of the Police at their pop best that I often forget it even exists, if that makes any sense. (Overexposure?) Special touches include the studio-ambience beginning and the cloudy guitar synth solo. Then comes “Driven to Tears”, a somewhat awkward social awakening for Sting, whose previous songs were self-centered. I don’t think being privy to the fact that some people in the world are starving stopped Sting from focusing on groupies and mountains of coke, but so what. The music is good, and Summers elevates the chord changes with his voicings and colorful, modulated sound. (I’ll try not to repeat myself, but that’s what Summers does with almost everything Sting brings in.) His shimmering guitar saves “When The World Is Running Down” from complete three-chord monotony; it suggests a bright-skied world outside as Sting reverts to self-observation in the lyric.

The rest of the album is such that you don’t quite know what you’re going to get next. It might be a peppy pop rocker (“Canary in a Coalmine” or “Bombs Away”), it might be a vague instrumental (Summers’ dark “Behind My Camel” or Copeland’s geometric “Other Way of Stopping”), or it might be the paranoia of “Shadows in the Rain”, where fears and phantasms twist in a slow motion nightmare. Sting’s “De Do Do Do” is lyrically sophomoric and intentionally banal in the chorus, but it’s well crafted and one of Summers’ most definitive Police tracks - listen to the way he layers all those guitars. Copeland comes forth on the minimalist jam “Voices Inside My Head”, which is really nothing more than a nice bassline and the title refrain repeated a few times, and so the drums have license to play around the groove. The only track I’ve never been sold on is “Man in a Suitcase”, one of Sting’s weakest scripts and a not very exciting attempt at ska-like briskness. (A vibe that “Canary” happens to capture quite easily.)

Most all of the above is colorful and fun to my ears, but I can understand how the more pop-hungry of the band’s fans might be disappointed at how artistic focus ebbs and flows. Zenyatta is in some ways the least consistently “entertaining” Police album in that only half the tracks have something specific to say. Yet it’s in the stranger tracks that musical personality comes to the rescue, and I’m all for just exploring atmosphere, as in “Voices”, “Camel”, or “Shadows”. It’s funny that this album was hoped to sit the Police “on top of the world” commercially, with management and the label monitoring the recording progress, and yet a fair portion of the final result has nothing to do with pop confection.

Ghost in the Machine
1981 / A&M

The professionalism is stepped up a notch and the band’s sound palette continues to expand with some Sting-blown sax and a number of keyboards (not to be confused with Andy’s ongoing guitar synth work). For a long time, I thought Ghost was their masterpiece, and I’m still not convinced it isn’t, but anyway, I came across some semi-negative opinions over the years that took me by surprise. Slickness and repetitiveness seemed to be the main charges. Well, the slickness is just an illusion after hooking up with engineer Hugh Padgham and taking a fair amount of time in the studio (it’s not a slick album by anyone else’s standard), while the repetition is indeed part of the music, but I’ll get to that.

Like Zenyatta, Ghost begins with three of the band’s very best tracks. First is “Spirits in the Material World”, a compact package of choppy chords, a neat chorus riff, and dark vocal intonations. Second is the glorious pop expanse of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, heavy on the piano and synth but with a countermeasure of grooving bass and drums in the chorus. Third is “Invisible Sun”, the most serious (somber) sounding Police song to date, with a lyric that neither whines nor preaches. “Sun” is about hope in dire times, and what makes the vocal work is Sting’s weary, eerie, deadpan delivery. Is the sun/messiah/silver lining going to sustain us or not? When he sings “there has to be an invisible sun”, is it a statement of wishing, or confidence? Neither the singer nor the music provide an answer, only the minor-third sway of continuing crisis. Dramatic and effective, that.

Masterworks out of the way, the band spends the rest of the album playing several jams that are Policed up and partitioned via vocal verses into songs. “Hungry For You”, “Demolition Man”, “Too Much Information”, “One World”, and Copeland’s moody “Darkness” are based on simple riffs or vamps that repeat endlessly under vocals that give them shape. “Demolition Man” is quite catchy and hard to beat as an extended display of stamina (although the guitar solo goes on a little too long), and the self-perpetuating frenzy of “Too Much Information” totally fits the lyric’s complaint of mental saturation. (If Sting only knew in 1981 how much his song would apply to the Internet!) Sometimes there are diversions from the monotony, as when Copeland dismantles the steady reggae groove of “One World” with a drum breakdown and reassembly (in the final minute or so) that represents maybe his most awesome moment on record. Copeland’s got another tune here, too, the perky “Rehumanize Yourself”, with lyrics from Sting, who can’t resist some Marxist illogic in his social commentary.

Mr. Summers earns the MVP award for couple of other tracks. “Omegaman” is one of those weird Andy songs that tries to be a straight rocker but can’t help going left field, and over time I’ve grown very fond of it. In Sting’s “Secret Journey”, one hears more classic Andy-isms like guitar-synth soundscapes, an echoing, flanged chord in the verses, and a sneaky, muted riff. In addition, Copeland’s subtle beat placements, the dark to light change from verse to chorus, and the vocal sound all match the somewhat mystical lyric, which makes “Secret Journey” my favorite track on the album.

There’s a lot of density throughout Ghost, and while I won’t call all of the arrangements brilliant, I can’t think of any weak track. (Maybe I could do without “Hungry for You”, but it too is catchy in a dopey way.) Sting, despite bona fide star status at this point, is noticeably robotic in his vocals; there’s the deadpan style in “Invisible Sun” and elsewhere are a lot of double-tracked lead vocals that “unify” their delivery. Either in harmony or unison, the multiple Stings sound, well, do I want to guess that he’s trying to represent a social plurality in some of these songs? Probably not. I’ll go back to the first adjective: the vocals often sound robotic - and jaded, lost, or even twisted, as in the demented braggadocio of “Demolition Man”. It’s not a major point in any case, but I do find it interesting that Sting became so popular around this time without really emoting as a lot of singers do. Although that would change, and Sting would soon write songs that focused on the vocal above all.

Reviewing the scoresheet, Regatta is in my opinion the most essential album (and the most important musical advancement), Zenyatta is my personal favorite (and I’d say half of it is objectively definitive), and Ghost the most accomplished. Despite some repetition, there’s barely anything about Ghost I’d change at all, and I always get a kick out of hearing it.

1983 / A&M

Imagine the Police bustling around in a fenced pen for the first four albums, each member carrying equal weight in one way or another. Synchronicity presents the same visual scenario except that Sting teeters on the edge of the fence, ready to jump at any time. I won’t go so far to say as it’s virtually a Sting solo disc, but it’s close. The difference maker is that he’s written some songs with a capital S this time, songs that don’t spring from or rely upon the band’s sound but rather are self-sufficient texts that anyone could sit at a piano and bring to life. To pick the obvious example, “Every Breath You Take” is superficially defined by Summers’ arpeggiated guitar part, but the song could certainly exist otherwise. Same for “King of Pain” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger”, the two other hits that both have little nuances to tag them as Police tracks, but whose essence could have plopped them on a Sting solo album, had he been making them at the time. Did I say that?

Okay, so parts of Stingchronicity are the Sting Show with Andy and Stewart as specialized sessioneers. Other tracks go back to Sting providing structures for the band to fill in. “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II” are both driving rockers that continue the sophistication of Ghost, but they also have a coldness that either a) was a product of the 80s, or b) signified internal resignation. Am I reading too much into them? Anyway, in both synchronous iterations, Sting spouts a synopsis of whatever Jung work he had just finished reading, Copeland pounds away, and Summers whips out the paintbrush. (What I really like in “Synchronicity II” is the crushing doom of the final chord sequence and the faint, spiraling guitar overdub near the fadeout.) “O My God” is far more slapdash, basically just a bassline jam with a semi-soulful vocal and a sloppy sax ending. “Tea in the Sahara” is the most considered mood piece the band ever did, sort of like taking the backbone out of “Secret Journey” and letting the atmosphere drift where it may. (Plus it’s got the hip reference to Bowles’ Sheltering Sky, a book whose setting is well captured by both “Sahara” and King Crimson’s “Sheltering Sky.”) “Walking in Your Footsteps” is a pseudo-ethnic piece in which Sting ponders the future of the human race in the cold war era - sudden extinction like the dinosaurs and whatnot.

In the middle of all this, Copeland gets in what I think is his best Police song, “Miss Gradenko”, a pert number with a lyric that doesn’t sound like it was written by a teenager. And then there’s “Mother”, Andy’s much-maligned contribution to the album. (“The worst Police song ever!” says, well, just about everybody.) Its Freudian yowling is clearly a response to Sting’s Jungian concerns elsewhere, but notice also that it’s Summers’ guitaristic tip of the hat to Robert Fripp. For one, the main riff runs a Frippian chord shape through a blues structure, and the solo directly cops Fripp’s solo on the Brian Eno track “Golden Hours” from Another Green World. Summers and Fripp had already done a duet album together, so it’s neither surprising nor inappropriate that Andy came up with this semi-veiled homage to a peer. But the vocal is horrendous, I’ll agree. What would have made the piece much more effective would be to have it as an instrumental all the way through but include that final “MotheRRRRRRR!” at the end to scare the hell out of the listener. Can’t forget “Murder By Numbers” either, with jazzy music by Andy and “take a trip on the evil side” lyrics by Sting. This casual track doesn’t really fit the rest of the album but works in its own way.

So I’ve described everything, but putting it all into perspective is tough. I’ve never been hugely fond of Synchronicity as a whole, maybe because those Top 40 songs are a little light, and maybe because the extremes of all the tracks are hard to order into a satisfying listening experience. The first half sounds like it was written and played by four different bands, and the second half is the sappy stuff. Sure, “Every Breath” and “King of Pain” are good songs (and if I’m being generous, “Wrapped Around Your Finger” is good, too), but are they good Police songs? Years later, I still don’t know.

Recorded in Boston 11/79 and Atlanta 11/83
Originally released 1995 A&M

Neither necessary nor amazing, but still fun for devotees. On both discs the band is less than perfect: the Boston gig is wild, loose, and a bit sloppy; the Atlanta show features a few sequenced parts for the new songs, female backup vocalists, and thousands of screaming kiddies, over which the music is rushed. Those of us who were too young to see the Police in the flesh can’t look the gift horse in the mouth, though.

Highlights from the early gig include “Hole in My Life”, the freakout improv in the middle of “Bed’s Too Big”, and the usual climax of “Can’t Stand Losing You” with the “Regatta de Blanc” extension. There’s lots of chugging postpunk too, like “Landlord”, “Fall Out” (both early non-album salvos), and “Truth Hits Everybody”. Sting’s voice isn’t in great shape, but the enthusiasm of the playing tends to make up for it.

If Boston represents the Police as a Rock band, the Synchronicity show catches them as a Pop outfit. Later studio textures are reduced to three-piece primacy (as in “Every Breath” and “Spirits in the Material World”), but I don’t think that mattered to all the girls who just wanted to see blow-dried Sting strutting around in his Dune garb. The rocking “Synchronicities” kick off the set, followed by “Walking in Your Footsteps”, where Andy shines. Then comes a slew of old and new songs, most feeling rather fast (“Don’t Stand”, “De Do Do Do”) or pandering. (“King of Pain” has my pet peeve, the Audience Sing-along. Gack. It’s good otherwise.) “Tea in the Sahara” is an oasis of sensitivity. The homestretch features expected classics. It’s not a bad show at all, but you can hear the band trying to project to a huge venue, and most Police music doesn’t need to be projected so much. The backing vocalists don’t add anything except a glitzy we’re-really-famous-now status.

(As for the separately available Synchronicity concert video, the direction and editing should have earned someone a flogging.)

The B-sides

It’s a shame that the 2002 reissues of the above titles didn’t include any of the trio’s many rewarding B-sides. Neither did a separate B-sides collection emerge, although that would be a great idea. At least for now, one has to go back to the 1993 Message in a Box 4CD set to collect the non-album tracks. These are my favorites:

“Shambelle”: An instrumental guitar quilt by Summers.

“Once Upon a Daydream”: I’m not sure about Sting’s violent lyric, but Andy’s moody music is quite nice. I think it could have fit onto Ghost somewhere.

“Flexible Strategies”: Sure it’s sloppy, but the groove is good.

“Someone to Talk To”: I’m leaning towards Andy’s songs because I think they were unfairly sidelined, and his music is at least as good as Sting’s in most cases. This is a really cool rock-reggae piece slathered in tasty rhythm guitar and Summers’ vocal isn’t too bad.

“I Burn For You”: A simple, evocative Sting work. I’d delete the chanting ending, though.

Copeland the Axe Man

Along with being one of the most recognizable rock drummers ever, Stewart Copeland was also the Police’s anonymous second guitarist, usually contributing a rhythm part to most of his songs that the band recorded. It’s easy to guess why: either his home demo tapes were brought in to the proper sessions for further band overdubbing - and thus, why waste money re-recording the exact same guitar parts - or else Copeland laid down the guide tracks in his free time during actual Police sessions, and again, why bother having Andy re-do the exact same parts? Copeland’s dry, perky guitar sound is easy to pick out; it can be heard in isolation on his alter-ego “Klark Kent” recordings of the same time as the Police, and also on his later ‘80s album The Equalizer and Other Cliff Hangers. Let’s Spot the Strumming Stewart:

“On Any Other Day” - Copeland plays at least one of the rhythm guitar tracks; Andy’s Telecaster can also be heard in the din.

“Contact” - One or both of the major guitar parts (including the banjo-like plucked bit), and perhaps the bass as well. Never heard Sting use an effect like that before.

“Does Everyone Stare” - No guitar, but Stewart does the piano. The opening fragment is a home demo, blended into the clearer studio take.

“It’s Alright For You” - Rhythm guitar track. Andy’s got the secondary rhythm, the slide solo of course, and all the textural parts in the final stretch.

“Bombs Away” - Stewart does the eight-note line that repeats during the verses. Andy’s got the lead parts, obviously. (And listen for his faint second lead guitar in the fade.) The bass part is tricky enough to be Sting.

“The Other Way of Stopping” - Possibly all Copeland, on both guitar and bass, with the chorused, harmonic bits in the final minute or so courtesy of Mr. Summers.

“A Sermon” - Stewart plays the mindless rhythm riffery, Andy’s got the fancy part.

“Rehumanize Yourself” - Sounds like it’s all Andy. No obvious signs of Stewart’s sound.

“Miss Gradenko” - The rippling seventh chord arpeggios are pure Copeland in the compositional sense, but they are rendered far too ‘guitaristically’ for his admittedly meager technique. Most likely all Andy, then, and isn’t that solo nice?

And on these trivial notes, Sting was enough of a little bitch to not play bass on songs he didn’t like. He never endorsed “Behind My Camel” (which ended up garnering a Grammy), so that’s Summers on the low notes. Summers probably also had to do the simple bass tracks for “Mother” and the B-side “Shambelle”, although that’s surely Sting on Andy’s “Someone to Talk To”. As for the various keyboards on the albums, it could be any of the three. Sting does the piano on “Every Breath” and likely did a lot of the other keyboard work on Synchronicity. Stewart probably did the keys for “Darkness”. And so on. Remember too that Summers used the Roland guitar synth often on the last two records.

The Reunion

Certifiable: Live in Buenos Aires
2-DVD/2-CD set, released 11/2008

Against the odds, the Police reunited for a world tour in 2007, and in December of that year, they recorded a couple of nights in Buenos Aires, presented here on two DVDs and CDs. The picture and sound are very good, and the group’s performance is even better. I’m sure there were some clams scattered throughout their lengthy tour, but they really nailed it on these nights – Sting is in strong form on both voice and bass, Stewart Copeland still sounds like no other drummer, and Andy Summers gets plenty of opportunities to let his Fenders rip. Age jokes aside, these guys play with at least as much power as they did when they were younger men.

The setlist includes the expected hit songs, some rendered faithfully (“Message in a Bottle”, “Every Breath You Take”), some with changed keys (“Invisible Sun”, sounding really nice, and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”, sounding sort of weird), and some with different instrumentation than the studio versions (“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, where Summers replaces the original piano part with guitar arpeggios). “Wrapped Around Your Finger” is not a song I typically get excited about, but this arrangement, featuring Copeland on his extensive percussion setup, is gorgeous. There are also some lengthier set pieces from their past, like the segued “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “Regatta De Blanc” (no audience yell-along this time, thankfully) and the climactic extensions of “Roxanne” and “So Lonely”. Along with all those selections, the group tucks into deeper album tracks, like “Hole In My Life” and “Walking In Your Footsteps”. I’d say credit to the group for not just reciting a complete show of radio hits, but then, they made ‘only’ five albums in their time, and people have had decades to become familiar with every single track. I wouldn’t have expected them to roll out “Does Everyone Stare” in various arena-dome-stadiums, but surely the group had no hesitation about including “Truth Hits Everybody”, or “Next To You” (which appears as the rocking finale).

Everything is fun to watch, but my favorite tracks are the ones where they stretch out. “Walking On the Moon” bounces between a straight read and a trance-like jam, and the blend of “Voices Inside My Head” and “When the World Is Running Down”, complete with smoking guitar solo, might be my favorite moment of all. “King of Pain” is another cool feature for Copeland’s percussion arsenal. “Driven To Tears” rocks in no uncertain terms, again with Andy unleashing some demons. My only complaints about some of the new arrangements are that certain parts/refrains are repeated a few times too many (“Truth Hits Everybody” or “Synchronicity II”), and sometimes the key changes (like in “Don’t Stand”) drag the song far away from its original feeling. But seeing the group perform these tunes in any guise is still a treat.

The atmosphere of the show is a little impersonal, given that it was shot in a stadium with a long distance between the stage and most of the audience. Not that I want a bunch of audience shots intruding into a concert film, but there is a certain connection missing that one might otherwise sense in a smaller gig. Regardless, the Police exude enough chemistry by themselves.

The documentary “Better Than Therapy” looks at the reunion from its earliest rehearsals to its first few months on the road. The tour actually extended well into 2008 (and included a few different songs along the way), but we don’t see any of the later footage. (We do unfortunately see the group backstage at Gorestock, where they rehearse the inane idea of having an unnamable guest star fuck up “Message in a Bottle”. It was an event of odd hypocrisies, anyway.) Some of the documentary interviews allude to legendary inter-band tensions, as does some of the rehearsal footage – the part where Stewart stands up for a particular drum fill, no matter if it “confuses the bass-playing element” for a few bars, is hilarious. I would have liked more rehearsal footage because a lot of interesting preparation goes into what sound like simple songs on the surface. Anyway, the group lives up to their reputations to various degrees but always with a little half-smirk of true brotherly love. Another bonus is the photo gallery that includes nice camera shots from Andy Summers. If the guitar thing hadn’t worked out, he could have been a professional photographer, no doubt.

The two CDs contain the audio from the Buenos Aires concerts. They’re loudly mastered, which isn’t too detrimental if you’re jamming to them in your living room or car, but in the headphones, it sure sounds cramped. By the way, when you open the flimsy packaging of this set, you may notice some loose discs. They will click onto their respective holders, if you press them just right.

So there it is/was, the Police back on the beat for a while, revisiting their past and perhaps saying their belated final goodbyes. Part of me wishes they would drop their defenses and do another album together, but just the fact that they sounded tremendous on an unlikely reunion tour is enough.

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