REGATTA DE BLANC
GHOST IN THE MACHINE
ALL UNIVERSAL (ON DUAL-LAYER SA-CD HYBRID)
Sting has been so jeered at, derided and reviled since going solo and amassing a fortune that, like one of the ecosystems to which he has drawn our attention, the global supply of bile is fast in danger of running out.
Sting has certainly become musically turgid and self-important in recent years. Yet none of this should retrospectively obscure the truth that The Police were an excellent band, their excellence either begrudged or taken for granted. Reviled by some for ripping off the punk-reggae hybrid initiated by the likes of The Clash or for bleaching their hair to obscure some dubious credentials, they were nonetheless responsible for some of the most effective, well-informed and silvery pop tunes of their, or indeed any other, era.
Bless old Joe, but when The Clash attempted reggae it was often like they were wearing lead boots. The Police prettily filtered through the lightness of reggae, lending their music a helium quality that elevated it to places their contemporaries could only envy. Meanwhile, they drew from punk its speed and economy. Outlandos d’Amour (1978) showcased hit singles “Roxanne”, “So Lonely” and “Can’t Stand Losing You”, but they peaked with 1979’s Regatta De Blanc, featuring “Message In A Bottle”, a faultless dose of existentialist pop, “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” and “Walking On The Moon”, both of which introduced heart-stopping air bubbles of dub into the pop mainstream.
By the end, Sting’s earnestness was weighing them down as he assumed the mantle of global pop star. But even 1983’s Synchronicity is worth having for “Every Breath You Take”, its obsessive menace misunderstood by Puff Daddy in his still-ubiquitous cover version.