Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday 8-Track

Well it looks like it is almost a lock that The Police will be embarking on a huge reunion tour. When I was in high school and going through my Classic Rock Phase, I though that these were the coolest things in the world because I could see the bands that I had missed by a generation. As a I got older and my tastes refined, I began realizing how expensive, contrived, and cheesy these shows really were. However The Police have remained at the top of my list of bands I always wished I could see -- along with The Pixies who I finally saw and they absolutely blew me away, and Uncle Tupelo which will probably never happen. This Police tour has the potential to be great (if they decide to really rip into it and get interesting with their set lists) or a positively boring run-through-the-numbers. Either way I will plunk down my $100 to see it just in case I get the former, all the while expecting the latter. So this week's installment is in their honor. Here's hoping for a great show.

"Truth Hits Everybody" - Outlandos d'Amour

So, whenever you hear The Police on the radio it's always the same old thing and you never get a feel for how hard they could hit it (no pun intended). Well here's a good example. I hope they can bring this kind of energy to the tour and not just sit on their vanilla laurels a la the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance.

"Message in a Bottle" - Regatta de Blanc

OK, obvious choice but it has got one of my favorite Stewart Copeland moments. In high school my friends and I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about -- arguing about -- things like who was The Best Drummer. There were the usual suspects like Moon, Bonzo, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell (Steve Gadd and Jeff Porcero if you wanted to be a real obscurantist), and of course Copeland. My buddy and I still joke about a this guy in our school who loudly declared during one of these bull sessions that "You can't even begin to talk about drummers without mentioning Stewart Copeland in the first fucking paragraph!" Indeed. Anyway, I love that shuffling snare and hi-hat fill right before the outro vamp.

"Synchronicity I" and "Synchronicity II" - Live!

These two tracks make a great opening pair for the second disc of this album which is from a 1983 show in Boston. It's not as raw as the '79 show on the first disc and the band is at the top of its game live. In a way it sounds like over time they traded some of that wild energy for an increased level of musicianship but they certainly found a nice balance. I like the way that the frenetic and slightly scattered rhythms of "I" give way to the straight-ahead driving pulse of "II."

"King of Pain" - Synchronicity

This is perhaps my favorite Police tune as I think it is so very well written. There are two major character traits which I associate with Sting; 1) he is a megalomaniacal prick and 2) he is one of the finest songwriters of the last 30 years. Some people just have a gift for melody and lyric and although there is a lot of throwaway shit that he has written over the years, even after that the resume stands strong. The great thing about this song is the way the tension builds from the sparse intro up to the big hit of the first hook -- it just opens up into that beuatiful circular chorus. Another nice aspect is that arrangement-wise, this could have ended up as a pretty and lilting mid-tempo song wihtout any real teeth. But the drive is also there with the thumping 8th-notes on the bass and those tight snare snaps. All-in-all it makes for a great song that I have heard thousands of times and never grow tired of.

"Walking on the Moon" - Regatta de Blanc

Personalities may clash but there are some musicians that are just meant to play together. "Walking on the Moon" is one of the best examples of how well the individula members' talents melded together; Sting's voice and songcraft, Stewart Copeland's tight syncopated grooves, and Andy Summers. Summers probably gets the least amount of credit for his contributions but this guy could play, and so tastefully. On the live disc, you can hear how flexible he is on a track like "Can't Stand Losing You" but here it's very laid back and just right. I always liked Andy because he was a Telecaster man and his signature delayed, chorus-drenched tone still does not sound dated like so many other players from that era.

"Spirits in the Material World" - Ghost in the Machine

This track has dark vibe to it with a looping sort of "up-down" beat. It's got those syncopated reggae rhythms that really influenced the band but with their own pop spin to it. Definitely one of those songs to put on at the end of the night as you sink into your intoxicated haze before punching out.

"So Lonely" - Live!

This appears on both the '79 (disc 1) and '83 (disc 2) shows and is another good example of the contrasts from when they were starting out and when the band was the biggest thing in the world (and in only 4 short years). I love this song and have always wanted to play it live, especially at the raucous tempo from the '79 show. Dynamic contrast is so important in a good song and this one's got it in spades. The verses are mid-tempo and again have that syncopated reggae beat, but in the chorus the tempo feels like it doubles (not quite) and rips into a driving 4/4. The fact that the song does this again and again until it just explodes on the outro (for the live version at least) makes for perfect live fodder. Plus, if you're going to sing about having nobodt you might as well rock while you're doing it. "In this theatre that I call my soul. I always play the starring role, so lonely!"


At 2/02/2007 11:45 AM, Blogger Dara said...

Excellent list.

I'm totally with you on the seeing them live bandwagon -- expecting a typical reunion show, but hoping for greatness. But I'm also wondering about just how long it will last before there's a major breakdown. Because if I were Stewart or Andy, I'd occasionally want to kick the crap out of Sting, too.

At 2/05/2007 7:36 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I have thought the same thing as well, but I have to think that the millions upon millions of dollars (or pounds) they each stand to earn would temper a lot of egos.

At 2/05/2007 7:36 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I have thought the same thing as well, but I have to think that the millions upon millions of dollars (or pounds) they each stand to earn would temper a lot of egos.

At 2/05/2007 4:10 PM, Blogger Dara said...

I dunno. They were earning tons of money when they broke up -- and I'm sure they've been offered tons to reunite before -- and yet, the fighting persisted. If they don't kill each other now it's only because they've mellowed due to some new found maturity. Or Sting's yoga.


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