ALSO: Check out Mike Farley's Deep Cuts playlist for The Police.
Formed at a time when disco ruled the airwaves and rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith were beginning to fade a bit, the Police were a breath of fresh air. While not considered to be a punk band, this British trio combined punk, pop, and rock – as well as a healthy dose of reggae – into a groundbreaking fusion fronted by bassist and lead singer Sting’s high tenor vocals. Virtuosos Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland (younger brother of Miles Copeland III, who founded the late, great IRS Records), on guitar and drums, respectively, complemented Sting’s stellar bass playing. Fortunately, instrumental chops notwithstanding, the Police never lost their undeniable knack for crafting radio-friendly three-minute pop songs.
The band’s debut, Outlandos d’Amour, featured the powerhouse pop single "Roxanne," a song that had heads turning everywhere and wondering, "Who ARE these guys?" But the Police were not a novelty act; the album also featured a second single, "Can’t Stand Losing You," as well as raucous, melodic punk numbers like "Next to You" and "So Lonely."
A low-budget debut gave way to a sophomore effort, Regatta de Blanc, which, while a bit more polished, still adhered to the first album’s songwriting formula. Regatta featured "Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon," both of which reached #1 in the United Kingdom. But again, it was a very deep album, and one that stayed true to the band’s reggae and punk roots with songs like "Bed’s Too Big Without You" and "It’s Alright for You."
By the time album number three, Zenyatta Mondatta, hit the streets, the Police were becoming international superstars. "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" was a single that to this day proves you can put catchy music to ridiculous lyrics and still sell the crap out of it. "Don’t Stand So Close to Me," a story of student/teacher lust that also became a huge single, is another of this album’s standout tracks. But there were many lesser-known gems on the album that never really got their due.
As the Police continued to evolve as a band, their songwriting chops eventually caught up to their musical abilities. The band’s fourth album, Ghost in the Machine, was proof of that, spawning the group’s highest-charting U.S. single to that point, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Each member’s jazz influences came forward on the album, and they also experimented more with keyboards than ever before. Tracks like "Invisible Sun" and "Spirits in the Material World" were more of a look into the future of the band than a rear-view glance.
Then, with the release of their final studio album, Synchronicity, the Police had their first #1 single in the U.S., "Every Breath You Take." To this day, the track is globally (and mistakenly) recognized as a love song, one that has likely changed the lives of many, not the least of which are the band’s three members.
But with more musical experimentation (witness subsequent hits like "King of Pain" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger," as well as the lesser known "Tea in the Sahara") came more dissent. They broke up after a tour in 1984 and, the odd reunion gig notwithstanding, the band never brought up the R-word until 2007, when reports of a 30th-anniversary reunion tour surfaced, soon followed by the announcement that they would play the Grammy Awards.
More on the Police:
TV Guide: The Police
The Police Videos, Interviews and More on TV Guide's Online Video Guide
The band’s Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Police
Sting’s official web site: http://www.sting.com/
Andy Summers’ official web site: http://www.andysummers.com/
Stewart Copeland’s official web site: http://www.stewartcopeland.net/