KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – THE POLICE “OUTLANDOS D’AMOUR”

The Police only released five albums during their relatively brief recording career, and every one of them is unique and essential. Each record has hit singles, FM radio staples and deep album cuts, many as good as their better known songs. They’re one of the all-time great rock & roll trios and their 1978 debut, Outlandos d’Amour, captures the sound of three guys bashing away in a small studio, eager to take over the world (which they would do within a couple of years). Stewart Copeland has been one of my drumming heroes for a very long time (which I wrote about in my first You Rip, You Shred post), and it all started with this record. Of course great drumming wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t paired with great songs and musicianship, courtesy of Sting & Andy Summers.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 4:

For about five years between 1979 and 1984 there were few bands I listened to more frequently than The Police. I still love their records but they haven’t been in heavy rotation for quite some time, which explains why it’s taken until the 4th post in this series to finally shine a light on their amazing debut album. The trio of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland created a sound that was instantly identifiable and resembled no one else. Combining Copeland’s reggae-influenced drumming (which inspired me and just about every other drummer of my generation), Summers’ quirky, slightly off-kilter guitar work and Sting’s sparse-but-powerful bass lines & impossibly high vocals, they introduced themselves to the world with instant classics like “Roxanne,” “So Lonely” and “Can’t Stand Losing You,” all of which still receive airplay nearly 40 years later. However, a great album needs more than just three killer songs, and it’s the lesser-known but equally powerful tracks that make Outlandos d’Amour so special. “Truth Hits Everybody” and album opener “Next To You” were set-list staples in my high school and college bands, “Hole In My Life” is bouncy reggae fun and “Born In The ‘50s” has a steady loping beat and a killer sing-along chorus, a common feature throughout the album. They would go on to expand their sound over the course of four more albums, but they emerged fully formed with their excellent debut release.

 

If you’re a Police fan, are you “full catalog” with them or is a compilation sufficient for you? If you’ve got them all, which is your favorite? I can’t pick a favorite as I love each of them equally.

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36 comments on “Satur-debut – THE POLICE “OUTLANDOS D’AMOUR”

  1. christiansmusicmusings
    August 10, 2019

    I’m fully with you, here. The Police were one of the most compelling trios I know. This debut is full of raw energy.

    I also like Sting as a bassist and songwriter, including his solo work, especially earlier albums.

    Like

    • “Raw energy” is a great way to describe this album, Christian. They sound like three guys in a room, which I don’t think was the case with any of their subsequent albums. I also really liked Sting’s early albums. Once he got to Mercury Falling I really lost interest but he had a good run before that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        August 11, 2019

        When it comes to Sting’s solo albums, it’s pretty much the same in my case.

        “Ten Summoner’s Tales” is a true gem, in my opinion. By comparison, “Mercury Falling” is lacking.

        I also think his rock-oriented 2016 album “57th & 9th” was not a bad effort.

        Like

      • I think I’ve checked out a few things he’s released since Mercury Falling and they’ve always left me disinterested. With so many other great things to discover (and re-discover), I’ve decided I have very little patience for albums that are “not a bad effort,” so I doubt I’ll need to check out that recent album of his. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 80smetalman
    August 10, 2019

    I heard of them right before I went into the service so it took awhile before I got around to listening to them. I was impressed when I did.

    Like

  3. deKE
    August 10, 2019

    Cheers Rich! Great Stuff! In High School, Synchronicity was everywhere that year! When they released the Greatest Hits set in 1986 and said they were done that baffled me as I knew of no bands at that time that packed it in when they were huge!
    I had the debut and Outlandos on a cassette tape that featured each album per side. Synchronicity I bought on vinyl back then.

    Lately, though I have been picking up their stuff when I come across it on vinyl. I have Outlandos/Ghost In The Machine and Synchronicity so it’s getting there!

    Like

    • You’re making good progress in collecting their discography, already at 60%. If you like what you have so far I’m sure you will be equally enthusiastic about Regatta de Blanc and Zenyatta Mondatta. Is your copy of Synchronicity on virgin vinyl? I’m pretty sure all of the original pressings were. You wouldn’t notice it unless you held it up to the light, where you could see through it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • deKE
        August 11, 2019

        I’ll have to check that out, Rich! I have no idea but I will let you know!

        Like

  4. Bill P
    August 11, 2019

    When the Police reissued their catalog in digipak in 2003, I think I got Outlandos, Ghost, and Synchronicity. For some reason, I never got Regatta nor Zenyatta. I remember really being impressed by Outlandos and some of the other lesser known tracks. This one is really punk and you still hear the reggae influence as you said. I was listening to a lot of the Clash at the time and they really have a lot of the same DNA.

    I absolutely love, love, love “Next to You” as a starting track. Lots of energy and really makes a statement. In fact, the first side has a lot of urgency. One thing that struck me about your original GOotG comments was calling the beat of “Born in the 50s” as loping. I really couldn’t think of how to describe it any better. It seems like a rocker but the feel almost seems to lope along, not quite plod, but maybe it is just the short punctuation of “We…were. born….” It is slower and less frenzied than “Peanuts”, “So Lonely”, etc but it doesn’t detract.

    So are the deep tracks on Regatta or Zenyatta worth exploring?

    Like

    • Thanks, Bill. I’m glad you agreed with my “loping” assessment of “Born In The 50s.” Copeland is such an amazing drummer who can play just about any style. He does what’s right for each song. I never got any of those digipak remasters because I had the original ’80s/’early-’90s CD pressings (which replaced the LP collection I had since the early ’80s) as well as the Message In A Box box set, which had every album & b-side and rare tracks all remastered. In the past year they released high-quality vinyl remasters (with a disc of rarities) and that set will be coming out on CD soon. I’m quite happy with the CDs I already own, which sound great.

      I absolutely think the deep tracks on those albums are worth hearing. On Regatta de Blanc those are “It’s Alright For You,” “Contact,” “Bring On The Night” and Copeland’s “On Any Other Day.” Not sure if my favorite song, “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” is considered a deep cut, but it’s certainly essential Police. On Zenyatta Mondatta my favorite deep cuts are “Canary In A Coalmine,” “Man In A Suitcase,” “Voices Inside My Head” and Copeland’s “Bombs Away.”

      Like

      • Bill P
        August 25, 2019

        Rich,

        So I was in my local record store today and found a copy of Zenyatta Mondatta. Based on your recommendations, I picked it up. Just listening to it right now. “Driven to Tears” and “When the World…..” are both great tracks that I was unfamiliar with. “Canary in a Coalmine” is currently playing.

        The thing that has so far hit me is that it (along with the other 3 albums I have as above) all seem so coherent in terms of overall sound. Some artists have one great single and then the other material has either a different vibe altogether or the songs just merge together in an anonymous mush. These all deliver a consistent sound but each song seems to have its own distinct voice within the greater body of work. It is truly an album you can listen to start to finish and you will have the same overall feel (okay, excepting Miss Gradenko….sorry but that is a bit too much “art rock” for me and I never got into it. I find it a bit grating.)

        Guess I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for Regatta de Blanc and complete the discography!

        Like

      • Bill P
        August 25, 2019

        Oops…it wasn’t “Miss Gradenko”, it was “Mother” that I can’t stand.

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      • Bill, I’m really glad you’re enjoying Zenyatta Mondatta, and I completely agree with your comment about how coherent all of their albums are. They’re designed to be played top-to-bottom even though they’re not concept albums. I know what you mean about “Mother,” but when you consider that Andy Summers purposely chose to include that song to piss Sting off (or so I’ve read), it makes you appreciate its lunacy. I’m pleased to know you don’t dislike “Miss Gradenko,” which was always one of my favorites on that album.

        Like

  5. Aphoristical
    August 11, 2019

    I know we’ve had this conversation before, but starting with the 16 track Greatest Hits and moving back to the albums, the albums were a little disappointing for me. They’re such a good singles band that the albums are disappointing in comparison. Having said that, Zenyatta Mondatta was solid, and I’ve never heard Regatta De Blanc. The 1992 Greatest Hits includes the entire second side on Synchronicity in order too.

    I feel like Sting’s not a prolific writer – I prefer his first few solo albums, where he’s only releasing a record every two or three years. Right now I have the Police Greatest Hits and Sting’s first five solo albums, and I think it’s a stronger portfolio than the other way around. Sting’s best stuff is the Police singles though – songs like ‘So Lonely’, ‘Message in a Bottle’, and ‘Invisible Sun’ are amazing.

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    • Aphoristical
      August 11, 2019

      Also, I read this on Wikipedia: ” “Peanuts,” a composition written by Stewart Copeland and Sting about Rod Stewart. The lyrics were meant as an expression of disappointment on Sting’s part towards his former idol, of whom he said: “I used to be a great fan of his (Rod Stewart) but something happened to him. I hope I don’t end up like that.””

      Like

      • Thanks for sharing that tidbit, Graham. I had no idea it was about Rod Stewart. I love the irony of Sting & Stewart recording that awful song with Bryan Adams from the Three Musketeers soundtrack. Sorry Sting, you DID end up like that. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 11, 2019

        It also said that he acknowledged that.

        Like

      • At least he’s somewhat self-aware. That’s better than self-absorbed, which he always appeared to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 11, 2019

        He’s just an unusual personality for a rock star, I think – tends to overthink things. Not many songs about sex and puppy love.

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      • True, he is a unique rocker. Looking back, some of his lyrics that seemed profound when I was younger now come across as a bit clunky, but at least he tried something different.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 13, 2019

        Their logic ties me up and rapes me….

        Like

      • “Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • I really think this is a generational thing. I realize you’re not a full generation younger than me, but I was in high school during The Police’s heyday and you came to them years after they had disbanded, so our perspectives will naturally be different. For me there are just as many classic album tracks as there are hit singles & rock radio staples. I just looked at the track listing for that 16-track compilation you own, and there’s an alternate best-of just waiting to be created that would be every bit as impressive as the greatest hits. Here are some songs that I would include. I implore you to check them out if you’re unfamiliar: “Next To You,” “Truth Hits Everybody,” “It’s Alright For You,” “Contact,” “Driven To Tears,” “When The World Is Running Down…,” “Canary In A Coalmine,” “Voices Inside My Head,” “Secret Journey,” “Too Much Information,” “Rehumanize Yourself,” “O My God,” “Murder By Numbers” and “I Burn For You.” That’s 14 killer songs and doesn’t even include some of Stewart Copeland’s quirky yet awesome songs like “On Any Other Day” and “Miss Gradenko.”

      Like

      • Aphoristical
        August 11, 2019

        I’ve heard four out of five albums – owned three and borrowed Ghost from a friend. I might come back and revisit their catalogue and see if I’ve changed my mind in the last 15 years. I do think different bands have different strengths – The Jam from the same era don’t have so many amazing singles, but have really great albums like All Mod Cons and Sound Affects.

        Like

      • I think all of those albums would grow on you after a few listens. They are packed with classics and should-have-been classics. They certainly hold up a lot better than many of Sting’s solo albums. Have you ever heard Copeland’s album as “Klark Kent” from 1980? He sings & plays every instrument and it’s really great.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 13, 2019

        I have listened to most of them a lot – I owned them when I had a relatively modest CD collection so they got a lot of airtime.

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      • Well then I guess we’ll just agree to disagree about the strength of The Police’s catalog. You youngsters have a lot to learn. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 26, 2019

        OK – I’ve loaded Regatta de Blanc up on Spotify. It’s good so far – ‘It’s Alright For You’ is Greatest Hits worthy.

        Like

      • That’s great. Hopefully you find a few more keepers on that record.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 28, 2019

        I think it’s probably my favourite – having some Copeland songs in there to mix it up helps.

        Like

  6. stephen1001
    August 12, 2019

    To borrow a KamerTunes series, The Police are a catalogue rather than compilation artist for me!
    I find my enjoyment of the albums is a bit like a parabola, where the peaks are at #1 & #5 and it dips a bit in the middle. But only a bit!

    Like

    • Parabola? Is that some kind of virus? Haha. Obviously I don’t agree about the dips in the middle, as all of their albums are equally solid, but I can see why Outlandos… and Synchronicity might have made more of an impact on you than the others. Glad you found something to love on all of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Alyson
    August 17, 2019

    Interesting to read the comments boxes above – Sting has always come across as being a bit of a thinker, an over-thinker, which I know puts a lot of people off. Interesting also to hear that snippet about the Rod Stewart song, yet he sang on the Three Musketeers theme. It seems that even though they do great work and champion worthy causes, we still would rather our rock stars stay true to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and headspace – Very wrong of us I know.

    I only had Police singles I’m afraid and have never owned an album but love the titles – Other than Ghost they all seem to make great use of language.

    Over at my place I think I’ve mentioned Sting twice, once when I wrote about New York (An Englishman In New York) and once when I wrote about the theme to the Thomas Crown Affair as he recorded a great cover (Windmills of Your Mind). Whatever my thoughts of the man himself I do still love his singing voice.

    Incidentally, Many, many years ago we were in the restaurant of a large metropolitan museum (can’t remember which one now) and there was Sting with several South American tribesman all sporting those plates in their bottom lip – I hope his work with such peoples did help their plight, but I have an awful feeling it might have been like trying to turn back the tide.

    Like

    • Hi Alyson. Thanks so much for your (as always) thoughtful and well-thought-out comments. Very true regarding our expectations about our favorite rock stars. It’s always nice to see them championing their favorite causes but we don’t want them to preach to us. I’ve seen Sting several times, twice with The Police and then a few more times as a solo artist. One of those shows was a Walden Woods benefit arranged by Don Henley that also included Billy Joel. If my memory is correct, Sting played nothing but Police songs and covers…none of his solo material. It was a truly crowd-pleasing set and the perfect choice for the setting, rather than promoting his latest album.

      I recall your post about An Englishman In New York, but I’ll have to revisit your site to see if I missed the other Sting-related post. Didn’t realize he had covered that song. I still love his voice. I only wish his current music made me want to listen to it. Instead I go back to the ones I already love. Nothing wrong with that considering his extensive discography.

      Like

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