Who could this mystery man with the terrible logo possibly be?
When I was 10, I had a fairly memorable dream. I was at the arcade, which for whatever reason now had a jukebox, and I was flipping through all the CDs and came across an album by The Police that I had not seen before. I remember the cover looking something like Reggatta de Blanc, but palette-shifted. Since The Police were my favorite band at the time (overwhelmingly so, in fact…I rarely listened to anything else) I immediately put all my quarters into the box and played all the songs in order. There were 12 of them; for some reason I can remember that. The first song started playing and…I woke up. So I just laid there, trying to remember the melody of the song, or anything on the tracklisting, then figured if I went back to sleep maybe I could recapture it. Nope. Lost forever in the deep recesses of my mind. Granted, had I stayed asleep, I probably would have found that all 12 songs sounded an awful lot like “Roxanne”. But, still, that’s the kind of dream that excites you as a young kid. An entirely unheard album by your favorite band!? What could be better?
Last week, I got through the first two discs of the Police’s all-inclusive boxset, so now let’s talk about the last two. It’s a good dividing point, separating the Police-as-band era and the Police-as-Sting’s-backing-back era, both of which have their merits, though there does seem to be a lot of vitirol for the latter. Copeland and Summers were every bit as vital to the band’s sound, and if you need proof, just check out Sting’s solo career. In fact, if you listen to Copeland’s album as Klark Kent, you can probably figure out who was really doing all the arrangements, since it very much sounds like a lost Reggatta-era Police album without Sting. But Sting was the guy in front, and more importantly he was writing all the hits. The Police were a great band, but they wouldn’t have amounted to much without “Roxanne”, and then without “Message in a Bottle”, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”, and so on. Funny enough, A&M’s suggested first single for Ghost in the Machine was “Omegaman”, written by Andy Summers, the only song he wrote for the band that was even remotely workable for radio. Sting of course rejected this, most likely throwing a fit and giving an ultimatum. Even if the other members didn’t write a whole lot of songs for Zenyatta, you could tell they at least had a hand in the arrangements and the overall direction of the record.