One of the biggest acts of the 1980s was the British reggae-pop-rock band, The Police. With the highly accomplished Sting on bass and lead vocals, Andy Summers on guitar and the well-acclaimed drummer Stewart Copeland, they released a total of five albums during their run. Their last release, “Synchronicity”, was a massive hit, and is rated as album #159 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Side one opens with the frenetic “Synchronicity I”, a high-paced driver that was probably a great track heard live. Things mellow out a bit with “Walking In Your Footsteps” and “O My God”, but the musicality and vibe remain very strong. Next we have another example of where it doesn’t always pay off to have another artist take over the lead vocals. Andy Summers wrote and sung “Mother”, and if nothing else, it makes me appreciate when Sting grabs the lead vocals back on the Copeland track, “Miss Gradenko”. Side one ends with the frenzied book-end of “Synchronicity II”, another rocker that is one of the many major hits of this record, and one of my favorites.
For all of the hits on this record, none was bigger than “Every Breath You Take”, which opens side two. At first, it seems and sounds like a love song of deep devotion, until you listen more closely and realize it crosses the line into obsession and stalking. A lovely song otherwise, I must say. The hits keep coming with “King of Pain”, a soft and warm ballad that belies the title. Perhaps the most mystical of tracks on the album, we have another hit ballad, “Wrapped Around Your Finger”. This record really is loaded with great songs. “Tea In The Sahara” is an odd little track, a bit more progressive in sound, with the same alluring Sting vocal that pulls it together, and the album ends with the funky, yet soft groove of “Murder By Numbers”, which really puts a great capstone on the impressive career of The Police. All three members really shine on this song, and I think that after a couple of listens, this one stands out above all as my favorite on the entire record.
Sting carried on as one of the most successful artists in modern music, while Copeland and Summers continued to find their niche and place in a less visible manner, but the influence and legacy of The Police stands tall as a not only a hit factory, but a highly competent act who successfully integrated the sounds of reggae into mainstream pop unlike any other band before them.