Monday, March 26, 2012
Police 6: Afterwards
After only five albums in as many years, the Police were done. The closest thing to a sixth album came in the form of a single new song on a hits collection. The drastically rearranged “Don’t Stand So Close To Me ‘86” drew howls of protest from fans and critics alike, but we’ve always enjoyed it, and not even in a “so bad it’s good” way. Why the other guys didn’t physically injure Sting while recording this we’ll never know, though apparently Stewart Copeland was waylaid by a broken collarbone, so maybe he did try. But surely they were just as befuddled as to why he felt compelled to change the reference to “that famous book by Nabokov.” The rumor was that Sting wanted to rerecord all of the songs included on Every Breath You Take: The Singles, but considering how long it took to complete the one, it’s just as well. (The album was reissued on CD ten years later with both versions, a new cover, and The Singles changed to The Classics. Further hits collections have surfaced, one of which combined Police hits with Sting solo tracks and a pointless remix by the individual then known as Puff Daddy.)
Sting had decided he was fine without the other guys anyway, and the success of his solo career seemed to confirm that. Their label, however, continued to reap the benefits of the catalog, taking the bold step of compiling all five albums and extraneous tracks into a four-CD set called Message In A Box: The Complete Recordings. A few foreign-language and live tracks were missing, so it wasn’t necessarily complete, but it did include “I Burn For You” and a couple of less appealing cuts from the Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack. Also, it wasn’t in a box, but a book-style digipack.
A wise move came with Live!, which offered a 1979 radio broadcast on one disc, and selections from a 1983 concert (previously available on VHS) on the other. Only a few songs were repeated between the shows, and understandably, there’s more energy on the earlier theater performance than the later arena show with backup singers. (As a historical footnote, hell froze over in 2007, and the trio reunited for a world tour, which was commemorated with a CD/DVD combo. Since then, they’ve gone their separate ways again.)
The Police Every Breath You Take: The Singles (1986)—4
1995 The Classics version: same as 1986, plus 2 extra tracks
The Police Message In A Box: The Complete Recordings (1993)—3½