Giant steps are what you take....
Released October 1979
Recorded at Surrey Sound Studios
After their debut album from the previous year, that was a mix of white reggae and upbeat punky, guitar-riff based rock, The Police were back a year later with more of the same. A bit like The Jam's lead songwriter, Paul Weller, with their second album, "This Is The Modern World", The Police's equivalent was supposed to have been suffering from "writer's block". The group were said to have dug up a few old tracks in desperation, and there are times it is clear too.
1. Message In A Bottle
2. Regatta De Blance
3. It's Alright For You
4. Bring On The Night
6. Walking On The Moon
7. On Any Other Day
8. The Bed's Too Big Without You
10. Does Everyone Stare
11. No Time This Time
The album gets off to a good start, however. The massive hit single, "Message In A Bottle" had tinges of reggae behind a driving rock beat and an instantly recognisable introductory riff. "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, anyone? The chorus parts had inflections of dub reggae. Everything was pretty perfect about this track. No arguments there. The title track was an instrumental piece of evidence of scraping of the barrel for tracks, nevertheless it was an upbeat, lively full-on rock instrumental and doesn't sit badly on the album. "It's Alright For You" is a punk-ish average sort of throwaway rock song, nothing special though. Nowhere near the quality of "Message In A Bottle", however. "Bring On The Night" is another kettle of fish. It is an excellent track. Apparently this was an old song from Sting's days with a previous band, "Last Exit". It is a slice of reggae with a bit of West African-style guitar and a convincing vocal from Sting. It is probably their finest non-single song from the early albums. "Deathwish" had a Jam-esque guitar intro, before launching into a familiar Police riff before Sting's plaintive vocal kicks in. It is not a bad effort at all. Some rock parts and some reggae bits too. The old 'side one" had not been as bad as maybe the band had thought it was going to be. Only one average cut on there, so far.
The old "side two" starts with "Walking On The Moon", a big chart hit. It was a staccato, sparsely backed piece of reggae that for whatever reason, really caught on with the single-buying public and became their second number one after "Message In A Bottle". It was very atmospheric, with that bass, cymbal, lead guitar chops and drum rim backing. Sting's haunting vocal was a great selling point too. The alluring "This Bed's Too Big Without You" was, along with "Walking On The Moon", probably the band's most authentic, credible slice of reggae they have produced so far, but Stewart Copeland's "On Any Other Day" is lightweight, lyrically trite, poorly sung and pretty damn poor, to be honest. It seems this was the point the album's quality fell away.
"Contact" is a bit of reggae-ish rock, with some synthesiser backing and some frantic punky parts. It sounds like a eject from the first album. Again it is certainly nothing special. Not the work of the soon to be "biggest band in the country". "Does Everyone Stare" is also a poor song really. Hints of The Who in there at times. It would appear that drummer Stewart Copeland's material is by far the inferior of Sting's. It was a shame Sting was feeling the pressure to come up with material. Sting's "No Time This Time" (a 'b' side to the previous year's "So Lonely" single), however, was not up to the standard of the other material he wrote for the album.
Some good songs on this album, but some distinctly average contributions too. The Police often remind me of Blondie - superb singles but often patchy albums, unlike The Jam or The Clash.