Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Police - Synchronicity (1983)


  

Released June 1983

Recorded in Montserrat and Quebec

Following on from the rock sound of “Ghost In The Machine”, this, The Police’s final album after five frantic years, followed in the same footsteps (to paraphrase track two on this album). It is a frantic, pulsating rock-ish album on the whole.

“Synchronicity I” gets the album off to a lively, powerful start with its frenetic, busy sound. “Walking In Your Footsteps” has some intoxicating African-sounding percussion and Sting singing in a vaguely Eastern-style at times. It is maybe the most unusual, adventurous song The Police had recorded thus far. It is full of weird noises, cutting guitar stabs and that tribal rhythm. “O My God” is a beguiling, bassy number with an infectious, pulsating funk rock rhythm. There is some excellent dubby guitar on this track too.

Stewart Copeland’s madcap oedipal rant “Mother” is positively dreadful and is best forgotten. It is up there as one of the leading candidates for The Police’s worst-ever song, along with the one about the blow-up doll. It is nigh on unlistenable. “Miss Gradenko” is another Stewart Copeland song, which normally means “oh dear”, as in “Mother”, but actually it is sort of ok. Sort of. Andy Summers contributes a good guitar solo part in the middle.

Now, those two tracks out of the way, the album’s true quality rises once more. “Synchronicity II” is a killer of a track, though, with a great guitar riff and mysterious, atmospheric lyrics. It is of the Police’s best rock tracks. “Every Breath You Take” is known to everyone, of course. It sort of stands alone from the rest of the album, as it is so familiar. I have always found it just a little creepy, lyrically, however.

Now, we get three truly excellent, lesser-mentioned Police songs that show what a quality band they had become. Far removed from that of their first album. “King Of Pain” is superb, with a hauntingly catchy Sting vocal and a solid, rocky backing. The Talking Heads-influenced “Wrapped Around Your Finger” has that band’s quirky rhythmic backing merging with The Police’s trademark guitar-driven reggae sound to produce an excellent track. It features some excellent dubby reggae guitar parts. “Tea In The Sahara” is one of the album’s best tracks, revisiting that old “Walking On The Moon” backbeat and Sting’s vocal taking on that haunting tone that he would use in his solo career from this year onwards. It almost sounds like a Sting solo number. Apparently Sting felt they played the song too fast. Strange, as it is very slow and laid-back.  All great stuff.

"Murder By Numbers", The Police's final track, gave big hints as to Sting's soon to be released first solo album, with its jazzy undertones and his vocal phrasing. For Sting, it was time to move on, but this three-piece band had a great five years.

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