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The Police Albums Ranked: When Did the Sting-Fronted Power Trio Peak?

The Police Albums Ranked: When Did the Sting-Fronted Power Trio Peak?

The Police’s success, in retrospect, seems like an inevitability. Few groups have more things going for them. They could play, they were riding the wave of a trend and they had a charismatic frontman with a great singing voice. And, with highly ranked albums like “Synchronicity,” they more than fulfilled their early potential before splitting up at the height of their fame.

What made the group so beloved? Well, they cleverly blended punk, pop, classic rock, and reggae. The trio was comprised of musicians with serious chops. And, in Sting they had a highly charismatic frontman and strong singer. It would take a lot to squander this kind of advantage.

That’s why I’m digging up the past, taking a peak back at one of rock’s finest trios, and ranking the albums in The Police’s discography from worst to best.

The Police Albums Ranked

The Police Albums Ranked: When Did the Sting-Fronted Power Trio Peak?

“Synchronicity” (1983)

In retrospect, everything seemed to line up perfectly for The Police. With “Synchronicity,” the band delivered its most mature collection of pop songs and bowed out at the height of their collective fame.

The secret to this might just be that a sense of purpose, once again, trumped exhaustion. The group had toured nearly non-stop since their careers had started. But the band’s playing and Sting’s songwriting had improved consistently.

Another aspect is that the musicians are ever more confident. On “Synchronicity,” they embrace a mysterious, moody sound. They add layers of synths. And their playing never outshines the song.

“Every Breath You Take,” a perfect pop-ditty about obsession and stalking, became Sting and The Police’s biggest song. It helped earn the band multiple Grammy Awards.

“Wrapped Around Your Finger” was a sophisticated pop-rock construction that alluded to Sting’s Faustian bargain.

“King of Pain” and “Walking in Your Footsteps” portray the singer as tragic. Meanwhile, “Synchronicity II” and “Tea in the Sahara” prove that this might just be one of the most cerebral collection of songs to achieve this kind of success.

The Police achieved almost every measure of success in a short spell of time. With Sting anxious to pursue a career on his own terms, the band played their final shows at Shea Stadium.

They’d reunite decades later, but never to make new music. In some ways, this proved to be a blessing, as it helped maintain a near-perfect scoring record.

“Ghost in the Machine” (1981)

The Police carry on their self-imposed tradition of releasing a new album each year. On “Ghost in the Machine,” they are in a dark, reflective mood for an excellent album.

The band does wonderfully weave a tense atmosphere behind Sting’s often tortured lyrics. Stewart and Summer, in particular, could overplay if they wanted to. They never do. Instead, they rely on efficient, minimalist guitar riffs and drum fills.

How confident were they? Well, around this time, the increasingly photo-friendly Sting, would tell reporters he felt that he could succeed in being a musician, a serious composer, or a movie star if he so decided. Indeed, soon, he would try all of those things, usually to considerable success.

It’s a sound that expertly translated to the ever larger live stages on which The Police was playing. In many ways, the band was now the biggest group of the early 1980s.

But songs like “Spirits in the Material World” or “Invisible Sun” reflect a shift in Sting’s work. The songwriter is burdened by his own issues as well as those of the world around him. Many of the lyrics deal with political and inner conflict.

There’s also a shift to more complex musical territory on songs like the excellent “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

Like Peter Gabriel, The Police achieved a rare balancing act during the 1980s. They made complex, demanding art but were richly rewarded for it.

“Outlandos d’Amour” (1978)

The Police nearly missed out on the Punk Revolution. But that worked to their advantage, with their debut “Outlandos d’Amour” being a sophisticated but highly palatable collection of reggae-inspired rock.

All of the things that punk groups like Sex Pistols distrusted about conventional rock, The Police had and were about to master. They had musical ability, charisma, and a desire to score pop hits. And, they hid none of their intentions for “Outlandos d’Amour.”

Of course, the technical prowess is disguised as best as Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland can here. For example, yes, you get choppy guitar chords, But they’re the kind of chords that jazz guitarists might think to use. Instead, the three British musicians they on tightly written songs, exotic grooves, and Sting’s immediately impressive vocals.

“Roxanne,” “Can’t Stand Losing You,” and “So Lonely” prove that Sting could produce hit singles from the get-go.

And, while the punk-tinged “Next to You” and “Born in the 50’s” aren’t as impressive as, say, The Clash or The Jam, from their debut it’s clear that The Police are built for world domination.

The Police Albums Ranked: When Did the Sting-Fronted Power Trio Peak?

“Zenyatta Mondatta” (1980)

The Police continued with their hectic touring and recording schedules. All of the experience they’d accumulated, however, paid off. “Zenyatta Mondatta” is a very well-crafted pop-rock record.

Being in a rush to finish the album and get on with touring commitments actually works in The Police’s favour this time. The three jazz enthusiasts are done hiding their technical flair.

When they’re not playing arena-pop numbers like “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” or cheerful reggae such as “Canary in a Coalmine,” they sound like a tiny jazz combo playing in a smokey bar.

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” a Nabokov-styled song about the relationship between a teacher and student, is the album’s highlight. It helped end any debate about Sting’s ability to write a great pop song and helped turn their group into even bigger stars on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Reggatta de Blanc” (1979)

“Reggatta de Blanc” sees The Police continue to chase success on the back of a reggae-infused rock sound. But, this time around, the song collection is less consistent. Blame it on what would soon begin a cycle of endless touring scheduled by their manager, Miles Copeland.

The Police may have appeared to be a new band. And, indeed, for casual music fans, the band did serve as a natural bridge between the harshness of punk and the quirkiness of new wave.

But, in fact, the three musicians had all spent much time honing their skills and working toward success. With fame firmly in their sights, they use “Reggatta de Blanc,” loosely translated as “White Reggae,” to benefit their careers.

The good news is that two of the singles are still killer material. “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon” are definitory of the band’s sound.

The band news is that many of the rest of the songs sound like improvised pieces containing little of the energy of “Outlandos d’Amour.” But things would soon be looking up for the British group.

About author

Eduard Banulescu is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications, including FootballCoin, Play2Earn, BeIN Crypto, Business2Community, NapoliSerieA, Extra Time Talk, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He has written a book about Nirvana, hosts a music podcasts, and writes weekly content about some of the best, new and old, alternative musicians. Eduard also runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website www.alt77.com. Mr. Banulescu is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.
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