The Police: Patrolling the Sound of Rock
English rock band The Police were the kings of rock during the 70s and 80s. The band consisted of Lead Singer/Bassist Sting, Guitarist Andy Summers and Drummer Stewart Copeland.
In an interview with BigNoiseNow.com, Summers explains that, “Stewart thought of the name [of the band]. There are no political connotations to it. It’s just a very strong name. If anything, it has an irony for being the name of a rock group. It’s a name people say once and never forget. It’s a name of [an] association. It’s not that we’re for or against the police, or that we’re fascists.”
What sets The Police apart from other rock bands of the 70’s era was their reggae/pop-rock influenced sound. During this time, punk rock was the popular sound of the day, so when The Police came on the scene with their new sound, audiences were sold and they became the most popular pop,rock & roll band in the world, according to ThePoliceFile.com.
“Andy Summers had a precise guitar attack that created dense, interlocking waves of sounds and effects,” ThePoliceFile.com reports. “Stewart Copeland could play polyrhythms effortlessly. And Sting, with his high, keening voice, was capable of constructing infectiously catchy pop songs. While they weren’t punk, the Police certainly demonstrated that the punk spirit could have a future in pop music.”
“We’re not punks,” Summers explained in an interview with BigNoiseNow.com. “We don’t sound like a punk band, obviously. We started out on the punk scene, but our music is more sophisticated than that. We do a lot of reggae. The harmonies, the rhythms we use. We just don’t sound punk. Overall, there’s this real heavy punk sound out there with real thrashing chords, and we just don’t sound like that.”
Also in the interview, Summers explained how their reggae vibe came to be in their music.
“We live in London [and] reggae’s very popular there. Bob Marley’s quite popular, you know. And so we’ve all been listening to it for a while. Then it started creeping into our rehearsals. We just started jamming reggae without even discussing it. And when Sting wrote ‘Roxanne,’ it was the first song we ever really treated as having a reggae feel. And even then, we really didn’t think it was reggae. What we did was take the elements from reggae, the basic elements, and used them to our own end. Because, I felt what we do is not really reggae, it’s a blending of rock and reggae. We’re one of the first groups ever doing that, really,” he said.
What also set The Police apart from other bands in the world was their musical reign in two different continents. By their fifth album “Synchronicity,” their most successful album to date, The Police were the winners of six Grammy’s and multiple chart-topping singles like “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” and “Spirits in the Material World.” But the single that earned the band their seat on the rock throne was “Every Breath You Take” which spent eight weeks at the top of the U.S. charts and four at the top of the U.K. charts. This song not only became one of the biggest American hits of all time but one of the most-remembered rock ballads of the ’80s and the recipient of the 2005 Broadcast Music Inc. Award for eight million radio plays. They also were ranked the no. 1 most played band on U.S. radio in the ’80s, according to ThePolice.com.
Unfortunately their reign came to an end after their record-breaking “Synchronicity World Tour.” According to ThePoliceFile.com, “once the tour was completed, the band announced they were going on a “sabbatical” in order to pursue outside interests. The Police never returned from their sabbatical. During the “Synchronicity” tour, personal and creative tensions between the band members escalated greatly, and they had no desire to work together for a while.”
Attempts at re-banding were made but only ended in the group band releasing their compilation album, “Every Breath You Take: The Singles,” which became their fifth British no.1 album and their fourth no.1 album in America. Shortly after the compilation album was released, The Police disbanded and they began work on their solo projects.
Living in a musical era where musical acts come and go, it is remarkable that although The Police stayed together for only six years, their ability to patrol the sound of rock has enabled their iconic songs to survive the test of time.