When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around

If you think that The Police is a law enforcement agency, darlings, you’re very wrong. Well, I mean, of course you’re right, but it’s all about context, and in this case, I’m talking about the post-punk British band from the late ’70s and early ’80s. At one point they were the biggest band in the world, until personalities made it impossible for the band to continue.

But if, when you hear The Police, you think Every Breath You Take, then you need to heed your favourite dilettante’s advice and keep reading. Worse yet, if you thought that was a Puff Daddy song, then I’m sorry, I can’t help you. (Damn you, Diddy. Damn your eyes.)

When the band started out in the late ’70s, they were raw and full of energy — the same kind of angry energy that fueled The Sex Pistols or The Clash — but these three guys could really fucking play. Imagine taking the art-school proficiency of Roxy Music and blending it with the angry young man nihilism of The Sex Pistols, and you’ve got The Police.

The Police was my first favourite band — I was about 10 years old and I raided my sister’s record collection, stealing the first three of their albums from her and listening to them on my giant headphones. It was love at first listen. And no, she didn’t even own Synchronicity, the album that made them zillionaires with its hits Every Breath You Take and King of Pain. It was ultimately their swan song, too, so… what does that say about too much success?

I’m going to share some early songs of theirs, and NO, I’m not going to be playing the hits. You’re not going to hear Roxanne or Message in a Bottle or Don’t Stand So Close To Me — all amazing songs, true, but you KNOW them — or if you don’t, then seriously, where have you been and what have you been listening to, darlings? Put down your Thirty Seconds to Bruno Mars and your Mumford, Lumineers, Bastille & Sons and broaden your musical horizons. True, Sting sold out and made Disney soundtracks, as well as some of the lamest adult contemporary easy listening bullshit music known to man — but I can forgive him his latter day sins because of this really great early stuff — can’t you find it in your hearts as well?

Next to You – from the Old Grey Whistle Test

So Lonely

Can’t Stand Losing You

Bring On the Night

When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around

That takes you as far as those first three albums, darlings — a taste of what I discovered at ten — not that the other two albums aren’t good — but stylistically, they really do take a turn away from this early, frenetic, reggae infused art-punk as I like to call it. (Trademark pending, darlings) If I see the word ART-PUNK being used and abused, I’ll hunt you down like a dog. Like a dog hunts a fox. Except I’m the fox. And you’re a dog.

Wait, I’m confused. Just don’t do it. But do listen to these three albums – or at least these highlights.

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16 responses to “When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around

  1. The Police were never my favorite band (just an average fan), but those albums define what music can be in the hands of people that are really plugged in.

      • Sometimes I shudder when thinking about all the music I’ve forgotten, and how some of it was really good (but not great.)
        (I don’t even want to think about great music I’ve forgotten.)

  2. They’re okay, but since I was born in the late 70’s I would venture to say I hadn’t developed my musical taste yet. Of course, that is changing all the time…

  3. Love their song, “Synchronicity II.” I rock out to The Police in general, but when I hear that song, I have to turn it up loud. “So Lonely” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” definitely up there too.

    How about that sleeper favorite “Man in a Suitcase?”

    • Zenyatta Mondatta might be their best album in my opinion…. right before they started getting really huge and everything went to hell. Canary in a Coalmine, Mani in a Suitcase, Driven to Tears, Voices in my Head… AND AND AND…. a great little throwaway instrumental called Behind my Camel, which was adeptly covered by Primus: http://youtu.be/Rh-GCF9CHP4
      Is Syncho II the one that’s got the line in it about “Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes/contestants in a suicidal race” ? If so. Yes. So much yes.

      • Oh… I just listened to the ’86 remake of Don’t Stand So Close to Me today, and nearly laughed my ass off at the Phil Collins-esque synth drums — it’s like the mid-80s just barfed all over a formerly brilliant song. I felt like teasing my hair and stretching into some leggings and an oversized FRANKIE SAYS RELAX t-shirt and a giant belt.
        I think they seriously just used the drum track from Invisible Touch.

      • Hahaha. There is a post-hardcore band called Armsbendback, who does a cover of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” it definitely has the darker sound to go along with the lyrics, and it’s actually is decent in my opinion.

      • Yeah, that’s not bad! I was worried at first that it was going to go all screamo at the chorus (god I hate screamo) but this was pretty decent. It’s weird that more people don’t cover The Police. They had so many hits, maybe it’s intimidating? Dunno. Maybe the next time the Goo Goo Dolls need a single they’ll cover Message in a Bottle or something else so ridiculously huge (like Give a Little Bit) so that they’ll get radio play. (I’m a bitch, I know.)

      • I know I shouldn’t speak this way to a lady of your notoriety, but… fuckin’ Goo Goo Dolls. The story how a perfectly great band graciously and blatantly rides the mainstream waves.

        There was no in-between album to ease into the mainstream with them. They hit “Name,” and it was just greed from there.

  4. My favorite band of all time! “Zenyatta Mondatta” is probably my favorite album but then again it depends on my mood. The Police were the soundtrack to my life for many years and I have so many amazing memories associated with their music.

    If you get a chance, track down Stewart Copeland’s album “The Rythmatist”. FANTASTIC!

    • Way ahead of you, darling — it is great — and he’s done some terrific soundtrack stuff, too. Andy Summers turned out a couple of incredible Jazz albums as well as two interesting collaborations with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. (sorry — I’m an audiophile AND a show-off!)

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