Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Regatta de Blanc

Tonight I decided to go through the Police album 'Regatta de Blanc.'

One might think that this blog is slowly turning into just a list of song reviews by me, other than posts that have to do with aspects of relationships, and the odd reversed Home Alone segment. Well, I currently have no topics on my mind right now, and this was interesting, so continue I shall.

I've said before that I tend to only like a band for one or two of its songs. It's true for bands like The Go-Go's, Seal, The Tragically Hip, R.E.M., Supertramp (although I do like more of their songs than I usually do of a band other than Madness) Big Audio Dynamite, Hanson, The Philosopher Kings, Michael Jackson, and probably many others. In this case I decided to venture further into The Police and listen to a whole album. Why I did that is probably because they were a ska/reggae/punk band, which is closer to my kind of sound, so it wouldn't hurt to try out their complete album.

Before I start talking about what I think, here's an overview of the album from Wikipedia:

"Message in a Bottle", a Sting-penned song about alienation, opens the album. It is followed by the mostly instrumental "Reggatta de Blanc" (the title being a pseudo-French translation referring to the album's style of "white reggae"), one of the few songs written by all members of the Police. The instrumental piece came from the long instrumental break in the live performance of "Can't Stand Losing You" and earned the band the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance
"It's Alright For You" is a driving punk-ish song featuring strong guitar and drum parts. The next three tracks, "Bring on the Night" (about the execution of Gary Gilmore), "Deathwish", and "Walking on the Moon" all have a strong reggae feel to them. "On Any Other Day" features a rare lead vocal from Stewart Copeland, and is a humorous take on a middle-aged man having a horrible birthday. 
"The Bed's Too Big Without You" (later covered by reggae singer Sheila Hylton in 1981, which became a UK chart hit), "Contact" and "Does Everyone Stare" are three songs dealing with the connection, or lack thereof, between two individuals. The hectic "No Time This Time", originally featured as the B side of the previous year's "So Lonely" single, closes the album.

I basically listened to all of them. By the way, when I copied the article above, all the hyperlinks somehow transferred with the prose, so I have Wikipedia links to 'alienation' and 'reggae' up there. It's not my intentional doing.

I've always known and often listened to 'Message in a Bottle' and 'Walking on the Moon' (probably my most favorite Police song) though I never listened to any of the others. It was an interesting experience.

Of all the songs up there, I found 'Contact' to be the best, because the music was probably the best-sounding to me. I loved the bass line in the chorus, and it sounded exactly like something I'd come up with myself - the sound just sounded like something I'd love to create on my own bass. I love how Sting sings, and the lyrics are kind of funny ("I'd come on over but I haven't got a raincoat").

'Does Everyone Stare' is also quite good, with a nice beat and interesting guitar. 'It's Alright For You' has a nice chorus as well, nice guitar.

The rest were all pretty good, not bad, and they all demonstrate the amazing professionalism of the trio - Andy Summers is just amazing at the guitar, filled with so much variety, and I don't think I've ever heard a better drummer than Stewart Copeland, who drives everything with a fast, unrelenting beat filled with hi-hat flourishes and ride cymbal flashes and patterns. Sting's voice is sometimes hard to hear but it is pretty distinctive and he sings quite well on most of the songs. His bass lines are, like Summers' guitar chords and notes, filled with variety and like they have a worldly influence in them.
The only song I found a bit repetitive was 'Deathwish.' Otherwise the rest were just alive with variety, fun, fast sound and wide-ranging influence that make the experience very unpredictable and in result exhilarating and great. The three songs mentioned above all ended up in my favorites.

I think, as a result of this, that The Police will become the next Supertramp - I like more than one or two of their songs, appreciate their sound, and enjoy it, but not nearly to the extent of listening to it all the time and becoming a full fan like I am of Madness. They've got some good sounds, and wonderful influence - I tend to find that the more international and worldy an influence or influences a band has, the better they sound, creating a sort of fusion, instead of just sticking to one genre all the time. That's exactly what The Police did, which is what I find so appealing about them.

I just can't believe Copeland's rim clicks at the beginning of the instrumental 'Regatta de Blanc' or his drumming introduction of the album's closer, 'No Time this Time.'

I'd give the album an A-. It just has a lot of variety as a result of the wide influence the band has, and what's more, it was recorded before they had any pressure from fans to create something just as great, so they were able to freely do what inspired them without worry or self-consciousness, resulting in this great compendium of music and lyrics.

Justin C.

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