Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Police - Ghost In The Machine (1981)

In honor of my going to see these guys on Sunday at the Meadowlands, I've decided to review one of their discs. Choosing, again, was difficult, so I've decided to go with one of their more contentious albums, the one where the band began to disintegrate and not jive as well musically. During this time, Sting supposedly was more in favor of coke than he was in his band-mates, and poor Andy was feeling a bit flustered from the sudden emergence of saxophones and synthesizers, which predominately fill the record. This is not to say that the record is awful because of this -- far from it -- the musicianship is solid; it's the tunes that don't quite feel right -- perhaps I would like to say 'too poppy.' See, The Police are an interesting band insofar as they play more or less pop tunes with a ridiculous set of chops; they kind of straddle the line, but no one would ever accuse them of being poseurs, nor would anyone classify them as art rock or prog rock. This album, I think, crosses that line.

The album opens with "Spirits In The Material World," a strong song featuring the first manifestation of keyboard-driven melodies and Sting's lyrical pop sensibilities. Next, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is a little more mid-tempo and has more piano and synth, and -- where the hell is Andy? This is what I thought at this point. I mean, when you have a power trio format, you want to hear each member, right, especially when each member is fantastic? All of those synth lines are distracting me from hearing the guitar notes (if there are any)! Andy is noticeably relegated to bit-player for most of this album, and Stew's frenetic energy seems subdued overall as well. "Invisible Sun" is the absolute highlight here, I think; definitely one of my faves. "Rehumanize Yourself" sounds like it got left off Outlandos; it's a nice little Police thrasher; if that's allowed. "Ωmegaman" and "Demolition Man" are good tunes as well, whereas "One World" and "Darkness" are pretty awful. Really, though, for all my little critiques, the album is still very good, but it's still one of their weaker albums. Essential? Oh yeah. What you're looking for? If you like the dreck that embodies the 80s, some of that horrible contemporary sound seeps in here, so a yes for you. For me, it's just a B+.


master cianan said...

Andy's all over this one, albeit very subtly in spots. He played a lot of guitar synth on this one. "one world" is rotten. but darkness is great, whatever you say. The saxophones weren't needed. Thus spake master cianan.

The Mad Hatter said...

On point as always Master Cianan and very true. Andy's work is subtle, but I'm not looking for subtlety with him; he's too good for that. Besides, he himself said he's not too fond of this record. Less than 48 hours until the show!