The short-lived but massively successful trio of The Police may never again release new music together. At least drummer Steward Copeland suggested as much in a recent interview. While they have periodically rejoined to tour and play their classic songs for audiences worldwide, and while they have much more cordial relationships now, their newfound professional courtesy is not going to lead to collaboration on new material.
That hasn’t stopped all three members from releasing their own solo work, starting famously with Sting and his foray into jazz, and Andy Summers’ combination photo exhibit and music tour. Stewart Copeland’s interests have been mainly in soundtracks, backing music, and orchestral works. His YouTube channel includes collaborations with bandmate Summers but also Primus, Snoop Dog, and mega-collaborator Jeff Lynne. In 2023, Copeland in collaboration with Ricky Kej, won his seventh Grammy, this time in the category Best Immersive Audio Album. He has been both busy and successful.
His latest work is both a tour and a forthcoming album (June 2023) that explores orchestral arrangements of Police songs. These are not instrumentals, as each song includes accompanying vocals and band support from Cameroonian bass player Armand Sabal Lecco (Paul Simon), guitarist Rusty Anderson (Paul McCartney), and vocalists Amy Keys, Carmel Helene, and Ashley Támar. The album and tour called The Police Deranged for Orchestra, is a clever play on the non-word “dearranged” and is a unique take on music many of us have heard many times since the 1980s and 90s.
The inspiration for this work came from his work on assembling Super8 footage of the Police’s early career successes and attempting to carve their music into parts that fit smoothly to support the action and tone in various parts of the film. This included decomposing the structure of the music, changing the tempo, adding other instruments or a reprise (“dearranging”) – and in doing so finding various subtleties and countermelodies in the music. He also found tapes and tracks that included alternative takes of solos, vocal improvisations, and instruments that were just edited out of the final cut of the particular song. He also remixed some of the music found on these unused tracks into the Deranged LP arrangements.
Track listings for the forthcoming release include many familiar Police catalog entries:
- “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”
- “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”
- “King of Pain”
- “Demolition Man”
- “Murder by Numbers”
- “Tea in the Sahara”
- “Can’t Stand Losing You” / “Regatta de Blanc”
- “Every Breath You Take”
Note that in his live touring show, he includes other Police songs such as “Spirits in a Material World”, “Equalizer”, “Walking in Your Footsteps”, and “Walking on the Moon.”
Copeland is also slated to release a new book later this year titled Stewart Copeland’s Police Diaries which includes notes and stories from their early years. And if you want to check out some really obscure Steward Copeland work, in 1980 he assumed an alter-ego named “Klark Kent” and released an album under that pseudonym where he played all the instruments and provided the vocals. It was in fact the first solo album released by any Police members. You can find a video on YouTube that includes four cuts and they’re not bad – you can definitely detect influences that would later make it into Police songs, especially in “Office Talk.”
Photo: The Police (Getty Images)
PS — While we’re on the topic of Rock History, you might enjoy our YouTube series of daily one-minute nuggets of memorable moments…