Way (way!) back in 1980, based on the incredible success of their second album Regatta de Blanc (1979), with the hits “Message in a Bottle”, “Walking on the Moon” – not to mention “Roxanne”, “So Lonely”, and “Can’t Stand Losing You” from their debut album, Outlandos d’Amour (1978), The Police launched their first world tour, which included stops in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Egypt, Greece, France, South America, and the US. Highlights of the tour, both on and off stage, were captured in a documentary film by Kate and Derek Burbridge entitled The Police Around the World, which was released in 1982 on VHS and Laserdisc. It has not been released since.
Until now. On May 20, a completely remastered version will be released on DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, and DVD+LP. The LP will be pressed on silver vinyl and all will have fully remastered audio and video. The set also includes never before released live audio and footage of the band informally partaking in local eateries and venues throughout the tour. Regarding the tour, according to Andy Summers, “Like Napoleon, we wanted the world. Out of the messy and fervent atmosphere in London at that time we conceived the idea to go all around the world and film the whole adventure. As far as we knew no rock band, at least, had ever done that. We had just about enough popularity to get booked around the globe. Plans were made.” Kate and Derek Burbridge went on to direct many Police music videos, in addition to some for Gary Numan, the Stray Cats, and Queen.
The Police only released five albums and yet is still one of the most renowned New Wave bands. While the group was still madly popular, in 1986 they split acrimoniously due to internal strife and a desire to pursue solo projects – especially Sting, who went on the have a very successful pop/jazz solo career.
The key to their success was a combination of highly musically educated and talented performers — including Stewart Copeland with his syncopated drumming style, Andy Summers, and his ching-changy jazz chord structures. and Sting, who brought pop/reggae sensibility, a mastery of chords and modulations, solid bass playing, and that distinctive vocal range. It was “lightning in a bottle” — while it lasted.
There have been other autobiographical documentaries since The Police disbanded. Stewart Copeland assembled Super-8 movies he had taken during their tours and combined them into Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, and Andy Summers released the autobiographical book One Train Later in 2006. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2003, performing three songs together for the first time since 1986. Sting was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2002. And while some combination of the two of them appeared in a variety of shows and impromptu performances, the threesome did not perform together officially until 2007 when they embarked on their reunion tour, for the band’s 30th anniversary. The band was clear that this would not mark a reunion nor the release of any new music. They clearly did not want to record together again.
But that 2007 tour was a polished, corporate version of a live event. Certainly entertaining and a must-see for any Police fan, the band members were of course older and their performances more honed. If you’ve seen any of the videos of shows during that tour, the talent is monumental, but there is a blunting of the edginess that only comes with unbridled youth. This remastered collection then is a chance to watch the nascence of what would become a worldwide supergroup, including the mistakes and the improvisations, but with modern stunning audio.
The tracklist includes all of their most popular songs – including multiple renditions at different venues, and some rarities such as the super-jivey “Deathwish” with its Bo Diddley beat and iconic riffing by Andy Summers – and – the frenetic “Visions of the Night,” which sounds like something U2 might write while jacked on cocaine, with Summers channeling The Edge in strumming and effects.
All that and their classics will be in a crisp modern video on May 20.
Photo: Getty Images
I highly recommend Andy’s book “One Train Later”, one of the best rock autobiographies I have ever read (and I’ve read a few!)