#859: 1979, The Police, Message In A Bottle

by Ray_North on February 26, 2014

In the intervening thirty four years, since this was a top ten hit – The Police have gone from being a mainstream, yet respected New Wave group, to being a band that everyone likes to ridicule. And the principal reason for that is Sting. There is something hypocritical about Sting – he is in the Bono school of worthy, multi-millionaire pop stars who seem to enjoy the bombastic proselytising trappings of stadium fame. Living in massive wealth whilst trying to appear politically liberal and caring. Something grates about it.

But, if you put that to one side – for a period from around 1978 when they released Fall Out, up until the nonsense that was De Do Do Do, etc, The Police released some great tracks. Although they were ostensibly a pop band with three pretty boys with trade mark blonde hair, their songs were extremely dark – So Lonely is about teen suicide, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, is about a teacher having an affair with a pupil (Sting had been a school teacher); Every Breath You Take, the darkest of all, is about stalking; Roxanne, of course, about prostitution – fluffy, One Direction they were not.

They were also fantastic and innovative musicians – Stuart Copeland’s drumming is legendary, whilst Andy Summers’guitar was always interesting and energetic. But, in fairness, it is Sting’s basslines that often the most memorable thing about those early Police tracks – the wonderfully simple yet hypnotic bass in Walking on the Moon is instantly recognisable, as is the driving single notes that he uses in this Message In A Bottle.

It is quite right that we have a Police song after nearly 900 songs, because we on these pages grew up with them – and it’s quite right as well that we have a theme week celebrating great basslines. Over to you boys.

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