Do you have a favorite album from The Police? Or perhaps a great memory of buying or playing one of them in particular? Here are their albums ranked as a reminder of their music.
The Police formed as a three-piece band in London in 1977, just as punk rock was soaring. Sting, Andy Summers, and Stuart Copeland seemed to arrive from nowhere to crash the airwaves and charts with their own new style of music. Their distinctive sound had a base in new wave music with touches of reggae and jazz. The Police continued to develop their style until they disbanded in 1986, having achieved huge global success.
Surprisingly, The Police only released five studio albums, all classics. The group had four of their five albums listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time on both the 2012 and 2003 editions. Let’s look at the albums below ranked in order of most weeks on the Billboard 200 charts - and learn which one didn’t make that Rolling Stone list.
5. - 'Outlandos d’Amour'
The Police released their debut album on November 2, 1978. “Roxanne” was a huge hit single from the album. With that amazing reggae sound and Sting’s vocals, it brought the band and their new album very much to the public attention.
“So Lonely” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” followed as hit singles from the disc. Outlandos d’Amour hit No. 6 on the U.K. charts and got to 23 on the Billboard 200, spending 63 weeks there.
I absolutely loved this album when it came out, from the pop art style album cover to the brilliant music, which just fitted that late 70s period so well. It is still one of my favorite albums.
4. - 'Synchronicity'
The band's fifth and final studio album was released on June 17, 1983. Their greatest of the five, Synchronicity, was No. 1 on the U.K. album charts and the only album to hit the top spot on the Billboard 200. It only spent 75 weeks there, ranking fourth on this list. It did sell over eight million copies in the U.S., though.
The album had more top hits in "Every Breath You Take," "King of Pain," and "Wrapped Around Your Finger." The first of those was a huge worldwide hit single and assumed initially to be a love song. It was later revealed by Sting to be much more sinister - a possessive lover watching every breath, every move.
The song has other claims, such as Sting writing some of it sitting at Ian Fleming’s desk in Jamaica, where James Bond stories were created. Or Sting and Stuart Copeland falling out so seriously in the studio that recording the track live as a band as planned wasn’t possible.
Looking back, it was an album with a band reaching its peak musically in a studio. But also nearing the end of the journey. Many critics were labeling them as the biggest rock band in the world at that time—quite an achievement.
3. - 'Regatta de Blanc'
The Police released their second album on October 2, 1979. This was their first No. 1 U.K. album and reached 25 on the Billboard 200, spending 100 weeks there. This easily dodged the difficult second album syndrome bringing us top tunes in “Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon." It also had a very jazzy and Grammy award-winning instrumental title track.
As an album, it was much in keeping with the debut disc, even down to a very similar style of cover. That theme and the hit singles meant it was a no-brainer to buy at the time and add to my album collection. This was definitely a band that knew what they were doing and wrote and played great music of the times.
2. - 'Ghost In The Machine'
The band's fourth album was released on October 2, 1981. It topped the U.K. album chart and hit second spot on the Billboard 200, where it featured for 109 weeks. Featuring strong tracks like "Spirits in the Material World," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," and "Invisible Sun," there was plenty to like in this more complex and perhaps sophisticated album.
Ghost In The Machine was a huge step forward in how The Police developed musically. This was perhaps also the start of the end of the band, as internal relationships between the trio were fraught while recording. I felt that came through in some of the lyrics and sound, but I absolutely loved the album. It seemed to help me advance my own music development and tastes too.
1. - 'Zenyatta Mondatta'
In the top spot with 153 weeks on the Billboard 200 is the group's third album Zenyatta Mondatta. Released on October 3, 1980, the album hit many high spots. No. 1 on the U.K. album charts and No. 5 on the Billboard 200.
It had a couple of hit singles and classic fan favorites in "Don't Stand So Close to Me" and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da." The album also brought two Grammy awards, one for Best Rock Performance and one for Best Rock Instrumental for the album track “Behind My Camel.”
Although the album's success is evident, and it’s ranked as their top album here, I’m not surprised at all to see that this was The Police album that Rolling Stone passed on for their Top 500 list. It’s the only one from the band that didn’t make it.
The album was perhaps a transition from the rawer energy of the early albums to the sound of a well-developed rock band. It felt to me at the time a bit flat and ordinary, perhaps going through the motion of recording to meet a contract.
Personal choice for top album
My own personal selection as the top album from The Police would undoubtedly be the debut Outlandos d’Amour. The album and its music had a huge impact on me at that time as the world changed, new wave raged, and my own music tastes were developing. Every time I play, it the memories come flooding back. Give it a listen soon!
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