This album was released in 1980, and signalled The Police as a forthcoming supergroup proven by its US #5 and UK #1 chart positions.The album featured two huge Police tracks "Don't stand so close to me" and "De do do do, de da da da".Unfortunately,this was the only Police album that did not make the Rolling Stone's "500 greatest albums" list which is a really shame.This album is constantly overlooked by critics and fans alike which I believe has to do with the fact that the band members themselves used to slag the album.The reason for this was the fact that the album was written and recorded in a mere 4 weeks which may have something to do with the large abundance of instrumental tracks present on the album.
When I first bought this album it took me around four listens before I really started enjoying it as much as I do now.It now sits as my favourite Police album and one of my favourite albums of all time.Stylisticatily, this album is alot more progressive than the first two Police albums.It still has a little bit of punk/raggae at parts, but now includes more pop and jazz sections and more bass ostinatos than before.
1.Don't stand so close to me
This is my favourite song on the album and my favourite Police song of all time.The chorus is very catchy and the raggae backbeat present in the song adds a great texture.Andy Summers also add's some good guitar layering in the chorus and the video for this song displayed a young band full of vibrance.Brilliant song.It was later recorded at an ill-fated attempt to make a sixth Police album.The band felt that the original had been recorded too fast and needed some spicing up.All that came from those dire sessions was the remake "Don't stand so close to me 86". 5/5
2.Driven to tears
Another great song.This featured Sting's first attempt at political lyrics and they sound excellent.This also displays Stewart Copeland's best drum work on this album with his aggressive approach of playing matching his slick hi-hat/octaban work.Andy Summer's also has a great solo which was uncommon in most Police music.It would resurface many times in Sting's solo career. 5/5
3.When the world is running down,you make the best of what's still around
This song contains some very good bass work from Sting.Simple, but brilliant as well.Stewart provides a solid 4/4 backbeat and Andy Summer's provides 3 simple barre chords played throughtout the entire song.The simplicity of this songs manages to sound very lush at the same time with its amazing lyrics.Sting was differently progressing at this point in his career.Although this song is a real toe tapper,it begins to drag on after awhile but nonetheless,still a brilliant showcase of 3 immensely talented musicians playing simple pop music. 5/5
4.Canary in a coalmine
Another great song.Andy Summer's adds a riveting guitar backing to Sting's amazing lyrical work:
First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live you life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line.
Again, Stewart provides a solid backbeat to the song.A very catchy song indeed! 5/5
5.Voices inside my head
Many of Sting's lyrics on this album have to do with feelings of paranoia and such.Just listening to the lyrics throughout the album gives the indication that Sting had been doing his homework on certain subjects.This track is another instrumental with only the title of the song receiving any spoken word.ANother very simplified song,it begins to drag on again with the only spark near the end of the song coming in the form of some taseful Copeland drum fills. 4/5
The first Stewart Copeland penned track on the album features a very catchy drum beat and some tasty dynamics on the snare courtesy of Mr.Copeland.The song's lyrics show reference to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which could possibly stem from Stewart's days growing up in Egypt and middle eastern countries due to the fact that his dad was an Amercian secret services worker.This song seems sort of cheesy at first glance,but it begins to grow on you after a few listens! 4/5
7.De do do do,De da da da
Sting wrote this song because he wanted to experiment with nonsense lyrics in the vein of "Tutti Frutti", "Doo Wah Diddy" and "Ob la di Ob la da".It has been said that he got the name of the song from his song.The lyrics refer to how politicians, entertainers, and other people use words to manipulate society.This was a HUGE hit in the states and is one of the greatest Police songs ever recorded.Many people dismiss due to the less then intelligent sounding name,but the song shines through I believe.The song itself features a 'raggaefied' feel and just as in 'Don't stand so close to me', Andy adds some solid textural guitar rhythm guitar parts which in unison with Sting's bass work, equals out to a highly enjoying song. 5/5
8.Behind my Camel
This was Andy Summer's first major contribution to the band.This song was coveredby Primus extensively and is another one of the album's many instrumental tracks.The simplicity of the guitar riff can perhaps only be matched by "When the world is running down".Most of the song features the same recurring guitar ostinato, and sounds like it would have a great spot on a "song's of halloween" cd or off of some George Romero flick.Stewart adds some nice cymbal work showing off the style that millions of drummers would one day imitate.All in all a very decent song,but begins to drag near the end.But nonetheless,it won a grammy in 1981 for 'best instrumental' alongside "Don't stand so close to me" which won "best rock performance". 3/5
9.Man in a suitcase
The second best song on the album, this song should have been released for a single.If you don't have this song on your iPod.....DOWNLOAD IT NOW!! Everything about this song is great;amazing drumming,super catchy and smart lyrics and a great raggae rhythm guitar backing to really get your feet tapping.Simply amazing. 5/5
10.Shadows in the rain
Again we see more references to paranoia in Sting's writing.Sting wrote this song about his birthplace Newcastle,England.He said him and his father used to get up very early in the morning to delivery milk and he used to imagine what Newcastle would be like if a nuclear bomb was every dropped on the town.Thus,he came up with "Shadows in the rain".After The Police disbanded around 1983,Sting would take this song with him and re-record it for his debut album,"The Dream of Blue Turtles".That version contained a very upbeat, swinging feel.This version has a very errie sound to it ala "Behind my camel.The longest track on the album,it clocks in at 5:03.In all honesty,whenever I play this album,I find I usually skip over this song.I prefer the newer version better.This song tends to drag on again near the end like a few other tracks on the album.A great song nonetheless, but I feel the newer, upbeat version is superior. 3/5
11.The other way of stopping
The second Copeland penned track and the last song on the album,this is another instrumental song.It features more simplistic Police arrangements with a solid Copeland drum beat, and a catchy Andy Summer's guitar hook present throughout the song reminiscent of "Behind my camel".Not one of the best tracks on the album but still a solid closer to a magnificent musical journey. 3/5
So their you have it.I would definitely suggest buying this album.The Police were beginning to experiment with more styles of music and Zenyatta Mondatta (which,according to the band,has no real meaning) was sort of a middle ground of sorts.The band seemed to be caught between the punk/raggae that was personified in their early days and the heavy jazz/pop sound that the band eventually molded into.