Review Summary: Outlandos d’Amour is a wonderful debut album by The Police, it has lots of energy and showcases great instrumental talent and a variety of unique songwriting abilities that would come to define The Police over the next half-decade.Outlandos d’Amour
is the 1978 debut album by the trio of bassist Gordon Sumner (a.k.a. Sting,) guitarist Andy Summers, and drummer Stewart Copeland, who called themselves The Police. After a six month period of sporadic recording at Surrey Sound studios, supported by a £1,500 loan from Copeland’s brother Miles, The Police released a fantastic debut album. Outlandos d’Amour
definitively ushered in the post-punk era and cemented The Police as its main standard bearer. The album spawned a few of The Police’s best known songs, including the often-parodied “Roxanne” and the catchy yet depressing songs “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely.”
The Police recorded in a very unique musical style, combining punk with funk and reggae influences, which made Outlandos d’Amour
a breath of fresh air in the disco and punk era. The sound still holds up with funky syncopated guitar from Summers over slick bass grooves by Sting, all backed by tight percussion with exemplary drum fills from Copeland. Even songs that seem very straightforward rock songs at first glance like “Hole in My Life” are actually full of complex instrumentation. The combination of the four discordant sounding instruments (with the addition of Joe Sinclair on piano) on this track produces a swing-style song that is one of the better B-sides in the discography of The Police.
“Roxanne” is probably the best known song by The Police, as it has been covered numerous times and used in many movies and TV shows. The annoyingly catchy single about a man who falls in love with a prostitute was not initially a success for the band, mainly because the BBC would not play it because of its subject matter. But once the single was released in America it became a huge hit, and “Roxanne” appeared on every greatest hits record The Police released and is ranked at number 388 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The reggae influence is easy to hear on “Roxanne,” with its sparse guitar chords coupled with Copeland’s straight drumming and Sting’s wailing vocals. The chorus of “Roxanne” is much more like a classic 1970’s rock song, with lyrics that everybody knows and always prompts sing-alongs. The juxtaposition of reggae verses with rock n’ roll choruses is classic Police, and “Roxanne” was just a taste of what was to come.
is not an album without its faults, however. Some of the songs come off as uninspired and derivative, specifically the trio of songs on the second side of the album “Truth Hits Everybody,” “Born in the 50’s,” and “Be My Girl – Sally.” These songs seem quite silly in their production and lyrics, perhaps almost parodying the rock songs that the members of the band grew up listening to. “Be My Girl – Sally” is less of a song and more a poem about a man’s relationship with a blow-up doll bookended by a basic 50’s style rock love song with Sting singing: “Would you be my girl, would you be my girl, be my, be my, be my girl” ad nauseum. The song is still funny in its parody and subject matter but not exactly a cornerstone in the Police’s catalogue.
Overall, Outlandos d’Amour
is a wonderful debut album by The Police, it has lots of energy and showcases great instrumental talent and a variety of unique songwriting abilities that would come to define The Police over the next half-decade in their short recording career. Outlandos d’Amour
is a great first effort for a band that was sure to rise very quickly.