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Friday, April 07, 2017

The Police -- Every Breath You Take: The Classics


If I wanted to show someone what The Police were about in one album, I'd play, Every Breath You Take: The Classics. In our current streaming-based musical climate, a greatest hits compilation might seem silly. However, for a band like The Police, who were so musically diverse, yet never quite nailed a perfect album, this greatest hits collection is the perfect gateway to their work. It showcases the raw, reggae-influenced urgency of their first album, the jammier, more stretched out and polished version of that on their second, the combination of the sound of their second album with a more pop-leaning on their third, the complete abandonment of reggae with a dark, deeper focus on pop-experimentation of their fourth, and the focus on Sting's more adult contemporary solo sound from their fifth and final. The Police are one of my favorite all-time bands, but even I can admit that hearing all of their best work together is better for a newcomer than say, diving immediately into the heady, stretched out jams of Zenyatta Mondatta. You really get the full-range of their talents here, and thankfully, none of the songs are edited down--for instance, "Walking on the Moon" still gets to space out for its full five minutes. Also, the songs are in near chronological order (and in complete album order), marking the gradual change in sound subtle, so that the trip from track one, "Roxanne" to track twelve, "Wrapped Around Your Finger" feels like a natural journey. As a bonus, at the end you also get the drum-machine and keyboard soaked 1986 re-imagining of "Don't Stand So Close to Me," and a more muscular, but slightly compressed-sounding remix of "Message in a Bottle."
You can't go wrong with this collection. There are plenty of bloated "Greatest Hits" compilations full of head-scratching omissions. To perfectly distill everything this short-lived, but incredible band could do in 12 tracks is a miracle, and one not to be missed. You could probably even stream it!

1995 A&M
1. Roxanne 3:11
2. Can't Stand Losing You 2:58
3. Message in a Bottle 4:50
4. Walking on the Moon 5:01
5. Don't Stand So Close to Me 4:04
6. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da 4:06
7. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic 4:19
8. Invisible Sun 3:44
9. Spirits in the Material World 2:58
10. Every Breath You Take 4:13
11. King of Pain 4:57
12. Wrapped Around Your Finger 5:14
13. Don't Stand So Close to Me '86 4:51
14. Message in a Bottle" (New Classic Rock mix) 4:51

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