Record Of The Week #1 - "Synchronicity" by The Police
Record Of The Week is a bit late this week, what with Christmas and the ensuing chaos but I'm serving up a cracker from my favourite band of all time.
In my very humble opinion The Police encapsulate everything that I like in music. Tight musicianship, interesting guitar playing, 80's chorus tones, jazz inflections and rock sensibilities distilled into a 3 minute pop format for the masses and the whole Synchronicity album is the pinnacle of this.
Kicking off with the 6/8 opener "Synchronicity I", with its chugging sequenced marimba synth intro and Carl Jung influenced lyrics. This leads into the ode to the dinosaurs "Walking In Your Footsteps" and "O My God" where if you listen carefully you'll hear guitarists Andy Summers filter sweeps on his Roland GR-303, currently on my list of "gear I must own at some point". Take a closer listen to it here, starting at the 5:44 mark:
Next up is the 7/8 flamenco weirdness of Summers "Mother", check out the guitar solo, and the fingerstyle guitar on Stewart Copeland's "Miss Gradenko" with another expertly crafted solo by Summers.
Then to my favourite song on the album, "Synchronicity II", with its dystopian stylings and great guitar riffs. I love the way the song builds both lyrically and musically, constantly shifting and changing chords that are more akin to prog than a pop song. Also the music video's worth a look just for those costumes. To say Sting was full of himself was a minor understatement and also look out for Andy Summers playing a Glitter Fishbone guitar.
Following this comes the behemoth hit single that is "Every Breath You Take", the arpeggiated tribute to stalkers everywhere, not the slushy love song the casual listener thinks it is. As a side note I love watching cover bands play this song as no one ever plays the drum line correctly. What Stewart Copeland plays is so subtle and clever its often lost in translation but the song is severely lacking if the drum line isn't played correctly.
Obviously Sting and the boys were going through troubled times in their love lives at this point as there are lost of references to lost love and pain in the next two tracks, "King Of Pain", with its 16th note delayed guitar in the chorus, and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" that highlights Sting's often under appreciated bass playing. Also listen out for the electric sitar melody line!
"Tea In The Sahara" seems gentle enough on the surface but is in fact a song about three women meeting their death in the desert and the album closer "Murder By Numbers" which compares politicians to the development of a serial killer and has the most awesome Andy Summers chord progression that clearly shows his jazz origins.
All in all this album is it for me. Dark subject matter, clever composition and brilliantly subtle playing in a misleading pop exterior.