Slapdash Flashback: The Police, GHOST IN THE MACHINE

My wife – 100% Sicilian in background — joyously berates me every time I switch which ethnicity I identify with depending on the circumstance.  I am Norwegian-Scottish-Welsh-Dutch-Belgian-Irish in direct background.  Or, by last name:  Mose-MacRae-Waite-Stahl-Noel-Morgan(Catholic)-Biggin(Prod).  So I have a convenient palette to choose from.  And that’s not even counting the various North American spinarounds, from upstate NYC to Canada to the Upper Midwest.  Nomads, my people, often criminals and peasants.

The story about one of the Irish ancestors, a Biggin I believe, was that he killed a tax collector with a shovel, and thus had to emigrate with all due haste.

So you can easily envision how a 12 year old me thought a song about The Troubles, with a music video banned by the BBC for content, sounded like something that had to be owned and devoured.

So I bought this tape for “Invisible Sun”.

Obviously, the two best known songs on the album – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Spirits in the Material World” – are in continual radio play and are still pretty unavoidable.

But the rest of this album is just an unmitigated disaster.  God damn, if “Invisible Sun” has just been a hit, I could taped the three good songs off the radio and been satisfied.  DAMN you, BBC.

Summers and Copeland, the non-Sting Policemen, have their own quoted issues about how the heavy synth sound took them away from the interesting stuff of their proto-pop punk sound.

But with retrospect and much time spent living in Florida, the real problem with the rest of Ghost In The Machine is that Sting appears to have taken a vacation in the Bahamas, and decided that The Police should subsequently become the best-ever shitty Island-style bar band.  We’ll take a godawful tourist-style and make it the best-selling album of 1982.

I hope to hell he meant it as irony, because if not, it’s just hideous crap.

Go to Amazon and listen to tracks 7-11 for yourself:

Shrieky vocals, low in the mix.
Guitar sounds that barely exist.
Sax work that would make Huey Lewis say, “Boy, that’s some overproduced cheesy shit right there.”

By the time you hit “One World”, and hear Stewart Copeland desperately smacking his drums and cymbals harder and harder and HARDER, trying to inject some small spark of life into these rotting corpse-songs, you have to eject the tape out of a certain amount of embarrassment on his behalf.

But “Invisible Sun” holds its melancholy well.  It makes me want to read some Yeats or Garth Ennis, drink some Jamesons or Guinness — and never, ever let the tape reel further than the fadeout of that song.

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