Flashback Fridays: The Police - Outlandos d'Amour
With a slew of electronic-heavy rock artists dominating the charts, its good to look back at a time when rock music was influenced not by electronic music or hip hop, but by the textures of reggae and punk rock.
The Police were formed in London, England in 1977 by Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, and Sting (real name Gordon Sumner). With a career that lasted up until the late 1980s and produced classic albums such as "Synchronicity." Along with bands like U2 and Queen, The Police quickly became one of the many bands to define the decade.
The first album by The Police, "Outlandos d'Amour" (loosely translated as "Outlaws of Love" in French) was released in 1979. It came at a time when New Wave was shifting to the mainstream. Being influenced by jazz, punk rock, reggae and pop music, "Outlandos d'Amour" had all the elements that would personify rock music during the decade of Ronald Reagan and perestroika.
Right off the bat, the album starts with "Next to You," a high tempo song showing off Stewart Copeland's searing drumming and Sting yelling his heart out. And right as the track stops it switches to the less punk rock-heavy "Roxanne," which to this day is one of the most popular songs in their repitoire.
"Roxanne" (named after a character from the play "Cyrano de Bergerac," a lasting mark of Sting's previous gig as an English teacher), a more reggae and pop-friendly track, talks frankly about a prostitute putting on the "red light." Interestingly, the inspiration for this track came about when Sting saw risque-dressed women outside his hotel in Paris, France.
Another more radio-friendly song from the album, "Can't Stand Losing You" carries a more upbeat tone despite the fact that it's a track about suicide. Strange, yes, but Sting delivers it in a way that makes it feel interestingly optimistic. "Truth Hits Everybody" is yet another, notable fast-tempo song featuring a gong in the bridge.
Overall, "Outlandos d'Amour" is what started the Police's rise to stardom. Featuring Copeland's syncopated drumming, Summer's reggae riffs and Sting's unique vocals, it brought the band success and is sure to leave a lasting imprint in rock history. Its sound could be heard later in the music of bands like No Doubt.
There is also a unique, Punk energy to this record that personifies a band that is hungry and looking to be known. This is The Police raw, years before the more polished sound of mega hits like "Message In A Bottle" or the chart monster "Every Breath You Take."
So pick up a copy of "Outlandos d'Amour" in vinyl, or download it, take a trip back in time and immerse yourself in the sound that defined the early 1980s.