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Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Police: Every Breath You Take: The Classics -- Part II

Hello... nice of you to stop by. Thank you for reconvening at this retro review. To reiterate, I felt that this particular album, being 14 songs in length deserved a two week coverage period (much to the chagrin of some people). But it's like my teachers told me... "when you're the teacher you can do what you want". I feel the same principal is applied to this review. Without any further introduction or disclaimer, I give you, part II.

The eighth track we have to cover is titled "Invisible Sun". It's stranger than a lot of other songs on this album but that is part of what makes it so unique. It is much darker in content and sound as well. One of the elements of this song that I find so appealing is the use of synthesized music. So often you hear bad synthesized 80's music that makes you want to rip your ears off, but in the tasteful-ness that is all things The Police, this is nicely done. In fact, the synthesizer is used to completely enhance the chorus (my favorite part of the song). Vocally, you could pick it out of a crowd of songs as Sting, so it's nothing too new, but musically, I find it to be a refreshing change from it's previous song, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". I feel like "Spirits In The Material World" is a little more traditionally them. It has that same quirkiness that can be found in other songs on this album, particularly songs like, "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". It's upbeat with odd lyrics and hints of dissonance. However, even with that sense of familiarity, it is one of my least favorites. By no means, is it bad, but it's a song which I had to listen to multiple times before I could recall anything about it. In my opinion, it's just not as memorable as some other, more noteworthy tracks.

What can be said about "Every Breath You Take" other than, it's so good it's the album's namesake. In fact, this song is so great that it's not only the cat's meow, but apparently Diddy's too (formerly known as "Puff Daddy"). It's a truly romantic song that make girls swoon over the musical manliness that is Sting. But what's in it for men you ask? Well, for starters, it's lyrically a great song that everyone can appreciate. Listeners of all ages know that this song is relateable and singable. I personally cannot recall the last time I heard this song and didn't lay down a few vocals myself. Music-wise, "Every Breath You Take" is equally nice with it's recognizable guitar riffs and steady beats. By far, the best feature of this song is the vocals. They are in completely perfect pitch and the high quality to them has that extra "umpf" that can keep even the most distracted person hanging on by a thread. It's a brilliant song, and though definitely overplayed and overcovered, one thing it is not, is overrated. The next track, "King of Pain" has been played on virtually every mix radio station known to man, yet it baffles me. It's not one of their biggest hits, nor do I think it's one of the best, yet it gets more airplay than some of their better songs, namely, "Don't Stand So Close To Me" or "Message In A Bottle". It's catchy enough, but there is really nothing too spectacular about it other than the mostly memorable chorus. This one probably takes the cake as my least favorite. Vocally, it's not bad, but for the most part, I feel like it's below their skill level; especially during the verses when only two notes are being banged out at a time, repeatedly. After a while, it all begins to sound the same, except for the end in which he proclaims that he'll "always be King of Pain".

"Wrapped Around Your Finger" is a nice song that resembles some of their other ones however, in this instance, familiarity works to their advantage. While you're not likely to remember the actual lyrics to the verses of this song, the chorus lyrics "I'll be wrapped around your finger" will stay with you long after the song has ended. In my mind, that's one of the traits of successful music. The keyboard/synthesizer is heavily featured in this track which helps to leave a bigger, more lasting impression on the brain. I'm sure that many readers of this review will actually prefer the last track ("King Of Pain") to "Wrapped Around Your Finger", but in the end, I feel like it boils down to the difference of forgetting a track and remembering another. This one is definitely more memorable.

The last two features on the album, "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and "Message In A Bottle" are both remixes of their originals. This concept has failed several artists including Ace of Base and Snow (granted they both suck anyway), but I feel in this instance, it doesn't fail, but it doesn't score huge bonus points either. "Don't Stand So Close To Me '86" is what I like to call my "Flight of the Navigator" track. I don't know if you have had the privilege of seeing the cheesy 80's classic, but whenever I hear overly electronic music with a very packaged pop sound, I automatically envision the movie. I can let you determine your own associations, but the differences between the original and the remix are these... the remix is very much electronic, it has a completely different chorus melody, and a few subtle word changes. So The Police took one of their best songs and managed to turn it into an okay song, but in the end, it's mostly an unnecessary addition. The biggest shocker on the album is the remix of "Message In A Bottle". I have listened to it dozens of times and cannot find a single solitary difference between it and the original. I was so sure that there had to be something there, that I went searching for what other reviewers had said about the song. The only answer I found... nothing. One reviewer actually used the phrase, "all but indistinguishable from the original" and I all but have to agree. I can't find anything remotely different about the two and I have gone so far as to analyze them in sections. Therefore, I can't say anything else about the remix other than "Message In A Bottle" is good the first time and good the second time... However, if I really want to hear it again, I don't need it to be on an album twice in the exact same format. I'll just use the repeat function thanks.

All in all "Every Breath You Take: The Classics" is one of my favorite albums simply because it's a collection of greatest hits with a few changes. I would recommend this album to any fans of The Police, except for the die hard fans as they will likely already have the other albums and should just save the moola. A great album though. Hope you enjoy.

Key Tracks:
1. Roxanne
2. Message In A Bottle
3. Walking On The Moon
4. Don't Stand So Close To Me
5. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

7 out of 10 stars

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