Wednesday, 2 November 2016

"Outlandos d'Amour" by THE POLICE [feat Sting] (2003 A&M Records 'Enhanced CD' - Bob Ludwig Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"…Outlaws Of Love…" 

Ah The Police - what a stormingly good little band they were – especially at the outset. I can recall hearing the Side 1 opener "Next To You" of their debut LP for the first time – a sort of cross between Rock and New Wave – old yet new – yet excitingly fresh and immediate. 
And it turned out that most of the album was cut from the same song-winning cloth. 

Wish I could say the same about this barebones 2003 CD reissue/remaster - it sounds brill for sure but not much else. Here are the badges of honour...

UK released January 2003 (March 2013 in the USA) - "Outlandos d'Amour" by THE POLICE on A&M 493 652-2 (Barcode 606949365226) is an 'Enhanced CD' Remaster that plays out as follows (38:26 minutes):

1. Next To You
2. So Lonely
3. Roxanne
4. Hole In My Life
5. Peanuts
6. Can't Stand Losing You [Side 2]
7. Truth Hits Everybody
8. Born In The 50's
9. Be My Girl - Sally
10. Masoka Tanga
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album "Outlandos d'Amour" - released November 1978 in the UK on A&M Records AMLH 68502 and in the USA on A&M Records SP-4753. Produced by The Police - it peaked at No. 6 in the UK and No. 23 in the USA.

BONUS TRACK: Roxanne 'Video'

The gatefold slip of paper that pretends to be an inlay tells us the basics - Remaster by BOB LUDWIG (very good news) - but has nothing else for a so-called 'Enhanced' Edition. There's a ton of fan memorabilia from the period that could have been used - the British singles could have been pictured (where are those non-album B-sides as bonus tracks) - the impact of Sting and the band on the girlies of the world - but nothing is here except a Video that most won't look at. There's a photo of the boys beneath the see-through CD tray but bugger all else apart from the wickedly good audio (docked a star for the cheapo approach)...

Made on a shoestring - the album's audio belies its cheapo ramshackle recording process. It rocks and the BOB LUDWIG Remaster has only amplified that. In fact by the time you get to "Hole In My Life" (when you've been wowed by "So Lonely" and the breakthrough single "Roxanne")  - you're already lining up Outlaws Of Love as one of 'the' great debut albums. Styles crossover - Reggae - British Punk and New Wave - Rock. But it's never anything less than economical and Sting's songwriting brilliance has to be acknowledged just as much as the sheer dynamic they had as a Power Trio. With Sting on Bass and Lead Vocals (Gordon Sumner) - the brilliant Andy Summers on Guitar and American Stewart Copeland whacking those drums with such razor-sharp precision - The Police were lean and mean and had the zippy tunes to prove it.

I'd forgotten about that stunning and wild guitar solo from Summers in "Peanuts" - a staggeringly angry song about posers ("...don't want to hear about the drugs you're taking...") - or that genius piano introduction and backbeat in the amazing and infectious "Hole In My Life". And then they hit you with the genius of "Can't Stand Losing You" - those fabulous words and that 'dance on the spot' beat that hooks in and won’t let go. I can vividly recall dancefloors and even discos playing this brill little bopper and the crowd going nuts as Sting sings "...and you'll be sorry when I'm dead and all this guilt will be on your head..." That's the thing about great bands and songs - they hook into a collective - a feeling everyone knows - and as much as it was funny to hear - it was also a tad too close to the knuckle for many. The audio on "Truth Hits Everybody" is fantastic and again most will have forgotten just how damn catchy it is (that Summers and Copeland combo playing up a blinder). The last three "Born In The 50's", "Be My Girl - Sally" and "Masoko Tanga" are good but not up to what went before.

As I write in November 2016 - we're only two years away from November 2018 when The Police's debut album “Outlandos d'Amour" is 40 years old. Not 20 nor 30 but 40! Where has the time gone? And yet it still feels fresh as a newly minted Donald Trump bankruptcy (God help us all).

Available for somewhere between three and five quid - this is a beginner’s punt you need. There's a "Hole In My Life" without it...

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