Saturday, November 23, 2013

outlandos d'amour

The Police channeled their musical ambitions into punk and reggae to take advantage of the new wave movement on this outlandish introduction. The trio of Stewart Andrew Copeland, Gordon Matthew Sumner (Sting), and Andrew James Summers was originally formed by Copeland (who had been in Curved Air for a brief stint) and Sting (from Last Exit) with guitarist Henri Padovani in January of 1977.  Copeland says: "I actually had the name The Police, before there was a group."  

The band was conceived to capitalize on the burgeoning punk movement.  Sting confesses: "One of the biggest influences the Sex Pistols had on me was they were destroying something which had held me back.  I was much older, a much more sophisticated musician, and a more mellow person than Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious; but I could relate to that anti-establishment feeling: the energy and aggression - hatred!"  

They toured and released one single 'FalloutNothing Achieving' on the independent Illegal label formed by Stewart's older brother and the band's manager Miles Copeland III.   It charted at number forty-seven in the UK; but, after Copeland and Sting took part in a short lived project known as Strontium 90 with Andy Summers (who had been in Soft Machine and the Animals) and Mike Howlett (of Gong), they decided to replace Padovani with Summers.  Copeland recalls:  "Mike Howlett wanted to steal my group; so I stole his group! ... [Andy] pulled me into a cafe and said, 'You guys have a great group except that you need to sack the guitarist and get a new one - me!'."

Summers asserts:  "As far as I'm concerned, The Police didn't really start until I joined."     Their first session with producer John Cale didn't go well; so Stewart got his brother Miles to put some money into studio time at Nigel Gray's Surrey Sound in Leatherhead.   The band produced the sessions that featured Sting on bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, and harmonica on "So Lonely";  Andy Summers on guitar, and spoken word and piano on "Sally"; Stewart Copeland on drums, percussion, and backing vocals;   with Joe Sinclair on piano on "Hole in My Life" and "Masoko Tanga"; and  Nigel Gray and Chris Gray as engineers.  The working title for the album was 'Police Brutality'.   When Miles heard 'Roxanne', he took it to A&M and they released it as a one-off single.  It failed to chart; but it provided the impetus for the completion of the album, which was then called 'Outlandos D'Amour', a sort of internationalist approximation of "outlaws of love".  The album eventually went to twenty-three in the US, twenty-two in Canada, fifteen in Australia, six in New Zealand and the UK, and number two in France and the Netherlands.

'Roxanne' was inspired by prostitutes that hung around the hotel the band was staying in Paris and a poster of 'Cyrano de Bergerac'  in the lobby.  According to Sting, the song includes a studio mistake:  "I was just about to sing the first line of this celebrated song when I noticed there was an upright piano next to the microphone. I was feeling tired - I'd been up all night for some reason - so I just sort of sat down. I though the piano lid was closed, but it was open, so I wound up playing this incredible chord with my ass. It was this atonal sort of cluster that went really nicely against the chords we were playing. We thought it was funny, so we left it in."   The BBC didn't approve of the subject matter and wouldn't play the song; but when it was re-released a year later, it charted at number thirty-two in the US, thirty-one in Canada, twenty-two in Ireland, nineteen in the Netherlands, twelve in the UK, and eight in France and New Zealand.

'Can't Stand Losing You' was banned over the cover art; but it still was a hit, going to forty-eight in New Zealand, nine in the Netherlands, seven in France and  Ireland, and number two in the UK.  Sting recalls:    "We had that publicity campaign with posters about how the BBC banned Roxanne. The reason they had a problem with Can't Stand Losing You was because the photo on the cover of the single had Stewart standing on a block of ice with a noose around his neck, waiting for the ice to melt."

'So Lonely' hit number twenty-six in the Netherlands, ten in France, seven in Ireland, and six in the UK.

1978 US tour

'Outlandos D'Amour'

full album:

All tracks written by Sting, except where noted. 

Side one
1. "Next to You"   2:55
2. "So Lonely"   4:50
3. "Roxanne"   3:12
4. "Hole in My Life"   4:55
5. "Peanuts" (Sting, Stewart Copeland) 4:02
Side two
6. "Can't Stand Losing You"   2:59
7. "Truth Hits Everybody"   2:55
8. "Born in the '50s"   3:45
9. "Be My Girl – Sally" (Sting, Andy Summers) 3:24
10. "Masoko Tanga"   5:42

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