Now that the workout is over I am sitting down with my new book (‘Road to Sparta‘, by Dean Karnazes), a yummy burrito bowl courtesy of my sweetheart and the ‘Ghost In the Machine’ album by The Police.
Even before I even knew who the Police were and came a-“De do do do, de da da da“-ing into my life, and long before the ‘Synchronicity‘ album (on cassette no less) ever ended up in my mailbox thanks to a forgotten response to Columbia House, I owned one of those 80’s black and white rock t-shirts with the three-quarter sleeves with the three seven-segment display-inspired graphic (said to depict the heads of the three band members, each with a distinctive hair style – from left to right, Andy Summers, Sting with spiky hair, and Stewart Copeland with a fringe) from the album cover on it.
I have no idea where I actually got the shirt but it made me feel like a bad ass.
Little did I know at the time that The Police were hardly considered as “bad ass”, but I still thought of myself as a fan nonetheless.
Yes, even though I had no idea who they were.
Of course, I would eventually figure it out thanks to FM radio and, of course, Columbia House.
So when our friend Leslie offered this album to HRH this past Christmas, it was with fondness that I recalled that shirt and my first inklings of Sting and the boys.
‘Ghost in the Machine’ is the 4th studio album by by the band (released in 1981 on A&M Records) and recorded during sessions that took place at AIR Studios in Montserrat and Le Studio in Quebec. The album reached #1 in the UK Albums Chart and #2 in the U.S. Billboard 200 and was listed at #323 in the Rolling Stone “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
Much of the material in the album was inspired by Arthur Koestler’s ‘The Ghost in the Machine’, and was actually the first Police album to bear an English-language title.
Anyway, by this time the band had more or less streamlined their sound to focus more on their pop side and less on their trademark reggae-rock. Their jazz influence had become more prominent, as evidenced by the appearance of saxophones on several tracks. The album spawned three big hits, such as ‘Spirits in the Material World‘ (where the central rhythms are played by a synthesizer instead of guitar in order to mask the reggae connection), ‘Invisible Sun‘, a tribute to those living amid the turmoil and violence in Northern Ireland circa the early ’80s and the ever popular ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic‘, which topped the U.K. singles chart and nearly did the same in the U.S. (#3). In fact, these form the big 1-2-3 punch that kick off the album.
The rest, well, not so much.
‘Hungry For You‘ is okay, but then there’s the total shipwrecks that are ‘Omegaman’, ‘Demolition Man‘, the barely containable ‘Rehumanize Yourself‘, and a pair of album-closing ballads (‘Secret Journey‘, ‘Darkness‘) that will completely waffle stomp your eardrums into total submission.
So while I’m still not overly impressed with the album, I do miss that t-shirt and if I ever see one again at a flea market or thrift shop somewhere, I’m totally picking it up.