The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.
Police to be enshrined in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame</<p> One of my favorite rock and roll stories of all time took place at Gordon Sumner’s wedding in 1992. Sumner, better known to the world as Sting, was chanted on stage with his former band mates for a friction-filled version of their 1979 hit, “Message in a Bottle.”
Throughout the entire performance, the three men were within a split-second of throwing their instruments down and throwing fists up. There were glares and stares and curses galore. Needless to say, the tension was vibrant.
However, this angst wasn’t at all a new thing. In fact, it has always been prevalent between the three, ever since the start of the Police’s run in the late 1970s. But at that time, they shared that type of feud between brothers, not the type of feud between enemies. In the end, the same spark of anger that drove them to greatness led to an indefinite hiatus.
They were born of a generation bent on demise. The Cold War was within sight and causing people to panic world-wide; classic rock was painfully being ushered out the door; and the underground was slowly becoming the mainstream. The generation before them was growing up and trading their jeans and LPs for leisure suits and briefcases.
The three members of the Police all came from different directions when they converged upon each other in the summer of 1978. Sting was busy playing in a jazz-rock fusion band called Last Exit. Stewart Copeland was an up-and-coming percussionist out of London’s underground. Guitarist Andy Summers was busy with a mid-’70s incarnation of the Animals.
Copeland approached Sting after a show in Virginia and soon after they were playing together regularly. They later brought Summers into the mix and completed the Police’s lineup.
Together, they finished a stunningly original debut album and a short but energetic tour, and were on their way back into the studio in the summer of ’79, where they would complete what would undoubtedly become their most prized work to date in Regatta de Blanc, a culmination of their raw skill and punk emotion that would later become their trademark.
They fused reggae grooves with a deep jazz influence over this lingering -rebel aura of sonic fury that had the inertial power of a freight train to pump out such hits as “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon.” Copeland’s distinct hi-hat punches created an overpowering rhythmic wall that is to this day unmistakable. Along with Sting’s unusual and remarkable voice and Summers’ sparse guitar sound utilizing a flanger with echo, a sound he not only created by perfected, the Police were in a category all their own.
However, they weren’t without their critics, and Regatta de Blanc became their ultimate response to those who wouldn’t give them the time of day.
They were told that their sound became too corny, to which they candidly responded with the song “On Any Other Day,” where Copeland casually states ” … you want something corny? You got it,” before singing a humorous tale of a suburban nightmare. Effectively, they stuck their tongues out to their critics and the world by showing that they didn’t give a damn what anyone said.
The critics scoffed at the idea of three white British boys playing reggae. The Police responded by naming their album Regatta de Blanc, meaning “White Reggae,” in spite of criticism and, in turn, emphasized their “I’m-a-rock-star-and-isn’t-that-a-drag” attitude later popularized by Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder.
But history aside, there were arguably two factors which contributed to the sheer greatness of Regatta de Blanc. First and foremost, there has never been a group of musicians more talented than the three members of the Police. Each member was not only a perfectionist but his instruments and his own capabilities better than any other musician alive at the time. Because of this, they were all bringing aspects of their musical pasts to the table when completing their studio work. They transcended the concept of genre to a point where their music became so distinct that you couldn’t categorize it anymore.
But skill and knowledge alone didn’t take them to this peak of excellence that is displayed throughout Regatta de Blanc. In fact, it all returns to that angst people witnessed on stage that wintry wedding night in London. From the beginning, there was always this feud between the three of them which not only caused their rise but eventually their fall. There were big egos in the band, and that led to competition, which pushed the quality of the music to an incredible level. Throughout every track on Regatta you can hear each member constantly attempting to outdo the others. And because of this, they made a classic.