We pick up where we left off, covering the first three albums from British pop trio The Police, here’s 1980’s ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: The Police
ALBUM: Zenyatta Mondatta
SERIAL: AMLH 64831
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Gordon Sumner (Sting) – lead vocals, bass * Andy Summers – guitars * Stewart Copeland – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Don’t Stand So Close To Me * 02 Driven To Tears * 03 When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around * 04 Canary In A Coalmine * 05 Voices Inside My Head * 06 Bombs Away * 07 De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da * 08 Behind My Camel * 09 Man In A Suitcase * 10 Shadows In The Rain * 11 The Other Way Of Stopping
WEBLINK: Site Link
We pick up where we left off, covering the first three albums from British pop trio The Police. As written elsewhere, the band were a highly visible entity in the 70’s/80’s music industry, both in the press and on radio/TV. They mostly carved up the territory in the new wave genre, but spilled over into mainstream pop.
It’s an intriguing overview from the Glory Daze perspective because they are not a perfect fit for this site, but beyond the first three albums (‘Outlandos D’Amour’, ‘Reggatta De Blanc’ and this one ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’) musically they became more interesting.
The album title is a mashup of foreign language words which in itself doesn’t point to a theme or anything, but the two words became memorable in pop culture in later years. The eleven track set featured two bonafide hit singles ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ which 41 years later could’ve been the theme song for the global 6 metre social distancing rule, plus the daft and unimaginatively titled ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’. This out does Journey and their similarly corny titled track ‘La Do Da’ from 1978’s ‘Infinity’.
Like the previous two albums, ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’ is populated by tracks that fuse new wave, art rock and reggae. The musical delivery is quite sparse, the production kept lean and dry. It’s an acquired taste for some, but in 1980 this sound was prevalent. You hear it on tracks such as ‘Driven To Tears’, the zany ‘Canary In A Coalmine’ and the quirky ‘Man In A Suitcase’.
It’s hard to make sense of the elongated title of ‘When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around’, though musically it has its moments. I liked the instrumental funky vibe of ‘Voices Inside My Head’ while the second instrumental ‘Behind My Camel’ will either grab you or it won’t. In my case it didn’t.
Two songs received awards at the 1982 Grammys (this album was released on 3rd October 1980). ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ won best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal, while ‘Behind My Camel’ won best rock instrumental performance. Goes to show I don’t know much about anything huh? Lol. The album sold big numbers throughout 1981, but of more significance, no album by this trio ever made its way into my record collection. Why was that?
Don’t Stand So Close To Me
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
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[Smokey] I’ve got a greatest hits CD in my collection. I haven’t listened to it for years and this review prompted me to go and see where it sits among the six stacks of about 80 each. It didn’t take long to find. The album is third from the bottom of its stack, down there with albums by the likes of Terence Trent D’Arby and Gloria Estefan And The Miami Sound Machine. I think it’s the reggae and Sting’s new age schtick that kills the band for me. If there’s two forms of music that turn my gut, it’s them. I mean if I was in a coma and you played me either of those, I’d wake up just so I could smash whatever device you were playing them on.
[Dangerzone] As George says it seems everyone was on that reggae bandwagon back in the early 80’s, Billy Joel, The Who, The Clash, Rolling Stones … a despicable infusion of sound. The Police are a band I have never bothered with, much like Rush. Of course everyone knows their hits, but outside of those I couldn’t name one song from this lot. Sting is one of those major league pretentious bums who makes you sick, joining the likes of Bono or Roger Waters.
Yes guys, I hear ya. Let’s just say this was a backfilling review exercise.
[Smokey] Yeah, rock plus reggae has gotta be the worst amalgamation of musical genres going. The two are total opposites in terms of ethos and culture, put em together and you’ve got a dysfunctional sound. I’m reminded of the Whitford St. Holmes album from 81 in this respect, the third song on it, ‘Hold On’. I don’t know if my ears are stuffed or not, but I’m sure there’s a sorta reggae/calypso type thing going on throughout it. Whatever, all I know is that track always brings down my mood after the first two classics. The lyrics don’t help any either, too much sub Marley schtick about prophets, politicians and ‘the people’.
[Hadley] On the other hand, the Scorpions did Rock plus Reggae pretty well with Is There Anybody There?