To those whose memories are faulty (or judgment weak) on this one, the Police were a great band. Great band. They were hard-working, fame-greedy, juvenile, reasonably beau-laid, and even, for a brief formative patch, obscure. Reggae plagiarism aside, what the Police did better than anyone was take their own precious prog-rock musicianship and rack it to the limits of the three-minute pop ditty. This takes more than cheek or talent; it takes craft, and the Police were extraordinary craftsmen. But don't trust, verify: listen to "Man in a Suitcase," "Roxanne" - a perfectly executed tango, no less - "Canary in a Coalmine," "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Peanuts," "Hole in My Life," "Bed's Too Big Without You," "Regatta de Blanc" (tcha!).
Exquisitely cut little gems, one and all, and the creation, like all the best rock and roll, of multiple talents frequently at war. Before he joined the trio, Andy Summers (now an improbable 64 years old) had played guitar with everyone from Soft Machine to Neil Sedaka. Stewart Copeland, meanwhile, had started making his reputation as a visionary drummer behind the prog outfit Curved Air. Sting may have given the Police lyrics and melodies; but just as critically, Copeland, who founded the band and whose intricately manic polyrhythms define its sound, prevented Sting from impressing too much of his character on its music. Unyoked from Copeland, Sting was free to become what he is today: one-third spirit in the material world, two-thirds scented candle.