Friday, October 13, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 32: The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta

Album - Zenyatta Mondatta
Artist - The Police
Key Players - Sting (bass and vocals), Andy Summers (guitars), Stewart Copeland (drums)
Produced by - The Police and Nigel Gray

Release Date - October 3, 1980

What caused the dust blow off? - I read recently that Sting was going to release a new album of 12th Century Lute music or something...I had to go back to what once made him relevant and cool.

the album still won two two grammyawards

Overview - This was the third album released by the Police. The album, often regarded as one of the finest from the band, was recorded in a short period of time and the members have gone on to say it was not their best work as it was "very rushed". Even with this, the album won 2 Grammy Awards and contains many Police "staples".

FDF Comments (aka the songs) Leading off with "Don't Stand So Close to Me" a song Sting had written that reflected on his time as a teacher. The perfect album opener that is a great launching point for the record. "Driven To Tears" starts with Copeland rat-at-tatting on the snare and then some ride cymbal work. Sting lays down a basic but smooth bass while Summers tosses in the classic "chiming guitar sound" "When the World is Running Down you make the Best of What's Still Around" follows. We are three songs in and so far these are all "best of" album collection worthy. The guitar work is never complicated with the songs but perfect none the less. Sting finds his groove and pushes the song "Canary in a Coalmine" this would be the silliest name for a song on the record had there not been "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". The rapid fire lyrics and overall musicianship make this song one of the album standouts. On a rare occasion this song finds itself on the radio it gets turned up and a good sing along ensues."Voices in my Head" is considered to be an instrumental track but the band does repeat the song titled. This is really an amazing track when you get down to it, Copelands work on the drum kit are awe inspiring. His fills are just so over the top but perfect for the track, listen what he does after the "cha cha" chorus part...goose bumps. "Bombs Away" continues Copeland's magnificent drum work. The simple guitar work yet urgent vocal attack give the song some punch. "De Do do Do Do, De Da Da Da" follows, and as noted has a rather silly name. "Hey lets just sing this and call it the same!" How do people get away with this. "Behind my Camel" is another instrumental written by Andy. Sting didn't care for the song at all and didn't want to play on it. Andy convinced Stuart to record it with out Sting. The track actually ended up winning the band a Grammy award for "best instrumental". It is really not a very interesting track when you get down to it."Man in a Suitcase" follows and the band shows some "island feel". They had recorded a series of albums on the island of Mont Serrat. The guitar riff recalls a feel and sound from a Bob Marley record. Sting sings a little out of his range on this track hearkening back to the higher chorus' from "Roxanne"."Shadows in the Rain" is not an overly exciting track. It really doesn't have the "hooks" we have been used to getting from this record. The album concludes with "The Other Way of Stopping" which is the third instrumental on the record.

Where are they now? The band never formally broke up, but in 1984 each member went off to do their own thing. Sting
has gone on to release a series of solo albums. Each more pretentious than the last..his upcoming album is going to be lute "works".
Stewart Copeland has worked in film scores as well as side projects "Animal Logic" and Oysterhead. He has recently started a new band called Gizmo. Andy Summers has also done movie score work, released 10 solo albums, and still plays an occasional live show. The band did a quick "reunion" in 1986 for Amnesty International. In 2003 the band was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Copeland hit the drums so hard that night he broke the head of his snare drum. That drum head is now on display at the Rock Hall. Finally, in 2006 Steward Copeland released Everyone Stares a movie he made on super 8 video while in the Police.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the live experience) - Another band I was a little too young to see. My oldest brother saw them on the Syncronicity Tour at Foxboro Stadium. This was their final tour. I have seen Steward Copeland as part of Oysterhead.

FDF Overall Take - The critics loved this record and it is a terrific record start to finish. It holds up well now being 26 years old and it plays almost like a "best of". There are many great tracks that are easy to digest for the newest of fans. When you listen to this record its easy to see how amazing all three members are. Personally I find that Stuart really is the 8 armed drummer and he drives this band to great places. They really were and are a super group.
A terrific pick to start off any Police collection.


At 10:28 AM, Blogger Sharon S said...

My spin cycle from 2 weeks ago included When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around and Next To You....good stuff. When I went back and listened to the Police, I quickly remembered what I liked about them in the early days - the 2:30 - 3:00 minute fast, driving, ska/regaee/punk inspired tunes.
Good pick March!!!

At 4:22 PM, Blogger pog mo thoin said...

March -

I loved the Police more than I loved myself back in the day. Actually, you gave me something to post about today so well done to you!

As far as the music is concerned - they still are one of the most intelligent, complex bands, of the 80's. I went to see them on the Synchronicity tour but I think that this album was a break through for them. I loved it and I truly thing your assessment of the tracks are spot on!

You are on a roll for me man!

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Trish said...

This was one of my fav's...and it is still cool enough for my teenage boys to listen to now.

Good pick!

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Hotwire said...

great post, and i echo pog's comments with regard to my love for this band.

copeland was the heart and soul and was one of the best drummers i've ever heard. if you can put aside the dreck he puts out now, sting was a great frontman with an amazingly interesting voice.

i love most of the songs and the lyrics of 'canary in a coalmine' are my favorite.


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