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The Police - Ghost in the Machine (1981)
Bandleader and primary songwriter Sting drew inspiration from the work of Hungarian author Arthur Koestler for this fourth release, keeping the reggae tinges and interest in world music, whilst adding keyboards and saxophones. The best-known track is the number one record "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" which confirmed the status of The Police as one of the biggest pop groups in the world. Sting has a confident and distinctive vocal presence and keeps the bass lines tight whilst drummer Stewart Copeland is effortlessly adept at poly-rhythms and Andy Summers provides jazz influenced textures on guitar and keyboard. The Police's sound admirably fuses traditional rock and roll with more of an international flavour on tracks such as "Demolition Man" whilst still being infused by the sensibilities of the punk movement that had overtaken the British music scene around the cusp of the decade. The fifth record sold more units and fame and money would see the band implode, launching Sting into orbit as a solo star and tree-hugger extraordinaire, but it's hard to fault this recording which catches the band at the height of their powers.
"Spirits in the Material World" - 2:59
The busy bass line establishes itself insistently early and keyboards chime as Sting intones his words. Sting takes himself kind of seriously but he keeps it together with some nice phrasing. This track has a great sound. The Police definitely have a band defining style, but they experiment more later on. Maybe that's to their credit, but this early one is much more successful. It brings unity to their influences making them their own. An assured performance...
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" - 4:22
One of the band's world conquering anthems this song has been well known to radio listeners everywhere since 1981. Deservedly so...
"Invisible Sun" - 3:44
The sombre lead in of the vocals is nicely done and the beat is intriguing to start with. The chorus lets the song down a bit and the guitar solo is a bit silly. By the end the keyboards have grown too big and sound like they ought to be sparser. A bit of a lull after the first two tracks but doesn't lose too much momentum.
"Hungry for You (J'aurais Toujours Faim de Toi)" - 2:52
Not as cheerful as the hit single and Sting decides to sing it in French. Pretentious, moi? The faint wah wah guitar and the saxophone hook get very repetitive after a while.
"Demolition Man" - 5:57
Bass and guitar trend towards the sleazier side of the tracks here and get the record back on course. It's a catchy, funky slow jam that rises in tempo. The brass section and the vocal are nice.
"Too Much Information" - 3:43
This has a laid back bass line at the heart as jazz keyboards and sax billow in the space around, although it's easy to imagine the simple lyric as the core of a punk song. The message is to keep things simple.
"Rehumanize Yourself" - 3:10
The opening beat and riff is somewhat redolent of Mrs Robinson, but that subsides eventually. What follows could be a Paul Simon country and western song though, with shades of Paul McCartney singing the chorus to Get Back. The musical arrangement is a mash up of styles and there feels to be a conflict between the sounds of the urban and the rural, represented by the swagger of jazz and the roots of rock and roll.
"One World (Not Three)" - 4:47
Stylistically this song is anchored somewhere off the coast of a Caribbean island. The easy bass drives Sting's one world message and the drumbeat is stiff and insistent.
The guitars conjure a slightly avant-garde texture at times and there's an air of futurism in the present day to this one. It's got a quick rubber rhythm at times but chugs at others. Sting uses lots of backing loops to echo his trailing vocals.
"Secret Journey"- 3:34
Perhaps the journey suggested by the sounds is a railroad sailing through space. Sting's lyrics have a slightly mystic tone to them. Melodically this one doesn't quite tie together so the song feels a bit too much like a sermon on some levels. The futurism of the production is clean but hasn't aged especially fashionably.
This one's a bit of a dirge.
The record actually falls apart quite a lot in the last sequence of songs. But the stronger stretch of tunes from the start is sufficient. It's a good record, but most people will probably want their Greatest Hits.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Spirits In The Material World
2 Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
3 Invisible Sun
4 Hungry For You
5 Demolition Man
6 Too Much Information
7 Re-Humanise Yourself
8 One World (Not Three)
10 Secret Journey
12 Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic