Whether you loved it or hated it, there’s no talking about 1983 without talking about the Police’s mega-smash Synchronicity, released 38 years ago last Thursday. The album even knocked Michael Jackson’s mighty Thriller off the top of the Billboard charts, a position it reached no less than 17 times.
Did I mention it was released on the 17th? Do I need to?
The album also fed into the 1983 zeitgeist by seeding the concept of synchronicity into the mass mind, even if the two songs sharing the name failed to demonstrate that Sting had even a rudimentary grasp of the concept. But that’s OK. Baby steps, right?
Synchronicity would be the last studio album the band would ever make as Sting would embark on a solo career as soon as the long and grueling tour supporting the album was over. They would later reform for an extremely lucrative victory lap in 2007, but would never record together again. Mostly because the band famously hated each other, which was mostly a function of Sting being an insufferable narcissist and Stewart Copeland being not only one of the greatest drummers ever, but also having one of the most irritating personalities in show business.
IN THE BEGINNING
The Police were one of those bands that rose up in the wake of the Punk explosion, made of journeymen musicians who were cast adrift when most of the big clubs in Britain stopped booking prog and fusion acts. They were Copeland’s project (don’t worry, we’ll get into it soon enough), as he was needing a gig after Curved Air, the prog band he was playing for at the time, got dropped from their label.
He teamed up with Gordon “Sting” Sumner, a former schoolteacher who was also finding himself with nowhere to play when clubs stopped booking fusion bands. The pair then enlisted a non-English-speaking guitarist with an intensely limited musical skillset named Henry Padovani, and went about writing and recording some very good fake punk songs.
Sadly, real punks sniffed them out as bandwagon jumpers as soon as they stepped onstage. Sting started going wobbly on the project and was enlisted to play in Mike Howlett’s (another newly-unemployed prog-rocker who later became a top New Wave producer) stab at New Wave. They make some very good fake New Wave together, but couldn’t get any label interest.
But they got Andy Summers -- a middle-aged guitar ace who'd played with a late-period version of The Animals -- out of the deal and from there it was off to the races.