POLICE: EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE
Reviewed April 28th, 2003 by Brian White
Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, The Police, have finally hit the DVD medium. Does anyone care? Hell yeah! The Police kick so much ass, and itís great to see them finally release some of their material on DVD. Every Breath You Take is a collection of videos, and basically a greatest hits package. A concert film would have been more welcome, but manager Miles Copeland hints that there will be more Police on DVD in the near future. Because these are music videos from the late seventies and early eighties, the video quality is not great. The real stars on this disc are the sound, and the extras.
Johnny Rotten once said that his favorite punk band would be Joe Strummer and 10 guys he hated. Well, that hate energy was certainly present in the Police. There was always tension, and it was evident in band interviews of the time. The Police were formed in the late seventies during the Punk movement. Both Sting and Stewart Copeland were playing in bands that were anything but Punk. They decided to harness the energy of the movement, and dumb down their musical ability in favor of more energy. Andy Summers joined the band, replacing their lesser guitarist. Copelandís brother Miles was managing ďrealĒ punk bands, and despite some ďreverse nepotism,Ē according to Sterwart, got the band signed by A &M. Roxanne, from the first album, was a modest hit. By the time the band released its third album, 1980ís Zenyatta Mondatta, they were pretty much at the top of the charts, and their game. The wildly successful Ghost in the Machine (1981) and Synchronicity (1983), were uber-icing on an already big fat cake. In 1984, Sting decided he neednít put up with the shit anymore, skipped the scene following the Synchronicity tour, at the height of the bandís success.
Every Breath You Take is an interesting chronicle of the bandís rise to world domination. The growing quality of the videos charts the rise of the medium. When the Police started out, people just listened to music. When the Police disbanded, MTV was at the top of its cultural dominance. The early videos are hilariously cheap. The spontaneous ďSo Lonely,Ē video, from the Police Around the World documentary (fingers crossed for a DVD release), is a great example of the bandís early video production values.
How is the video? Pretty sad. Itís all videotape, and old video tape at that. Even the later videos, with higher production values, look surprisingly soft. You get everything in 4:3. It is probably as good as any of this stuff has looked. Hereís the thing: you are not buying this disc for the videos. You are buying it for the sound, and for the extras.
And for the sound? A few years ago, a DTS CD of Every Breath You Take: The Singles was released. All tracks were remixed in 5.1 surround. Somebody had the foresight to release the DVD with the remixed audio tracks. Lucky us! The mixes are very cool and very well done for the most part. You can listen in stereo, but itís mixed down from the 5.1 mix. If you want stereo, listen to the CD. If you want surround, get this disc because you get the videos as a bonus. Both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 mixes of the songs are on the disc. The effect of the remixing, for the most part, is the addition of space: the songs are opened up. More low end would have been nice, but the sound is quite good. While it could be argued that certain mixes are a little gimmicky, but it isnít the end of the world. In other cases, such as with Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, you can hear sounds that were not evident in the stereo mix.
What about the extras? The best is the 45-minute Police in Montserrat, which the BBC showed in the early eighties. This was Squeezeís Jools Holland (The Tube, Later), interviewing the band at George Martinís studios on the then island paradise. The Police were recording Ghost in the Machine, and they were quite willing to share their song-writing techniques, as well as demonstrate their musical skill. To the music geeks among us, this is fascinating. Also, the documentary has been coveted by Police fans for years, and is worth the price of the DVD. The bandís performance of Canít Stand Losing You and Next To You from the Old Grey Whistle Test is also included. Thatís the performance where Sting wears Stewartís huge glasses to cover up his blood shot eyes, following a hairspray disaster. Video quality on the extras, as expected, is poor. The extras do not benefit from 5.1 mixes either. The content is worth slumming through the audio and video.
Canít Stand Losing You
Message in a Bottle
Walking on the Moon
Donít Stand So Close to Me
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Spirits in the Material World
Every Breath You Take
Wrapped Around Your Finger
Donít Stand So Close to Me í86
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