Monday, October 5, 2009

30 Years Ago Today: The Police release "Reggatta de Blanc"...

Reggatta de Blanc is the second album by The Police, released in 1979. "Message in a Bottle", a Sting-penned song about alienation, opens the album. It is followed by the mostly instrumental "Reggatta de Blanc" (the title being a pseudo-French translation referring to the album's style of "white reggae"), one of the few songs written by all members of the Police. The instrumental piece came from the long instrumental break in the live performance of "Can't Stand Losin' You" and earned the band the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. "It's Alright For You" is a driving punk-ish song featuring strong guitar and drum parts.

The next three tracks, "Bring on the Night" (about the execution of Gary Gilmore), "Deathwish", and "Walking on the Moon" all have a strong reggae feel to them. "On Any Other Day" features a rare lead vocal from Stewart Copeland, and is a humorous take on a middle-aged man having a horrible birthday. "The Bed's Too Big Without You" (later covered by reggae singer Sheila Hylton in 1981, which became a UK chart hit), "Contact" and "Does Everyone Stare" are three songs dealing with the connection, or lack thereof, between two individuals. The hectic "No Time This Time", originally featured as the B side of the previous year's "So Lonely" single, closes the album.

The album took only a few weeks (spaced over several months) to record, but unlike its successor Zenyatta Mondatta, there was no pressure on the band. As Stewart Copeland describes it, "We just went into the studio and said, 'Right, who's got the first song?' We hadn't even rehearsed them before we went in."

The album continued to build on the success of the band's previous record, Outlandos D'Amour, hitting #1 on the UK and Australian album charts upon its release in October 1979. "Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon" were released as singles and both reached #1 in Great Britain. In 2003, the album was ranked number 369 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Suggested listening:

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