The Police - Reggatta De Blanc - Review
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critics' view

Spurred on by the success of their reissued “Roxanne” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” singles from earlier in the year, the Police got deeper into their brand of reggae rock for their second long-player, right down to the descriptive album title, even if was only about 40% accurate with regards to the content. The rise and rise of Jamaica’s recently-born national music form was truly spectacular from ’68 to ’78 and now, by the end of the 70s, white reggae was becoming a new phenomenon all of its own. Mother England was naturally at the heart of the fusion, with the Clash, the Slits, the Police, Ruts, Costello and a whole string of others getting in on the act – not to mention the whole 2-Tone movement.

The Police were enormously skilful and were really able to nail down a bona-fide feeling for the genre – they could dub-out or rock-up at the flick of a snare, as light or as complex with the riddim as they felt like being. The album arrived in October ’79 just as the lead single (and opening track) “Message In A Bottle” was making its ascent to the very summit of the UK singles chart. Following that classic starter, the title-track finds the trio flexing their considerable music muscle with licks and tricks galore in their new reggae-rock style. Alas, these are the only two truly worthwhile tracks on side one which all feels a little bit “b-side” by their known standards.

This formula generally repeats on side two, with a couple of stone-classics – “Walking On The Moon” and “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” – towering above the rest. Things aren’t exactly dull mind you – it’s interesting to hear drummer Stewart Copeland take lead vocals on his own composition “On Any Other Day” and the piano-dominated “Does Everyone Stare” is at least entertaining for its restlessness, veering between cabaret, reggae and rock motifs with operatic shades thrown in for good measure! Equally unexpected is “No Time This Time” which closes the album by rocking to the max. I’m left wary…

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