audiotrack The Very Best Of Sting & The Police

reviewed by Jill Hill

Published in Issue No. 20 ~ January, 1999

A better title would have been Some of the Very Best of The Police and Some of the Most Maudlin of Sting, also including a Remix that Sucks. How can you have the best of The Police without “Synchronicity” or “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”? Not to mention “Tea in the Sahara” or “Wrapped Around Your Finger” or “Spirits in a Material World”? So in all honesty this is not the very best of The Police, even thought it includes such Police standards as “Walking on the Moon,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” and “Every Breath You Take.” Live, Stewart Copeland, Sting, and Andy Summers, infuse such songs as “Walking on the Moon” with rough energy and the lust of new love. The particular version used on the very best is as dry as a Sunday School song.

More distressing than the Police songs are the songs by Sting as a solo artist. It begins with that wussy “Englishman in New York” and includes the obsolete “Russians.” Sting considers this his best? Then he puts on his idealized love songs. Love songs seem to be the downfall of Sting. He wrote better love songs when he was obsessed, pissed off, and in pain – “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Roxanne.” In his blissed out state with Trudy, he has he come up with “Fields of Gold” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.” (Yes, I know it was a good video.)

Happiness is okay, but it does not necessarily make for good love song writing. There is no tension in either song – not in the lyrics or the music or his voice. It is not that I don’t like Sting. I love him. I waited five hours to get front row seats at an outdoor concert. He’s the shit! At least, he was. So what I found most heinous is the inclusion of Roxanne 97 – Puff Daddy Remix. This song made me physically unwell. The Remix perverts Roxanne from being about people in vastly different circumstances making a rare connection to a fucked up song about a ho. Puffy throws in a silly rap: Shake what your mama gave you is her motto. . . Red-light special. / Red-light special. He even samples Kool and the Gang.

Since breaking with Copeland and Summers (neither of whom are even mentioned on this CD), Sting has reinvented himself as a stylish country gent with a beautiful wife and beautiful children. In essence he has become the man in “Synchronicity”:

If you act
as you think
The missing link

If you are interested in The Police or Sting, you’d do better to check out The Police Live.

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Jill Hill lives with some kids, some dogs, writes, and manages a restaurant where she tries out her new CD's. She listens to a variety of music, from Classical to Blues, but tries to stay away from most rap. In her words: "I am always on the look out for a new band or singer/songwriter that I will like. I like a CD that does not grow old and weary sounding, which mean I don't want buy a CD that can be found on the used CD sale table a month later. One of my favorite CD's is Neal Young's Everyone Knows this is Nowhere. My favorite writer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and my favorite novel of his Of Love and Other Demons. X-Files is about the only TV I watch. I do not watch sitcoms and do not like music inspired by sitcoms. I'd rather listen to a sampled rap version of the Jetsons theme song."