Only an accident of birth made The Police a New Wave band. Sting was a sharp, slick songwriter; Andy Summers had hung with Hendrix and strummed with Soft Machine and The Animals; Stewart Copeland had drummed in Curved Air. They were true musos: in another era, they’d have made Steely Dan-like sophisto-pop.

Yet they formed at the height of punk in 1977 and so here they were, spiky-haired, peroxide and attitudinal, surfing the New Wave to Top Of The Pops. They also became one of the very best, slickest pop groups to emerge from the post-punk era.

This definitive 11LP boxset collects their five studio albums on half-speed remastered vinyl and chucks in a disc of bonus material. The 1978 debut Outlandos D’Amour is a reminder of just how The Police arrived fully formed: So Lonely and Roxanne were immaculate pop-reggae gems.

Every album they released thereafter went to No.1. 1979’s Reggatta De Blanc was an embarrassment of riches, with Message In A Bottle and Walking On The Moon having melodies to burn and hooks as sharp as Sting’s cheekbones.

The Police made pop look easy. By 1980’s Zenyatta Mondatta, they were at their peak, able to unfurl both the tensile, ska-fuelled power-pop of Driven To Tears and the genuinely moving psychological drama of Don’t Stand So Close To Me. Yet they also had an edge: the video for 1981 single Invisible Sun from the Ghost In The Machine album reused news footage from the Irish Troubles and was banned by the BBC for being too political.

Sting, Summers and Copeland shared pop smarts, ferocious ambition and a work ethic that meant they never let standards slip. They went out at the top: spawning yearning stalkers’ anthem Every Breath You Take, 1983’s Synchronicity topped the chart in the US. The Flexible Strategies bonus disc has selected B-sides from 1978’s Dead End Job to 1983’s Once Upon A Daydream. It was easy to take The Police for granted: Every Move You Make is a salutary reminder of what master craftsmen they were.

Review: The Police: Every Move You Make: The Studio Recordings

Written by Ian Gittins. Released on UMC.


Read more: Review: Nile Rodgers & Chic: It’s About Time


*this review contains affiliate links