Sound: Containig the Police's most upbeat and most reggae influenced album in their collection, this album runs neck and neck with Regatta de Blanc as my favourite Police album. Boosting a flashing scrapbook like cover and inlay, the colours tell you might not survive this ride. This was the 'Revolver' for the Police, the final push before moving into genius. The quality of the sound is cheap but this really improves it (no offence to anyone who bought the S.A.C.D.), the album was rushed before the Police were about to tour Africa and needed another album.The Police were an extremely talented three piece, and similar to Eastern art, what is not played in this album is as good as, what is. The Police sound is spacious (mostly due to Andy Summer's heavily reverbed guitar), and Andy Summers really knew when to play and when not to play. His use of Ninth and Suspended chords along with a lot of echo help generate a sound that is very underrated and something the punks could never have pulled off.
Outlandos d'Amour was the best album for Stewart Copeland's drumming, he has learned to slow down and his technical drumming (removing the snare drum from 4/4 rock drumming) use the snare drums allot, but, as always, he plays as crazily as his hair. He ends ever song with every snare drum going. When the Police plated live, Copeland would often the improvise drum solos to fill time in their short shows. The album contains no drum fills, but we do hear Copeland playing double bass in the punky instrumental 'The Other Way of Stopping'. Sting chooses his bass style because it is the easiest to sing to, but the grooves he plays are almost showing off, though not as 'Driven To Tears' is a great song, Sting chooses his bass style because it is the easiest to sing to, but the grooves he plays are almost showing off, though not as technical as Entwhistle or even McCartney in the latter years, it is complicated in it's simplicity.
The light and refreshing 'Canary In a Coalmine' shows Summer's first obvious multi-tracking, in fact this is the ONLY obvious multi-tracking. The reggae-chopping chords are layered with a fun-bass-line and a speedy guitar line, before you could only hear little multi-tracked guitars in the fade-outs ('Message In a Bottle' and 'Every Breath You Take'). This song also shows the first piano solo in a Police song and the first all the way through multi-tracked vocals from Sting. It's obvious they were using an eight-track. The No.1 from the album is 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' the opening of the album and I first heard this on the greatest hits. I thought it would be another cheesy 'When WE Dance' kinda song, boy was I wrong. Even the video was pretty O.T.T. (Sting pulls off his shirt at the end and Andy Summers gets on his knees for the 'solo'). The song is well worth listening to.
My favourite song on the album is 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', the guitar in incredible, a mixture of major and ninth chords it sounds simple but is not for the beginner. However, this song is my favourite because of the video. It's a real Christmassy video and shows the worst bass mining in the world. The appreigos in the verse are unusual and I can't find a good tab anywhere for them. 'Man In A Suitcase' is my second favourite, the solo is unusual because it's not in key and has no relevance to any rhythm within the verse. This is highly reggae influenced with the best drumming on the album. It should have been a single but wasn't, and like songs like 'Peanuts' and 'Next To You' these tracks dissolve into writing on the back of the album and are always skipped in favour of the hits.
One song that really impressed me was 'When the World Is Running Down You Make The Best f What's Still Around', this is the only song on the album that could follow 'Driven To Tears'. It draws on suspended chords on the offbeat, but what really stands out is something extremely rare in seventies, a bass solo. Worst song on the album has to be 'Voices Inside my Hide'. It has one line. A good instrumental that needs some good lyrics to turn it into a song instead of a jam, but like most Police album, there is at least one obvious filler. // 10
Lyrics: As always, Sting writes the majority of the material, Andy Summers only wrote an instrumental on this album. While Copeland writes the twisted tale of dirty minded trigger-happy generals: 'The general scratches his belly and thinks/his pay his good but his company stinks/a girl tall and sweet/the general would love to meet/bombs away! '. As for Sting is writing, well, this was the person who wrote 'Don't know how I get through the night/I made love to my pillow but it didn't feel right.' However, he is influenced by the writings of Nabakov in the opening track, the book told the story of an older man having a relationship with a young girl. In the song however it is the story of a young pupil trying to seduce her handsome teacher: 'Young teacher, the subject/of schoolgirl fantasy/she wants him so badly/knows what she wants to be/inside her there's longing/this girl's an open page/book marking - she's so close now/this girl is half his age.'
The theme of the album gets lighter after the first three tracks, with the song 'Canary In a Coalmine' a gimmicky feel-good reggae tune about a friend telling his friend about a problem that we face in this age, the need to constantly rely of presriction drugs when there's nothing wrong with us. 'If I told you that you suffer from dissulion/you'd pay your doctor to reach the same conclusion/you live your life ike a canary in a coalmine/you get so dizzy even walking in a strait line.' I don't think anyone can really under the lyrics of 'Do Do Do Da Da Da', you've probably guessed the problem already, but even the verse is unusual, 'Don't think me unkind/words are hard to find/the only cheques I've left unsigned/Are to the banks of chaos in my mind/when the el-oquence escapes me/their logic ties me up and rapes me/de do do do do de dad a da/their innocence will pull me through.' Great melody and the lyrics fit perfectly and in the rather odd appreigos in the verse.
'Man In a Suitcase' tells the story of a rock-star on the road, 'Another key for my collection/need to rush to get my connection/I'd invite you back to my place/it's only mine because it holds my suitcase/it looks like home to me alright/but it's a hundred miles from yesterday night.' The lyrics are extremely diverse and everyone tells a story, finding fault in the way Sting uses his vocals is about as hard as finding fault in Lennon, Harrison and McCartney's three-way harmonies, or Clapton's guitar playing. As high as James Blunt he sounds like a Mexican singer singing in English. His multi-tracked vocals don't offer much variety in the sound of the vocals but his bass playing, Copeland's drumming and Summer's guitar and piano make up for it. // 10
Overall Impression: This album is as good to the ear as Revolver, though not as sleek as Sgt. Pepper's or Synchroncity it is neck-and-neck with 'Regatta de Blanc' as the best Police album. // 10