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Ghost in Machine

4.5 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Dark, somber, and thematically unified as no previous album by the Police, Ghost in the Machine deals almost exclusively with the negative effects of modern political and technological culture. The only departure from this focus is "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," a perfect pop song and radio hit. Elsewhere, the album treats such issues as the hope underlying resistance to oppression, the dismissal of most of the nonindustrialized world, the daily bombardment of words and images that overload the senses, and the frequent recourse to violence for personal or political expression. The songs are presented in what are, for the Police, unusually dense, layered arrangements. Andy Summers's guitar lines are even more ethereal than usual, with Sting's bass parts bobbing in a mix seasoned with keyboards and sax and propelled by Stewart Copeland's unmistakable, idiosyncratic drumming. While Synchronicity gave the Police their greatest success with hits and videos, Ghost in the Machine is the band's best recording. --Albert Massa
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: A&M
  • ASIN: B000002GF4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,874 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Paul B on November 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Ghost in the Machine was the first Police album I owned. After 25yrs, it is still my favorite. The beginning of Secret Journey, with the building intro, would just blow my speakers apart when it kicked in!! Apparently, there was a jump in technology then, because this album seemed much more clearer and louder sounding than Zenyatta. After MTV started, the Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic video was on every hour. Sting, Andy, and Stewart seemed so "happy" in that video. That was part of the reason I got into them. They seemed to be having a great time making music and money. Ironically, years later, I learned that they were practically breaking up then! There were so many elements like group fighting, the dark songs, Sting's divorce, a different producer (Hugh) etc. Maybe the album should have been called "Demolition Band". Strangely, thats what makes Ghost in the Machine so much more unique to me. Despite all that, a great album was born, delivering excellent music to this day.
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Format: Audio CD
For me this is a far better album than "Zenyatta Mondatta." I even prefer it over "Synchronicity." Here the band is sour, relaxed, & robust. Some of their previous work seemed a little forced, but with these songs they appear to gel. I'll only focus on four of them. "Spirits In The Material World," is a cutting testament to the shallow material things that many view as essential to their momentary contentment. The reggae feel enlivens the somber mood. "Everything She Does Is Magic," is a spunky love song with a soaring bridge. "Invisible Sun," here Sting is at his sardonic best. His matter of fact voice blended well with Copeland's strong percussion & Summer's echoing chords. This is one of the few anti-war anthems I have ever liked. "Omegaman," is a good rocker with Andy Summer's standing out.
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Format: Audio CD
As a Professional musician and a long time fan of The Police, I'm getting a little sick and tired of all the reviews focusing almost entirely on the lyrics with their symbolism and their socio-political message, etc...

Apart from token lines like: "With airy but moody synths and keyboards...", there's simply no reference at all to Andy Summers' incredibly ingenious and unique guitar playing with all its different colours and textures, his imaginative use of rhythm as well as his unforgettable riffs.

No mention of Stewart Copeland's breath-taking playing. The drumming that influenced a whole generation...

Nor is there any mention of Sting. Yes, he is a master song-writer but what about his instruments? He would have to be one of the most underrated bass players in the history of good music. As a bass player I've always admired his warm sound and his thoughtful playing. He's supportive and mostly sparse without ever being boring and possesses tonnes of tasty-ness. And what can we say about his voice?! Simply an amazing voice. A rich, totally unique tone that's instantly recognizable, combined with beautiful melodic ingenuity. And, when informed by Sting's tremendous musicality, it makes for some of the most heart-felt singing in all of popular music.

It is not my intention to ignore lyrics or their meaning. I love good lyrics as much as anyone else and I am fully aware that for a song to be a 'good song', it has to have both great lyrics and great music working in harmony. All I'm simply saying is that to concentrate exclusively on lyrics (brilliant as they might be) and to ignore the musician's/producer's contributions to the overall creation of a song is to basically relegate music's role to simply background filler. Like a movie soundtrack or a boring one-bar-loop repeated ad-nauseam in a bad Rap song.

The members of The Police deserve much more than that.
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Format: Audio CD
The Police were predominantly a singles band; whilst every album contains at least several well-known singles or album tracks, each also has a certain amount of filler. Here's a test: remove the best 5 tracks from each album and see how the remainder sounds. In my opinion, 'Regatta' and 'Synchronicity' come off poorly with lots of filler, 'Outlandos' is OK, 'Zenyatta' is a creditable second, but the easy winner is 'Ghost'; I believe it has very little music that could be called filler.

A number of reviewers have panned the middle section of 'Ghost', but to my ears it lends the album a cohesive energy and groove lacking on the other albums. Sure, those middle tracks are a bit repetitive, but so is James Brown! It's the sound of the Police trying, with varying success, to add a bit of funk'n'groove and early eighties eurodance to their white reggae and pop/rock. There was a sense of burning ambition in many of the releases of that era and this is no exception. Yes, it can be a dark and sometimes sombre listen, perhaps in places its grasp exceeds its reach, but give me an exciting failure over a dull success any day. Also, of all of the Police's albums, 'Ghost' has matured best with age; twenty-plus years later it still sounds fresh and involving.

For me, a good album should be one that flows from start to finish without my attention wandering, where I feel no inclination to skip tracks, where each song is framed by the others and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For me, 'Ghost' is one of those albums, and I never seem to tire of it.
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