The Police at their most experimental.,
This review is from: Reggatta de Blanc [Digipak] (Audio CD)
Synchronicity remains my favorite Police album. However, after listening to Regatta closely for the past month or so, I would have to say that it has replaced Ghost in the Machine as my second favorite Police album. The punk edge (and rhythms of reggae) that make their first album so much fun to listen to is still in full force on Regatta De Blanc, but here the Police begin to experiment with sounds and ideas that would take a more solid shape in the last half of their short time together.
While it still contains songs with a punk edge (such as Message in a Bottle and It's Alright for You), the band started to distance themselves more from their roots, while at the same time encorporating the spirit of it into the rhythms of their music, a technique they'd perfect towards the end on Ghost In the Machine and Synchronicity. The Police had proven that they were no strangers to experimentation with the B-Side of Outlandos D'Amour (in particular the song Be My Girl - Sally). But with their second album, the lads (in particular Sting and Stewart Copeland) really began to hone their penchant for experimenting with a song's rhythmic and lyrical content.
The title track, Regatta De Blanc, is a fantastic exercise of the former. This song in particular shows drummer Copeland's fondness for very subtly building percussion within a song, adding layer after layer as the song progresses, as well as adding or removing notes once he's established a beat. The guitar parts of Andy Summers more or less follow this fashion. Sometimes the notes are packed tightly together, and other times they are spaced out. The song ends with a nice little jam reminiscent of the chords Summers played on Message in a Bottle.
Speaking of Message in a Bottle, we've all heard that one on the radio, so I won't waste too much time with it. All I'll say is that it is a good, solid Police song, and definitely a good opener for the album. I enjoy it a lot. But it's not my favorite song on this one.
That honor would have to go to Bring on the Night, a rocking, yet reflective tune laden with a reggae-tinged rhythm guitar (overdubbed with a group of nastier licks hearkening back to the Outlandos sessions), a haunting vocal harmony made all the better by the melancholy contect of Sting's lyrics, and a disjointed drum melody loaded with punch. Copeland seems to enjoy playing with the cymbals a lot, and gets very erratic and unpredictable with them at several points on the album, but it always seems to fit with the rest of what's going on.
Stewart Copeland wrote three of the eleven songs on this one, which was more than on later albums. One of the three, Contact, is a song that one imagines could have become more well-rounded if Copeland had more time to work on it ("I've got a lump in my throat about the note you wrote/ I'd come on over but I haven't got a raincoat"). Not that it's a bad song. But probably his best moment is in the song On Any Other Day. His voice isn't as melodic as Sting's, but it only adds to the song's tragic humor, a tale about a man who has all manner of bad things happen to him on his birthday ("My wife has burned the scrambled eggs/ The dog just bit my leg/ My teenage daughter ran away/ My fine young son has turned out gay"). Of course, one doesn't realize it's his birthday until the final chorus, when the birthday song begins to intermingle with Copeland singing, "and it would be okay on any other day." All in all, it's definitely the most well-rounded of the Copeland songs on the album. As one gathers from hearing the rest of the Police's catalog, one of Sting's favorite lyrical themes is relationships. His rhyming schemes were very childish at times, but also very profound. Ironically, the best example of this from Regatta came not from Sting, but from Copeland, in the song Does Everyone Stare. It rolls out like a child's nursery rhyme ("I want to write you a sonnet, but I don't know where to start/ I'm so used to laughing at the things in my heart/ Last of all, I'm sorry 'cause you never asked for this/ I can see I'm not your type and my shots will always miss") yet at the same time it has substance as it spins a tragic tale of insecurity. But, in typical Police fashion, it's done over an upbeat reggae-flavored melody which includes piano.
Overall, this is an album loaded with raw energy, much like Outlandos D'Amour. Unlike their debut album, though, this one is primarily about incorporating new elements into their rapidly evolving sound, as well as experimenting with new themes and ideas. It's more or less the jumping-off album for the rest of the Police's history, and were it not for Synchroncity, would likely be my favorite Police album.