Back in the 1980s, I sort of took The Police for granted. They had some good songs, and I never changed the station when one of those songs started playing, but I never had any desire to actually purchase any of their music. After all, there was more good music than a guy could possibly afford back in that most glorious of decades. Later on, when Sting went solo (and soft), a lot of his music really didn't appeal to me. I hadn't really thought about any of The Police's classic songs since then, not until I came across this album at a decidedly reasonable price (sort of a blue light special, you might say - even though it makes for a pretty bad joke). What is not pretty bad, though, are the classic songs in this collection.
In an industry where virtually ever singer/group sounds like someone else, The Police have always been distinct. The staccato beats driving the music, often with a uniquely reggae-influenced electronic sound, and Sting's uniquely plaintive voice make any of the group's songs instantly recognizable. At times, there's a downright ethereal quality to their music, especially in slower numbers such as Walking on the Moon and Invisible Sun, but they are at their best when delivering the more rhythmic, up-tempo, pop-oriented songs that made them so successful. I mean - you've got at least five downright iconic hits included in this collection: Roxanne, Don't Stand So Close to Me, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Every Breath You Take, and Wrapped Around Your Finger (those are my five, anyway; no doubt, some would add Message in a Bottle, King of Pain, Spirits in the Material World, and others to that list). These songs made an indelible mark on the 1980s, culturally as well as musically.
Is this the best collection of songs from The Police? Heck if I know. What I do know is that no collection of their hits could ever be considered a bad collection, and this one definitely includes all of the hits I remember listening to back in the 1980s. I can't say I care too much for the strangely-named De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da or the 1986 remix of Don't Stand so Close to Me (nor can I tell any difference between the original and mixed versions of Message in a Bottle), but everything else in this collection is timeless music that will always be a small part of me.