Monday, January 27, 2014

Curtain Call: The Police From 1979

As the years have passed, and Sting's solo catalog has grown, it has become more and more difficult to remember all that was good about those early years of the Police, but I hope this trip to the Bottom Line in New York, circa April 4, 1979, is a reminder of the trio's punk-rock attitude. I think this would be the perfect period to see them. The band was trying out songs from its soon-to-be released sophomore album, 'Reggatta de Blanc,' and the re-released "Roxanne" was peaking on the Billboard Hot 100 (after failing to make a dent a year earlier). The fellas were a hungry unit, traveling around America in a van, making radio and record-store appearances and generally doing all of the grunt work of an indie band. Tough to imagine, isn't it?

These two songs are taken from 'Propaganda,' the same A&M sampler I highlighted last time when we checked out the Joe Jackson show. You probably know "Next to You" well. If you aren't familiar with "Landlord," which would show up as the B-side to "Message in a Bottle" later in the year, here is a great example of that punk-rock aesthetic I wrote about earlier. Check out some of the lyrics:

I don't want to rent your house from you
I don't know how you can expect me to
I ain't moving 'cause I know my rights
Too many homeless on the streets at night

You own a street and a block of flats
You earn your living like the other rats
You've no morality what do you care
You deal in poverty you buy despair

I ain't moving 'till the bailiff comes
I've got no weapons, gonna get me some
I ain't moving 'till the bailiff comes
I've got no weapons, gonna get me some

You go and call yourself a business man
You're just a parasite on Phylosan
You're just a middle-class middle-aged shit
You sold your granny for a three-penny bit

Amazing when you consider Sting now owns seven houses, including a castle, and he rents out his sprawling Tuscan estate to the jet set. Yes, he has become a landlord of sorts. Here is a review of the Police's two-night stint at the Bottom Line from a music critic at the New York Times, and if you can't find 'Propaganda' used on vinyl anywhere, I believe you can also find these two songs on 'Message in a Box.'

The Police - Landlord (Live) (mp3)
The Police - Next to You (Live) (mp3)


Echorich said...

Through sheer dint of effort, I got to see The Police tour Outlandos D'Amour in November of 78 at CBGB's (there was a guy on the door who I didn't know and even though I was there with 2 19 yr olds and a 21 yr old, he would not let me in. I had to wait for him literally take a piss break and on of the girls who did know my face to take his place to get in and high tail it to the front getting lost in the crowd. It was a blistering show.
I got to see one of the nights at The Bottom Line and the vibe was totally different because crowd was more record company and downtown trendy than the tour before. Still, it was a great show.
Saw them once more before they became a bloated mass with Synchronicity but the magic was gone.

Brian said...

You don't need no stinkin' time machine. You lived it!

Seriously, you saw them the two times they hit NY that really mattered. I can't imagine how great that CBGB show must have been. When's the book coming out? Take care.

Echorich said...

Brian, there is a outline...