I’ve never liked The Police. To be more accurate, I’ve never given The Police much of a chance. Sting has what might be the worst, most ear piercing singing voice in rock and roll history. And there’s nothing worse than white guys playing reggae. But over the years. I’ve constantly heard what amazing musicians the three members of The Police were and are. On the one hand, I hope listening to Ghost in the Machine gives me more ammunition for hating this trio. But maybe it’ll open my eyes to what everyone else has seen all along. Either way, I guess listening to Ghost in the Machine is a no lose situation.
Aaah, 1981… A time when every major band seemed determined to smother anything real and unique about their music with as much studio over production as possible. Spirits in the Material World and Every Little Thing She Does is Magic are so artificial and tweaked to inhuman perfection, I imagine a computer program designed to write songs like The Police, could write these songs note for note, and no human ears would be able to tell the difference.
Could middle aged white guys sound anymore middle aged and white than The Police on Hungry for You? This really is everything that has aged terribly about early 80s music, condensed into just under three minutes of sonic bed shitting. The lyrics are even in French. I always knew that Sting was pretentious, but Jesus Christ!
With less reliance on production tweaks and fake instruments spewed out of a synthesizer, Demolition Man is the first song on Ghost in the Machine to make me think there might be some substance under the style. Without all the extra crap on top, you can actually hear a pretty cool song, and some living, breathing musicians at the heart of it.
Before listening to this record, if you had asked me what’s the one thing I was dreading more than The Police taking on reggae, I might have said, The Police taking on disco. But I’ll be buggered if I didn’t kind of dig the funky fuck around that is Too Much Information. But don’t panic, it’s not long before they’re back to their bull shittiest, with Re-Humanize Yourself and One World (Not Three). Get it, it’s Sting tackling world poverty. There’s no one better to change the world than a rich white guy who plays bass guitar and appropriates black music for a living.
I tell you what, I thought I hated The Police before I listened to Ghost in the Machine. But now, I have to find out what’s more extreme than hate, or recalibrate my definition of hate. Because enduring the 41 minutes of Ghost in the Machine might be the most excruciating musical experiences I have ever subjected myself to.