In their short lifespan of just under eight years, like The Beatles of post-punk, The Police took on the world. The bulk of their studio output retains a near timeless appeal, but it was in the live setting that the power of this trio of talented musicians became really obvious.
It’s a shame that the only widely available live show from the band’s original existence is from the Synchronicity tour. Although a great show, the shine and bombast doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the earlier years. The BBC’s ‘Rock Goes To College’ show sits gathering dust in an archive and other bits and pieces – although pro-shot and circulating among fans – are unlikely to get a DVD release any time soon.
At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.