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Stewart Copeland: Police Deranged For Orchestra
A review of the drummer from The Police’s new set of orchestrations for old songs. It’s pretty good, y’all!
Police Deranged For Orchestra
Kinetic Kollections Overseas, Inc. under exclusive license to Shelter Music Group/ BMG Rights Management (US) LLC
I’ve been listening back to the catalogue of The Police, and I haven’t been that into it. But the reason I bothered was because of Stewart Copeland. He was always my favourite ingredient, I love his solo works (soundtracks) and collaborations. And I’m also a fan of what Andy Summers and Sting went on to do. I grew up loving The Police - and it’s still a vibe, sometimes, I just found the albums to be a tough listen. Those cod-reggae grooves really scream cancellation in 2023. And Sting’s voice can really grate.
So my timing was good, getting familiar once again with the catalogue, and with Copeland’s overall musicality, and then this dropped; his album of Police “derangements” for orchestra - based on a show he premiered a couple of years back.
Sting tried a similar thing a while back (Symphonicities) and I thought it was horrible and contrived and it didn’t really work - so I was carrying some of that trepidation into this, but was altogether more confident that Copeland would have tighter control over the arrangements and structure and arrangement (being a more thorough arranger/orchestrator than his former lead singer).
And, yes, Police Deranged For Orchestra largely succeeds - depending of course on your tolerance for pedestrian rhymes and rather trite lyrics. What’s compelling is the slightly lesser songs from the canon (Murder By Numbers, Tea In The Sahara) and the obvious hits sounds fresh and interesting once again thanks in particular to strong vocal work from Amy Keys, Carmel Helene and Ashley Tamar. It’s interesting how the songs - essentially gender-less in their point of view - feel stronger when told by the female voice.
And of course the real selling point of it all is Copeland’s creativity - his conducting, arranging and playing. He remains such a force. A huge creative spirit. And the songs are somehow once again towering in these versions. I know this can’t be for everyone, and the idea of orchestrated versions of pop songs is, by default, a tad naff. But this succeeds more often than it fails. I am here for the dramatic readings of Roxanne and Every Breath You Take in a way I never thought I would be. And I like when that happens.
I recommend this for anyone who ever spotted that Copeland was a musical genius. And that should be anyone that ever heard him play of course.