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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Music Retrospective: The Police - Ghost in the Machine

Well, this was quick! I actually wrote a majority of this at a really dull time. There wasn't much work that could be done, so I thought it was time to finally work on getting this done. 

Today's album is Ghost in the Machine, an album that has an normal, interesting name. It’s the Police’s fourth album and it was released in 1981. It produced a lot of single hits and the biggest ones are actually the first three songs on the album. It’s also the album that may be the most 80’s thing the group has ever done. It may be even more 80’s than their last album. Without further ado, here is Ghost in the Machine:

Ghost in the Machine

  1. Spirits in the Material World – Here is where we get a first inkling on how this whole album is going to work. The song, as well as other songs on the album, is moderately synthesized. I really do like this song. The song is supposed to be about “the nature of man’s existence and failure in earthly institutions.” By the way, I got that quote fromWikipedia and it actually explains this song well. The thing I like about the song most is the bass rhythm and it sounds sweet. I see why it became a hit.
  2. Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic – And here is one of my favorite songs EVER. That’s right. EVER. The song is four minutes and 22 seconds of pure awesomeness. The song is about a helpless romantic who can’t tell the woman of his dreams that he loves her because of whatever reason. The lyrics are simply great. The music is put together really well. The synth stuff is put in the background for the most part and that lets everything like the drums, bass, guitar, and piano come out beautifully. In short, it may be the best song EVER.
  3. Invisible Sun –The synthesizers come back in a good way with this song. The meaning of the song is a little vague. I guess one has to figure out what the “invisible sun” is. I’ve read that it was about how people are affected by war in countries. I read that there was some sort of war going on in Ireland at that time, so it’s the lyrics are probably hinting towards that. The lyrics for the song are pretty dark and sad, but there is a little glimmer of hope in the chorus. It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s a good song overall.
  4. Hungry for You (J’aurais Toujours Faim De Toi) – This is the part of the album where it gets pretty “saxy.” If I had to give this album a nickname, it would be “Funky Sax!” The song is about love aka “Sex!” and it’s in French because Sting can get away with some words there. With the saxophones blaring, it gives the song a funky jazz feel, which I like. Overall, I like it, but it’s not one of my favorites.
  5. Demolition Man – In part two of the “Funky Sax” section, we have this song. The song’s about a guy who’s apparently a wrecking machine. What he wrecks, I have no clue. Maybe it’s about Sly Stallone or Wesley Snipes, I don’t know. Anyway, this song’s long. It’s the longest song the group has ever done on any of their albums and it clocks in at about six minutes. It also gives Summers and Copland a chance to basically go all out. I will say that the song does overstay its welcome at about five minutes. With those saxophones blaring and that good rhythm, it feels like the song lasts longer at times.
  6. Too Much Information – Get ready for more sax in this song. The song is basically about getting tired of being smothered in buttloads of data and information. In a way, it’s kind of talking about the World Wide Web! Who knew that Sting was such a prophet?  Anyway, if there’s one song I might just skip, it’s probably this song. The constant sax blaring does overstay its welcome in this song. It’s also pretty repetitive. If I could name this song another name, it would be “Too Much Repetition.” It’s probably my least liked song on the album.
  7. Rehumanize Yourself – “Rehumanize Yourself” is another one of those traditional Police songs. It’s upbeat, it’s got a happy feel to it, and it’s got interesting lyrics. From what I can tell, the song is about how someone’s got to rehumanize themselves. As for what that means, I have no freaking clue. I guess it either means reconsidering your actions before you take them or changing your way of thinking. The lyrics talk about some sort of wrong or violence being done with the chorus reminding the listener to rehumanize themselves. Overall, I like it (I’m saying that a lot here)!
  8. One World (Not Three) – The “Funky Sax” section of the album ends with “One World.” The song basically talks about how the world is just one world. Everyone, rich and poor, are a part of this one world. It’s got a reggae feel to it in the music. The sax blaring fits the song and doesn’t take it over like they do in other songs on the album. The drumming is also pretty sweet.  Overall, it’s a nice song with a nice message.
  9. Omegaman – Here is a song that is pretty reminiscent of their older songs.  I especially the love the nice beat in the chorus. The meaning of the song is pretty vague. It’s probably talking about stress, insomnia, depression, or Charlton Heston. By the way, there was a 1971 movie called “The Omega Man” which starred Heston. It was an adaptation of the novel “I Am Legend,” so it’s possible that the lyrics and title were inspired by the film, I don’t know. I do know that the song is pretty cool. “Omegaman” is a personal favorite of mine. I even made a video using the song. Shockingly, Andy Summers is the one who wrote the song. It may be the only song he’s written that I like.
  10. Secret Journey – Next up is “Secret Journey,” another synth-heavy song. Like most songs on the album, the synths are used to great effect especially at the beginning. The song is about taking a journey to find some sort of wisdom, knowledge or understanding. The music has some sort of inspirational feel to it. The chorus especially is inspirational: “You will see light in the darkness/ you will make some sense of it/When you make your secret journey/you will find the love you missed.” I like this song. When I finally listened to the whole album, this was a really nice find.
  11. Darkness – I guess the guys wanted to counter the positive feel of the previous song and end the album with a kind of depressing song. I’m guessing the song is about someone who is either well-known or powerful regretting they ever became famous. The music itself helps the whole song feel pretty melancholy. Even though it’s so downbeat, it’s still a well-put together song. The “Funky Sax” even makes a cameo. All in all, it’s a good song but it’s not in my top 10.

Best Song: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – Do I need to say why this song is the best song? No? Good. In all seriousness, this song is probably the best song they’ve ever done.

Weirdest Song: Hungry For You – It was tough to choose what would go here since there aren’t any weird songs on here. Still, if I have to choose one, it’s going to be the French one about “Sex!!!” Well, I guess it’s about sex. I put the lyrics through Google Translate and actually got a jumbled mess. “I drank your blood” was apparently a lyric… weird.

I doubt you’ll be shocked by me saying this: This album’s pretty good. There’s a reason this album is hailed as being one of their best. Just about all of the songs are really good. You do have a couple of average ones, but that’s to be expected. The album is definitely their most message-laden album. You have lyrics talking about poverty, violence, consumption, materialism, depression, war, and Charlton Heston (lol). You also have one of the best written songs in “Every Little Thing….”

The music itself was up-to-par. While it’s less rock oriented and more synth-oriented, it still sounds like the Police. Most of it feels like a fusion of rock, reggae, and jazz. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of a lot of the sax playing here. Some of it felt unnecessary and tacked on like someone said “I got a fever and the cure is more sax!” It’s not all bad though. The song I felt best incorporated the horns was “One World.”

So, is this their greatest album? It may be their best album.  That still remains to be seen. While it is definitely a good album, I still have one more album to go through. Then, I can make a good judgment on naming their best album. I definitely recommend this album to anyone and everyone out there. Well, I’m out. Peace and God Bless.

Oh yeah, the next album is named Synchronicity… Yes, that is actually a real word.

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