Friday, August 23, 2013

Music Retrospective: The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta

Well, it’s another day and another Police album. If I had to ask Sting one question, it would be this: what’s up with the weird titles to your albums? I know I could check Wikipedia for the answer but anyone could have put that there. Oh well, I guess I can live without the answer. Zenyatta Mondatta was the Police’s third album and it was released in 1980. Like the others, it was a success. A couple songs from the album even won Grammys in the following years. Does it actually deserve the praise it got? Let’s find out, shall we?

Zenyatta Mondatta

  1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me – Well, I can safely say that this song will go into the Weirdest Song category. The song is about a teacher having a relationship with a student… yep, it’s this song. That being said, it’s actually a well put-together song. I especially like how it starts out. It starts out with this ominous hum like something bad is about to go down. At least the chorus is cheery!  I can sort of see why it won a Grammy though I do wonder who it went up against… (Looks at Wikipedia)… well, it looks like it wasn’t a lot.
  2. Driven To Tears – “Driven to Tears” showed up on my favorites list a while back. It’s easy to see why it did. It’s an awesome song that talks about being fed up with certain things in life. If you can hear a live version, you’ll know why I really like it. My only quibble about the studio version is the guitar solo. It’s not bad but it’s pretty low-key.
  3. When the World is Running Down, You do the Best with What’s Still Around – Dang, that’s a long title! The song is kind of an ongoing loop. The music barely changes. The same groove goes through to the end. It’s a good groove though. The Lyrics are also good. The song’s about a guy who living on what he has left around him. Either he’s homeless or the world has ended and he’s living in some sort of post-apocalyptic world. Either way, it’s still a good song.
  4. Canary in a Coalmine – This is one of the short songs on the album. It’s got nice, funny lyrics. It’s also upbeat and it’s got a catchy chorus. It’s about someone who’s constantly worried about life. They’re worried about getting sick, dying, the weather. It’s so bad they got their head doctor on speed dial! Now I know I can be a little anxious, but whoever this song is about is pretty screwed up.
  5. Voices Inside My Head – This is kind of an instrumental even though it has a couple of lyrics. The song isn’t really about anything if anything it’s about voices inside someone’s head. It’s got a nice, steady groove going on. Copeland does get to less loose on the drums towards the end. It’s a pretty “average but good” song.
  6. Bombs Away – Here is one of the more average songs of the album. From what I’ve read, it’s about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Who knew? Copeland wrote the song, so I must say “good job” since I am/was a percussionist.
  7. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da – Here is the other hit that came from this album. I guess it’s about trying to tune out annoying conversations (?). I’m actually not sure what this song’s about. I do know that it has one of the weirdest titles I have ever seen. I do like it, but it’s really not my favorite of the greatest hits.
  8. Behind My Camel – Welcome to one of the weirder songs on this album. It’s an instrumental one, but it is one with another weird title. I don’t know what to think about this song. It sounds kind of like an experiment or something. It has a desert feel to it all, hence the name “Behind My Camel.” It was done by Summers, so that explains a lot. I even read that Sting and Copeland weren’t in favor of the song. I can see (or hear) why. While it is weird, it doesn’t beat the first song in its weirdness. I only wonder why this song won a Grammy. Some of the songs it went up against were actually better than this one and I checked to see that!
  9. Man in a Suitcase – This song is the shortest song on the album. It’s a lot like “Canary in a Coalmine.” To tell you the truth, they sound pretty similar music-wise. I do like the lyrics to this song as well. It’s about a guy who’s constantly on the move and his suitcase is basically his home. It’s a pretty average song.
  10.  Shadows in the Rain – This is the only reggae-sounding song on here. It’s also the longest song. I don’t have much to say about it. I can barely understand what’s being said since the lyrics have a distorted sound to them. I read somewhere that it’s about someone who’s either seeing ghosts or is going insane. Either interpretation works, I guess. It’s actually a song I usually skip. At least the music is good.
  11.  The Other Way of Stopping – It’s another instrumental and it’s the last song. I can say that it is better than the second instrumental, “Behind My Camel.” It’s a pure rock song and it may be one of the last ones we get from them. Just look what they do in their later albums. As how it compares to “Voices Inside my Head”, I like “Voices” a little better. Still, this last song is a good one to end the album out on.
Best Song: Driven to Tears – It’s easily the best song on the album. It’s also one of the best songs The Police have ever done.

Weirdest Song: Don’t Stand So Close to Me – That’s right, folks. The song about a teacher carrying on a relationship with a student half his age has made it to this category. Why? Guess.

So, is this album any good? I believe so. I don’t think it’s their best album ever, but it is still good. You have the usual pattern for this album. A lot of the songs are good but you usually have a couple of songs that are just average. Just about every song on here has a distinct feel to them. The only ones that sound really similar are "Canary in a Coalmine" and "Man in a Suitcase." A lot of the songs have some kind of a message (sometimes social or political) to them and this is something that is more prevalent in their next album. This is also their last “Rock/Reggae” album. I mean, they still do some rock and reggae, but they go into a whole new direction with their final two albums music-wise.

For me, this album is about at the level of Outlandos d’Amour and not as awesome as Regatta de Blanc. Still, it is better than their first album. A lot of the songs are catchy and interesting to listen to. I do recommend it  because there are good songs on here. Well, it’s time for me to get in front of the camel and lead it to this coalmine. Now, I can finally start looking at their fourth album: Ghost in the Machine. Peace and God Bless.

Yeah, it’s a normal title for once!

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