Having become highly popular in the first half of 1979 with an album and singles originally released back in 1978, there was a huge amount of interest in the new material that was going to be released by The Police.
In September 1979 they unleashed a single which somehow straddled new wave and M.O.R. rock and in doing so turned the band into a global product for mass consumption. In other words, this is the single that re-invented stadium rock, just as those who had fought in the punk wars had thought they were going to win.
I’m not going to sit and here and say that this is a dreadful song. Far from it. It’s got a great tune and a catchy chorus to kill for. And the drumming from Stewart Copeland in particular the way he changes tempo all the way through it, is something to behold. Hell, even the bass playing of Sting is top-class stuff. As for Andy Summers on guitar…..well he’s not a million miles away from playing the same notes as can be heard on Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult which has long been regarded by rockists as a classic.
In fact, I shouldn’t restrict the love for ‘Reaper’ to the rockists as I’ve learned from attending dancing events with Glasgow hipsters of all ages that I am very much in a minority with my distaste for the song…
So, Message In A Bottle was a single tailor-made for sounding brilliant on the radio. Heavy rotation on BBC Radio 1 as well as across the ever-growing independent local stations in the UK meant it was a certainty to hit the #1 spot within a very short space of time. I’ve looked it up. It came in at #8 and the following week it was on top of the pile, eventually spending three weeks at #1.
I bought this single on green vinyl when it was released – just as I owned other earlier singles by the band on different coloured vinyl as part of the marketing ploy by A&M Records.
After the success of Message In A Bottle there would be no need for such gimmickry……