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.

mp3 : The Police – Message In A Bottle
mp3 : The Police – Landlord

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……


7 thoughts on “STRADLING NEW WAVE AND M.O.R.?

  1. My older brother and his new wavery pals were beginning to get suspicious about The Polis at this stage. I was too young or too naive to understand “too commercial “ was a bad thing. I always had a sneaking regard for them even after they’d been outed as the enemy. Never noticed the Reaper connection before. An even more implausible connection is that Sting taught my good lady wife back in his clog-wearing days in Cramlington.

  2. I remember hating the Police for their ubiquity on TV back in the day, with nary a week going by without another Annie Nightingale tour film or in-depth Sting interview. Some of their music was difficult to resist though (not the annoying singles, but some more nuanced album tracks). Copeland has turned out to be an astute commentator on pop history while Sting’s heroic battle with hair loss has always been fascinating.

  3. The Police were a great band with top tunes and ace players. Sometimes a band is megasuccessful because they’re excellent. Sometimes not (U2). Unapologetic Police fan from the beginning and ‘Message’ is just one of their legit hits.

  4. ‘Invisible Sun’ would get more respect as a song if it were sung by a band more trendy at the time…

  5. Here in America we were just happy to have a “New Wave” band that got airplay and sales! It was an uphill struggle over here and if that meant giving Sting a platform to allow his inner dinosaur to flourish well, you have to take the rough with the smooth. At least the success of The Police meant that we had those far better Klark Kent records to happen! Even if it did ultimately result in the appalling “Synchronicity!”

  6. I’ve loved The Police since I first heard Can’t Stand Losing You as a 12 year old lad. Interesting fact. Sting’s brother Phil is still a milkman in Wallsend. He delivers to our street and the first time I seen him I really thought Sting was delivering our milk, they’re that much alike.

  7. Hey Jim ,
    Sorry late posting again, but thank you I always loved ‘ Landlord’ and your just the guy who
    would post it .
    Regard Message In a Bottle , yes it was a classic , just at a time when we wanted original but the title of your post nails it , it was from two different worlds .
    Regards the Don’t Fear the Reaper reference maybe folk should listen to the stronger sounding Madman Running Thru The Fields by sixties psychedelic bandwagon jumpers Dantalian’s Chariot from summer 67. This psych classic had not only the ‘ Message …….’ riff running all through the verse but big ‘ Walking on the Moon ‘ type chords booming away in the outro . Of course as any fool know Dantalian was a slimmed down Zoot Money and the Bigroll Band featuring Bournemouth friends George Bruno (Zoot) Money and one Andrew Somers aka Andy Summers of the Police . Still love Landlord Regards Craig

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