Wednesday, October 2, 2019

"Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" by The Police

Song#:  2909
Date:  10/25/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  46
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After everything was wrapped up from their massively successful 1983 LP Synchronicity, The Police took a break. Sting ended up releasing a hit solo album while Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland worked on their own projects. The trio got back together for a few Amnesty International-related concerts before heading back into the studio to record what would be their sixth studio album. Unfortuantely, drummer Copeland fell off a horse and broke his collarbone right before the sessions were to begin and that left him out of commission. The trio still got together, but making new music seemed to be out of the question without Copeland playing drums. They then decided to try and update some of their older hits. Copeland would program electronic drums for the songs since he could not perform. The sessions were tense and arguments ensued. In the end, two songs got recorded. With no prospects for a new album, this track would be pushed out as a single and then included on a compilation LP titled Every Breath You Take: The Singles. The remake got some attention and was able to reach #10 at Rock, but it fell short of making the Pop Top 40. Following the release of the compilation, the trio called it quits. Their legacy includes five multi-platinum studio albums, six Top 10 hits, six Grammys, and a 2003 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

ReduxReview:  Remaking your own hit is a risky proposition. The new versions will nearly never outshine the original one. On rare occasions it does work like when Neil Sedaka revamped his teenybopper hit "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" into a mature ballad. Sedaka's second reading gave the song a whole new perspective and meaning. It went from a sassy high school dramady to a nostalgic weepy. Artist may do acoustic versions of their old song and those can be interesting, but usually unremarkable. Then in many cases the remake just falls flat as this one did from The Police. I mean, why on earth would they do a remake of a song that was a hit just six years earlier? No one really wanted to hear this and though time had passed, it wasn't like a brand new generation of kids were going to all of a sudden discover this song and the band. It was just weird. Maybe it was just a desperate way to try and stay together. Whatever the reason, it didn't work. The spark that make the intense and mysterious original so good was nearly extinguished by a languid new age arrangement. Perhaps if they had attempted this a couple decades later, it might have been better. At the time they just weren't mature enough to try and give a new perspective on one of their hits. Not enough time had passed and the band was in a bad place. The "De Do Do Do" remake (see below) was even worse. They should have just quit and walked away instead of forcing these tracks out.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song The Police originally recorded in 1980. It was the lead single from their third album Zenyatta Mondatta and was their first Top 10 hit in the US. In their UK homeland, it was their third #1 hit. This makes The Police one of only three artists to have had a hit, and then got on the chart again with a newly recorded version of the song. The first to do so was The Ventures. They reached #2 in 1960 with "Walk, Don't Run." Then four years later they recorded a new version titled "Walk, Don't Run '64." The new single got to #8. Neil Sedaka also accomplished the feat with his song "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do." His original upbeat take reached #1 in 1962. In 1976, he recorded a ballad version that got to #8. There are other artists who have done this, but their second versions were either collaborations with other artists (Elton John's live duet with George Michael on "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me") or done as a solo piece (Eric Clapton's MTV Unplugged remake of his band Cream's "Layla") or lyrically altered (Elton John again with his Princess Diana revision of "Candle in the Wind").  2) The other song The Police recorded before they broke up was a remake of their second US Top 10 hit "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da." It was supposed to be included on the compilation LP, but they weren't happy with the finished tune and scrapped it. However, it did later get issued out on an updated 1995 special version of the compilation that was re-titled Every Breath You Take: The Classics.  3) Although this single was the last to be officially released by The Police, they did reach the chart again later in 1997. In preparation for a new compilation album, Sting worked with Puff Daddy on a remixed version of The Police's 1978 classic "Roxanne." It was titled "Roxanne '97 (Puff Daddy Remix)" and was credited to Sting & The Police. It was included on the compilation The Very Best of Sting & The Police and was issued out as a single. It got to #59 Pop and #20 R&B while reaching #17 in the UK.


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