The Police, Reggatta De Blanc
A solid, sturdy affirmation of strength
Translation: "White Reggae," in the pseudo international language the Police used to title their first three albums. Confidently played and arranged, the songs didn't expand the range of the band as much as they affirmed its strengths. "Message in a Bottle," a castaway's desperate plea, and the sexual loneliness of "The Bed's Too Big Without You" revealed Sting's increasing confidence as a reggae songwriter and singer: Maxi Priest later covered the former, Sheila Hylton the latter, but the Police originals did not suffer by comparison. The repetition of the lyrics at the end of "Message in the Bottle" was protected by the sturdiness of the riff: Sting repeats the line "sending out an S.O.S." 25 times to the fade, but it's still ear candy thanks to the intricate interplay underneath. The pulse and dub shine of "Walking on the Moon" is one of the highlights of the Police catalog. Breaking the reggae mold a bit is "It's Alright With You," which at least in the verse borrows some of the cadence of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." "Bring On the Night" is another depature, a more mature pop song that would be one of the relatively few Police songs Sting would embrace later in his solo career.
The whole band shares songwriting credit on the mostly instrumental title song and on the oddity "Deathwish," which works well in its Bo Diddley-beat musical passages but whose lyrics seem like verses in search of a chorus.
Copeland — who in the earliest days was the band's primary songwriter — gets three and a half songwriting credits, his most on any Police album. His best tune in the band's repertory is "On Any Other Day," a comedic litany of domestic frustrations. The others aren't quite as good: "Contact" has a bit of Kinks influence, perhaps, and "Does Everyone Stare," one of the only Police songs with piano as the dominant instrument, seems an attempt at pop via jazz chord change in the manner of Steely Dan. Then again, Sting too fades in the stretch, with "No Time This Time" one of his most forgettable songs with the band.