The Very Best Of Sting And The Police, by Sting and the Police
Some fifteen years or so after the first (and previously reviewed) best-of compilation and less than a decade after the first best-of compilation for Sting (to be reviewed), the music label for Sting and the Police thought it would be a good idea to have a single-disk best-of compilation that included the careers of both Sting and the Police. It is unclear what exactly motivated this, aside perhaps from a desire to grab some cash on a new generation of music listeners and perhaps as a way of encouraging the Police to tour again (which would happen several years later). At the time this album was released, Sting was more than fifteen years into a successful solo career and had recently had immense success with the Brand New Day album (which is featured here in two tracks), but as both the Police and Sting’s career had received adequate one-disk compilations already, it is unclear what shrinking those two compilations into a single disk combined compilation would accomplish, not least because it would be unable to live up to its claim of being the very best of both the Police or of Sting’s solo career.
The compilation begins with “Message In A Bottle,” an obvious classic Police track that remains one of their best-appreciated works. This is followed by “Can’t Stand Losing You,” from Police’s debut album, a fairly obscure song by the standards of this collection. “Englishman In New York,” a hit from Sting’s solo career, has a jazzy feel that blends well with the punky energy of the early Police songs before it. “Every Breath You Take,” the biggest hit the Police ever had, follows this. “Seven Days,” a lovely album track that explores a troubled relationship and rivalry in a poetic fashion, is an obscure Sting solo track that then follows, with more hints of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” the second song at least that does so in the body of work of Sting and the Police. “Walking On The Moon,” an early and beautiful Police song, follows this to continue the mix between solo and group tracks. “Fields Of Gold,” a beautiful acoustic Sting solo track, follows after this. After this is “Fragile,” another beautiful Sting solo track that had been a key element to Sting’s response to 9/11, and thus quite appropriate to the time this compilation was released. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” a well-known and successful Police track that has already been hinted at in this compilation, comes after this. After this comes “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da,” another well-known Police track. This is in turn followed by “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free,” an early Sting solo track written in response to the misunderstanding of the message of “Every Breath You Take.” “Brand New Day,” a relatively recent Sting solo hit, follows this. “Desert Rose,” a recent hit single of Sting from the Brand New Day album, follows right on hand, giving another relatively new song for fans to appreciate. “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You,” another notable and successful Sting solo track comes next. “When We Dance,” a single from the first Sting compilation, is included here, a somewhat obscure but also lovely song. The album then ends with a set of Police songs, starting with the disturbing “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” the early hit “Roxanne,” and the obscure early song “So Lonely,” one of the best relative discoveries to be found.
This is certainly not a bad album to listen to, but does it provide something of worth that one would not otherwise have from a compilation of either the Police or Sting’s own solo career? There are only four songs that one gets on the eighteen songs of this album that are not already found in Every Breath You Take: The Classics for Police or Sting’s own previous compilation of greatest hits that had been released in the mid 1990’s. Of them, So Lonely is the only Police track, and Seven Days the only Sting song that had not appeared on Brand New Day. And, it must be admitted, there are a lot of great songs included on those two previous compilations that are not to be found here: Invisible Sun, King of Pain, Spirits In The Material World, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Russians, All This Time, and many others. Basically, this compilation is a bit on the inessential side, although the new songs are certainly worthwhile and the album does demonstrate that Sting’s solo career as well as the Police conversed with each other and were part of a coherent whole. I am not sure that this collection is necessary to prove that point, but it certainly does.