Synchronicity (The Police album)

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Synchronicity
Studio album by The Police
Released1 June 1983
RecordedDecember 1982 - February 1983 at AIR Studios, Montserrat and Le Studio, Quebec, Canada
GenreNew Wave, reggae rock, post-punk
Length44:32
LabelA&M
ProducerThe Police, Hugh Padgham
The Police chronology
Ghost in the Machine
(1981)
Synchronicity
(1983)
Every Breath You Take: The Singles
(1986)
Singles from Synchronicity
  1. "Every Breath You Take"
    Released: May 1983
  2. "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
    Released: July 1983
  3. "Synchronicity II"
    Released: October 1983
  4. "King of Pain"
    Released: January 1984
 
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Synchronicity
Studio album by The Police
Released1 June 1983
RecordedDecember 1982 - February 1983 at AIR Studios, Montserrat and Le Studio, Quebec, Canada
GenreNew Wave, reggae rock, post-punk
Length44:32
LabelA&M
ProducerThe Police, Hugh Padgham
The Police chronology
Ghost in the Machine
(1981)
Synchronicity
(1983)
Every Breath You Take: The Singles
(1986)
Singles from Synchronicity
  1. "Every Breath You Take"
    Released: May 1983
  2. "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
    Released: July 1983
  3. "Synchronicity II"
    Released: October 1983
  4. "King of Pain"
    Released: January 1984

Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by The Police, released on 1 June 1983. The band's most popular release, it includes the hit songs "Every Breath You Take", "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "Synchronicity II".

Contents

History

The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence, which mentions Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity. Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also named Ghost in the Machine after one of his works.

The album marked a significant reduction in the reggae influences that were a part of the band's first four records, instead featuring production-heavy textures and liberal use of synthesizers that, at times, drove entire songs ("Synchronicity I", "Wrapped Around Your Finger"). The influence of world music can also be heard in songs such as "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in Your Footsteps".

As with their prior album, the basic tracks for Synchronicity were recorded at AIR Studios, Montserrat. For sound engineering reasons, the three band members recorded their parts in separate rooms: Stewart Copeland with his drums in the dining room, Sting in the control room and Andy Summers in the actual studio. According to co-producer Hugh Padgham, subsequent overdubs were done with only one member in the studio at a time.

During the recording of "Every Breath You Take", Sting and Copeland came to blows with each other, and Padgham nearly quit the project.[1]

The album was published in the UK and US on both LP and CD in 1983, and on super audio CD in 2003. In 1989 it was published as a remastered gold CD. It was reissued as a remastered digipack CD in 2003.

Songs

"Synchronicity I" starts the album off with a sequencer line that repeats throughout the song. Its lyrics include a term from "The Second Coming", "Spiritus Mundi" (literally "spirit of the world"), which William Butler Yeats used to refer to the collective unconscious, another of Jung's theories. "Walking in Your Footsteps" features lyrics concerning the relation between extinct dinosaurs and humans, and is followed by the jazzy "O My God". (The song recycles some lyrics from two earlier Police songs: "Three o'Clock Shit", which was never recorded on an album[2] but was widely bootlegged from live performances, and the 1981 single "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"). "Mother" features screamed vocals by Summers and a frantic guitar line reminiscent of Robert Fripp (with whom Summers had previously recorded), and "Miss Gradenko" is a song about a romance in the middle of a communist bureaucracy.[3] "Synchronicity II" features extensive use of audio feedback.

"Every Breath You Take", which begins side two of the record is possibly The Police's best-known song, with Sting's vocals on top of a steady rhythm featuring picked guitar, strong bass, and controlled drumming. Originally, the song was what Summers called a "Hammond organ thing that sounded like Billy Preston". The guitarist came up with a more interesting guitar riff which became a distinctive part of the piece. The song, released before the album, went to number 1 on both the US and UK charts, aided by a black and white video directed by Godley & Creme.

"King of Pain" features a lyrical imagery and numerous effects and instruments, while "Wrapped Around Your Finger" uses subdued keyboards. The record's closer, "Tea in the Sahara", is a quiet, eerie song about three women who meet their death in the desert; the song is based on a story from Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky. "Murder by Numbers", originally the B-side of "Every Breath You Take", was added to the CD and cassette versions of the album, and has lyrics comparing political power to the development of a serial killer.

The album's original cover artwork was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, which they took themselves. In the most common version Sting is reading a copy of Jung's Synchronicity on the front cover along with a negative/superimposed image of the actual text of the synchronicity hypothesis. A photo on the back cover also shows a close-up, but mirrored and upside-down, image of Jung's book. The original vinyl release was pressed on audiophile vinyl which appears black like most records, but is actually purple or brown when held up to the light.

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau(B+) [5]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars [6]
Sputnikmusic4.5/5 stars [7]

Synchronicity topped the album charts in both the UK[8] and US (interrupting the dominance of Michael Jackson's Thriller in the US). It won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

In 2001, the TV network VH1 named Synchronicity the 50th greatest album of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 455 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Pitchfork Media ranked it No. 55 in their list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at No. 25 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[9]

Track listing

All songs written by Sting, except where noted.

  1. "Synchronicity I" - 3:23
  2. "Walking in Your Footsteps" - 3:36
  3. "O My God" - 4:02
  4. "Mother" (Andy Summers) - 3:05
  5. "Miss Gradenko" (Stewart Copeland) - 2:00
  6. "Synchronicity II" - 5:02
  7. "Every Breath You Take" - 4:13
  8. "King of Pain" - 4:59
  9. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" - 5:13
  10. "Tea in the Sahara" - 4:19
  11. "Murder by Numbers" (Words: Sting, Music: Summers) - 4:36 (Not included on original LP release).

Three other songs were recorded as B-sides.

  1. "Someone to Talk To" (Summers)
  2. "Once Upon a Daydream" (Sting, Summers)
  3. "Tea in the Sahara" (Live)

Personnel

Production

Charts and certifications

Album

YearChartPosition
1983UK Albums Chart[8]1
The Billboard 200
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart

Singles

YearSingleChartPosition
1983"Every Breath You Take"UK Singles Chart1[8]
Adult Contemporary5
Club Play Singles26
Mainstream Rock1
The Billboard Hot 1001
"King of Pain"Adult Contemporary33
Mainstream Rock1
The Billboard Hot 1003
"Synchronicity II"UK Singles Chart17[8]
Mainstream Rock9
The Billboard Hot 10016
"Wrapped Around Your Finger"UK Singles Chart7[8]
Mainstream Rock9
1984Adult Contemporary13
The Billboard Hot 1008
"King of Pain"UK Singles Chart17[8]

Sales and certifications

RegionCertificationSales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[10]Platinum100,000^
France (SNEP)[11]Platinum472,100[12]
Germany (BVMI)[13]Gold250,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[14]Gold15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[15]Platinum300,000^
United States (RIAA)[16]8× Platinum8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Awards

YearWinnerAwardCategory
1983"Every Breath You Take"Grammy AwardsBest Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
Song of the Year
SynchronicityBest Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal

References

  1. ^ Buskin, Richard (March 2004). Classic Tracks: The Police's 'Every Breath You Take', Sound on Sound.
  2. ^ Note: Though no proper album recording of "Three O'Clock Shit" exists, a demo recorded by the band Strontium 90 was eventually released on Strontium 90: Police Academy, with its title censored as "Three O'Clock Shot".
  3. ^ "Stewart Copeland's AOL transcript". June 22, 1995. http://www.stingetc.com/stewchat.shtml. 
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Synchronicity (The Police album) at Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  5. ^ Album Review, robertchristgau.com.
  6. ^ Album Review, Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ Album Review, Sputnikmusic.
  8. ^ a b c d e f The Police in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.
  9. ^ Q August 2006, Issue 241
  10. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Music Canada. http://www.musiccanada.com/GPSearchResult.aspx?st=Synchronicity&sa=The+Police&smt=0. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "French album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity" (in French). InfoDisc. http://www.infodisc.fr/Certif_Album.php.  Select THE POLICE and click OK
  12. ^ "Les Albums Platine :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. http://www.infodisc.fr/CDCertif_P.php?debut=662. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Synchronicity')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. http://www.musikindustrie.de/gold_platin_datenbank/?action=suche&strTitel=Synchronicity&strInterpret=The+Police&strTtArt=alben&strAwards=checked. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong. http://www.ifpihk.org/www_1/go11e.php. 
  15. ^ "British album certifications – Police – Synchronicity". British Phonographic Industry. http://www.bpi.co.uk/certifiedawards/search.aspx. Retrieved 13 September 2012.  Enter Synchronicity in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  16. ^ "American album certifications – Police, The – Synchronicity". Recording Industry Association of America. http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?artist=%22Synchronicity%22. Retrieved 13 September 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
Thriller by Michael Jackson
Thriller by Michael Jackson
Billboard 200 number-one album
23 July - 9 September 1983
17 September - 25 November 1983
Succeeded by
Thriller by Michael Jackson
Metal Health by Quiet Riot
Preceded by
Thriller by Michael Jackson
UK Albums Chart number one album
25 June - 8 July 1983
Succeeded by
Fantastic by Wham!
Preceded by
The Number Ones by The Beatles
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
11 June - 31 July 1983
Succeeded by
Keep on Dancing by Various Artists