Monday, March 8, 2010

1979: Landlord

The Police: Landlord


The Police came to the height of their popularity with 1979's Regatta De Blanc, turning the buzz of their stylistically broad, borderline New Wave-slash-Rock debut Outlandos d'Amour into something more palatable yet still unique enough to mark a true moment in the development of modern music. As proof, we offer the fact that Regatta charts higher on the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (though 1981's Ghost in the Machine charts even higher), and that the album hit #1 in both the US and Britain, where Outlandos never made it past #6. Added bonus: most people don't remember, but the track which gave the album its title even won the band their first Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental the following year.

But though I love the whole disc - the mellow reggae funk of Walking on the Moon and Bring on the Night, the subtle strains of lesser-known gems such as The Bed's Too Big Without You, oddity Does Everyone Stare, and the high-energy rock n' roller It's Alright For You - rather than rehash such a well-traveled album, we turn tonight to B-side Landlord, a perfectly new wave punk racetrack complete with unbroadcast-able lyrics and a not-so-subtle violence that serves as a perfect antidote to the album's first single, the radio-ready Message in a Bottle.

The contrast between the A-side's pop-rock bounce and jangle and the B-side's thrash and grunt tell a story of mass marketing and the band's move towards the mainstream; to be fair, the Police were never really that Punk, but it's still not hard to figure out why the track wasn't chosen for inclusion on the album itself. Still, it's a keeper, even if the only way to pick up the studio version these days is via the Message in a Box completist's collection.

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