'A paradigm for the cosmos...'
Sting.com | London / New York | 03/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whilst the release of ?Every Breath You Take - The DVD? sees a long overdue release of fourteen of The Police's videos in the DVD format, it is the bonus material that has been included which undoubtedly forms one of the main attractions of this release. Chief amongst this material is the full 47 minute documentary "Police in Montserrat". This BBC documentary was only shown on UK television a couple of times back in the 1980's - indeed it's first showing almost pre-dates home video recorders! - and to the best of our knowledge it has never been broadcast outside of the UK. To make this release even more interesting this version includes several clips that did not make one of the previous broadcasts (the second we believe). These take the form of an extended intro, and additional footage of all three band members being interviewed. So, what's the story behind the documentary? Well, in mid 1981, a youthful pre-'Tube' Jools Holland flew out to Montserrat with a small camera crew to film The Police at work recording their fourth album, ?Ghost In The Machine?. After cold Leatherhead and rainy Holland where the first three albums were recorded, the island of Montserrat and George Martin's homely Air Studio offered a welcoming, warm environment for the recording of what many fans still consider to be the band's best album. After Jools' introduction to the island we see Sting running up a hill to the studio, and are thrust straight into a series of fascinating interviews and videos. Jools talks to each band member in turn, asking Andy to explain how he gets some of his effects and gets him to demonstrate his Roland guitar synthesiser. Andy plays licks from several songs including ?Message In A Bottle? to demonstrate and ?Bring On The Night? and Jools ask him about his influences before unceremoniously pulling out his guitar lead after Andy plays a little 'funk' for him with the comment "I think that's best left to James Brown...". Joined by Jools on keyboards the pair then jam some blues tune and we get to see Andy play a little bottleneck guitar - quiet a rare sight. Sting is interviewed in the studio where he explains to Jools a little about the pressures of songwriting, the desire to always try and better your last hit, and tells how he wrote both ?Message In A Bottle? and ?Invisible Sun?. The explanation for Sting's almost boyish enthusiasm during this interview can now be revealed - he had just written a new song, ?Invisible Sun?, and this clip was not in one of the previous broadcasts. These few minutes are practically worth the price of the DVD alone, with Sting breaking the songs down and explaining in detail how they were constructed. In further 'new' footage, Sting then introduces his customised stand-up Van Zalinge bass, 'Brian', before he and Jools start jamming away where they are joined by Andy Summers.
Jools moves to Stewart Copeland and gets him to explain his drum set-up and demonstrate some of the effects he employs. Stewart describes how important the role of the drummer is at the start of recording and explains in layman's terms his fascination for reggae, demonstrating the key differences between the reggae beat and the traditional backbeat. Stewart's obvious enthusiasm is almost contagious, and at one point he neatly sums up the reggae beat as 'a paradigm for the cosmos'. As if this wasn't enough, intercut between all these clips are four full length videoclips shot in the studio for ?Spirit's In The Material World?, ?One World (Not Three)?, ?Demolition Man? and ?Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic?.Other special features include a discography, and two live tracks from October 1978's appearance on the "Old Grey Whistle Test" TV show ?Can't Stand Losing You? and ?Next To You?. This was The Police's big break on UK television and featured The Police at their bleach blonde best. Although memorable to many for Sting's nose twitching and lip curling, this wasn't 'attitude' but explained by the fact that moments before going on set he'd had an accident in makeup when trying to help out a make-up assistant with a jammed aerosol. Result? Stinging, painful eyes that he hid behind an oversize pair of sunglasses that kept sliding down his face - hence the twitching! Despite this, these two tracks are great performances.In addition, a TV promotional clip for the ?Synchronicity? album is included. This atmospheric black and white film features music clips from a variety of album tracks as the camera swoops around a room full of objects and imagery related to the album and close ups from the album sleeve photo session. Speaking about these photographs back in 1985, Sting said "My idea was that each member of the band would just go out and be photographed in an environment that he chose and that the three things would somehow relate, and they actually did. Mine was all involved with skeletons; the skeleton of a dinosaur... I guess mine was concerned with extinction." Prophetic words as this of course would be the band's last studio album...Lastly, we must not overlook the fourteen full length videos - all the hits are covered from ?Roxanne to? 1986's reworking of ?Don't Stand So Close To Me?, and it is wonderful to see them get a crisp transfer to DVD. Coupled with a choice of audio formats in Dolby Stereo, Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 they sound terrific too! It is also worth noting that the Montserrat documentary is subtitled in both Spanish and Portuguese. All in all, this is a wonderful release that really reinforces the magic of The Police and demonstrates just why they were the biggest band around in the early '80's."
Great DVD w/cool bonus stuff - but die-hard fans get [...]
S. Agovino | 03/21/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I had been waiting eons for A&M to release this collection on DVD. As a fan of the band since Synchronicity was released (I was 6 years old in '83), the VHS collection was the only way to spark the nostalgia of being enchanted by the video for "Wrapped Around Your Finger" when it was released. However, aside from the bonus material featured (which is GREAT - especially the Police in Montserrat segment), those of us who have grown up listening to the band should feel jaded with the "new" audio mix featured on this collection. I am disappointed with the absence of the backing chorus in "Every Breath You Take", the removal of the intro synthesizer melody in "Wrapped Around Your Finger" (which defines the dark mood of the song), and several other changes to the original mixes of "Can't Stand Losing You," "Every Little Thing...," and "Walking On The Moon," among others. Some people may find these new mixes fascinating, but to Police purists like myself, there should have been some sort of indication that the DVD contained "alternate audio mixes" of the songs. I was going to sell my old VHS compilation on ebay, but knowing now that that tape is the only place to hear (and see) the true videos, I think I'm going to hold onto it. So to the Police fan buying this for the bonus material, it's definitely worth it, but caveat emptor - you won't be *hearing* what you would have expected."
Some surprises, some disappointments
M. Campbell | Hermance, Switzerland | 04/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I, along with many others, have waited for the release of this DVD for quite some time. The official videos are the same ones (even the same order) included on the VHS tape released in the mid-80's (at the time the group remixed "Don't Stand '86" for a greatest hits album). Having nearly worn out my copy of that video from dozens--if not hundreds--of viewings (and memorizing the quirks and facial expressions of Andy, Stewart, and Sting in every single video), it's nice to have these videos on a digital copy.Like the reviewer from New Jersey, though, I was shocked and somewhat disappointed with the audio remixing of the videos. While there are some audio surprises (such as the echo effect of Stewart's drums on songs like "Can't Stand"), some of that "Police sound" has been distorted, muffled, and/or flat out eliminated in the remastering. Andy's wonderful ethereal guitar work on songs such as "Message in a Bottle", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", "Every Little Thing She Does...", and "Walking on the Moon" (that wonderful jangling chord that introduces each line in the verses) has been minimized or removed entirely. Sting's vocals are too loud, echo-y, and overshadow the work of his band members (for example, in "Every Little Thing" or "Every Breath"--in the case of the latter, his fadeout vocals are completely gone). Stewart's drums are at times too loud and tinny; at times his wonderful drum fills are missing completely. Overall, the sound has a more hollow and sterile feel, and the goal to create a crisp digital sound has taken away the warmth of the evenly-mixed masterpieces this trio created in their all-too-short career.The standout among the "extra features" is the Monserrat special hosted by Jules Holland. Though the videos included in the special will be familiar to many (including "Every Little Thing" and "Spirits"), Holland's conversations with each band member are the most interesting, shedding light on Sting's songwriting process, Andy's guitar effects, and Stewart's adaptation of world percussion rhythms. Everyone also should have a copy of the Police's "Grey Whistle" performance, featuring Sting with a large pair of sunglasses (Stewart's), the remedy for hiding eyes irritated by an aerosol spray prior to performance.Buy this DVD to have a digital copy of the Police videos (as well as for the extras); keep your old videotapes of their videos for the true Police audio that we all know and love."
GOOD BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!
S. Agovino | 05/19/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, I'm torn between anger and glee about this DVD. I'm really pissed about the missing instruments in some of the songs, particularly, Wrapped Around Your Finger. Yeah, they're the videos, which are great, but how could STING and the others let those people screw it up?! If you listen to Wrapped Around Your Finger AND you love the song like I do... you'll most surely notice the missing synthesizer. I just saw the fricken video on VH1 Classic and heard the synth loud and clear. What's up w/ that crap!? Man, I could just go download the video the way it should be FOR FREE!!! I expect nothing less than a new corrected DVD in the near future. When you change those songs... you mess with peoples' fond memories over years of time. Changing them is just wrong: Sting + P. Diddy = :(
Break out your CDs... listen to some others... you'll hear stuff missing. Why? Oh yeah, and the videos are okay. (the music is more important) I vaguely remembered a girl being in the old Don't Stand So Close To Me. Either the Police guys couldn't stand not being on camera the whole time or the director was going through a lazy phase. I think showing Sting driving up to a rainy bus-stop when he sings about it would've been cool."