Outlandos d'Amour

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Outlandos d'Amour
Studio album by The Police
Released 2 November 1978 (1978-11-02)
Recorded January–June 1978 at Surrey Sound Studios
Genre New wave
Post-punk
Reggae
Punk rock
Length 38:14
Label A&MAMLH 68502
Producer The Police
The Police chronology
Outlandos d'Amour
(1978)
Reggatta de Blanc
(1979)
Singles from Outlandos d'Amour
  1. "Roxanne"
    Released: April 1978
  2. "Can't Stand Losing You"
    Released: August 1978
  3. "So Lonely"
    Released: November 1978

Outlandos d'Amour is the debut album by The Police, released in 1978. The album features the popular singles "Roxanne", "Can't Stand Losing You", and "So Lonely".

Although when released it received mixed reviews it has since been regarded as one of the finest debut albums of all time. The album was ranked #38 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". In 2012, the same magazine ranked it at number 428 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Overview[edit]

The album, while at times incorporating reggae, pop, and other elements of what would eventually become the definitive sound of the band, is dominated by punk influences. It starts off with "Next To You", a punk number with a slide guitar solo in the middle. The reggae-tinged "So Lonely" follows. "Roxanne", about a prostitute, was written by Sting after visiting a red-light district in Paris and is one of The Police's best-known songs. It is followed by "Hole in My Life", another reggae-tinged song, and "Peanuts", a Sting–Stewart Copeland collaboration which blends punk aggression with a decidedly humorous tone. "Can't Stand Losing You" and the high-tempo "Truth Hits Everybody" begin side two of the original LP. "Be My Girl—Sally" is a medley of a half-finished song by Sting and an Andy Summers poem about a blowup doll. This leads into the semi-instrumental closer, "Masoko Tanga", the only song on the album to not become a staple of the Police's live performances.

Two other songs from these sessions were released as b-sides: "Dead End Job" credited to the entire band on the flip of "Can't Stand Losing You," and "No Time This Time" by Sting on the back of "So Lonely," later issued on Reggatta de Blanc.

Punk band No Use for a Name covered the song "Truth Hits Everybody" (with modified lyrics) on their 1990 debut album, Incognito. The pop-punk band Motion City Soundtrack also covered the same song for a Police covers album. "Next to You" was later packaged in Rock Band. "Truth Hits Everybody", "Roxanne", "Can't Stand Losing You", and "So Lonely" were all released as downloadable content for the Rock Band series.

Background[edit]

With a budget of only £1,500 borrowed from Stewart Copeland's brother Miles,[1] the album was recorded at Surrey Sound in an intermittent fashion over six months, with the band jumping in whenever the studio had free time or another band's sessions were canceled.[2] Miles Copeland had promised to pay Surrey Sound £2,000 upon completion of the recording, but didn't give them the full amount until much later.[3]

Miles Copeland occasionally dropped into the studio during recordings, and reacted to what he heard from the group with vehement derision.[2] However, upon hearing "Roxanne" he had the opposite reaction and took the recording to A&M Records the following day, where he persuaded them to release it as a one-off single.[3] Though the single failed to chart, A&M agreed to give the band a second chance with "Can't Stand Losing You". At first, A&M proposed that they create an improved mix of the song, but after five attempts admitted that they could not improve upon the band's mix and released the original mix for the single. When it became the band's first hit, the record label quickly approved the release of the by-then finished album.[4]

Miles Copeland III originally wanted to name the album Police Brutality. However, after hearing "Roxanne" and then envisioning a more romantic image for the band, he proposed Outlandos d'Amour instead. This title was a loose French translation of "Outlaws of Love", with the first word being a combination of the words "outlaws" and "commandos", and "d'Amour" meaning "of love".[5]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [6]
Robert Christgau (B+) [7]
Rolling Stone (negative)[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[9]
Smash Hits 7/10[10]

The LP initially flopped, due to low exposure and an unfavourable reaction from the BBC to its first two singles, "Can't Stand Losing You" and "Roxanne" (about suicide and prostitution, respectively). As Sting describes:

...We had [a] publicity campaign with posters about how the BBC banned 'Roxanne'. The reason they had a problem with 'Can't Stand Losing You' was because the photo on the cover of the single had Stewart standing on a block of ice with a noose around his neck, waiting for the ice to melt.

The band's low-budget tour of America in support of the album made people across the country aware of the band, and especially "Roxanne".[11] The song received more and more airplay from radio DJs in both the United States and the United Kingdom in April 1979. When A&M re-released "Roxanne", it went to #12 on the UK charts, and "Can't Stand Losing You" followed, eventually hitting #2. The album itself peaked at #6.[12]

Contemporary reviews of the album were largely unfavorable. Rolling Stone magazine had high praise for the technical abilities of all three band members, but was relentlessly disparaging of their attempt to tackle sophisticated rock and reggae while posturing as punks. They were even more critical of the perceived lack of emotional conviction in the band, especially in Sting's vocals, concluding that "Outlandos d'Amour isn't monotonous—it's far too jumpy and brittle for that—but its mechanically minded emptiness masquerading as feeling makes you feel cheated... worn out by all the supercilious, calculated pretense."[8] By 2012, Rolling Stone had reversed their position by ranking the album number 428 on their list of greatest albums of all time.

Allmusic called Outlandos "by far [the Police's] most direct and straightforward release" and "unquestionably one of the finest debuts to come out of the '70s punk/new wave movement", saying that even many of the lesser-known cuts are outstanding.[6] In his short review of the album, Robert Christgau described it as "mindlessness", saying that only "Can't Stand Losing You" was completely satisfying even on a visceral level.[7]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Sting, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Next to You"   2:52
2. "So Lonely"   4:50
3. "Roxanne"   3:12
4. "Hole in My Life"   4:50
5. "Peanuts" (Sting, Stewart Copeland) 3:55
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Can't Stand Losing You"   2:59
7. "Truth Hits Everybody"   2:55
8. "Born in the '50s"   3:42
9. "Be My Girl - Sally" (Sting, Andy Summers) 3:24
10. "Masoko Tanga"   5:42

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel
  • Joe Sinclair – piano on "Hole in My Life" and "Masoko Tanga"
  • Nigel Gray and Chris Gray – engineers

Charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
1979 UK Albums 6[12]
Billboard Pop Albums 23
1983 The Billboard 200 138

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1978 "Can't Stand Losing You" UK Singles 42[12]
1979 "Roxanne" UK Singles 12[12]
Billboard Pop Singles 32
"Can't Stand Losing You" UK Singles 2[12]
"So Lonely" UK Singles 6[12]
1982 "Roxanne" Billboard Mainstream Rock 28

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil (1993). "Outlandos at the Regatta". In Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (pp.32–35) [Boxed set booklet]. A&M Records Ltd.
  2. ^ a b Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0. pp.193.
  3. ^ a b Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6. Pages 56–57.
  4. ^ Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0. pp.195.
  5. ^ The Police FAQ
  6. ^ a b Prato, Greg. Outlandos d'Amour at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  7. ^ a b Album Review, robertchristgau.com.
  8. ^ a b Album Review, Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ "The Police: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  10. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (February 8–21 1979): 25. 
  11. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6. Pages 59–60.
  12. ^ a b c d e f The Police in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.