Ghost in the Machine (album)

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Ghost in the Machine
Ghost In The Machine cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released2 October 1981 (1981-10-02)
RecordedJanuary – September 1981
Studio
Genre
Length41:03
Language
  • English
  • French
LabelA&MAMLK 63730
Producer
The Police chronology
Zenyatta Mondatta
(1980)
Ghost in the Machine
(1981)
Synchronicity
(1983)
Singles from Ghost in the Machine
  1. "Invisible Sun"
    Released: 25 September 1981
  2. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
    Released: 2 November 1981
  3. "Spirits in the Material World"
    Released: 11 December 1981
  4. "Secret Journey"
    Released: May 1982

Ghost in the Machine is the fourth studio album by English rock band the Police. The album was released on 2 October 1981 by A&M Records. The songs were recorded between January and September 1981 during sessions that took place at AIR Studios in Montserrat and Le Studio in Quebec, assisted by record producer Hugh Padgham.

Ghost in the Machine topped the UK Albums Chart and peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200. The album produced the highly successful singles "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Invisible Sun", and "Spirits in the Material World", with a fourth single, "Secret Journey", also being released in the US. Ghost in the Machine was listed at number 322 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The album was reissued in 1983 on CD.

Production and recording[edit]

Ghost in the Machine was the first Police album to feature heavy use of keyboards and horns. "Spirits in the Material World" has a rhythmic string synthesizer part, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" uses piano arpeggios, and "Invisible Sun" has a background of synthesizer chords. The following twenty minutes of the record—"Hungry for You (J'aurais toujours faim de toi)" through "One World (Not Three)"—include many saxophone harmonies, while the opening to "Secret Journey" showcases the Roland Guitar Synthesizer.

The band's frontman Sting included all the synthesizer parts in his demos for the songs, and brought in Jean Roussel to record the piano parts on "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". The demo for "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was such a high-budget recording that the group could not better it with the equipment available at AIR Studios; they ended up using it as the backing track for the official recording, with drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers dubbing their parts on. Sting also played all the saxophone parts on the album. Summers recollected:

I have to say I was getting disappointed with the musical direction around the time of Ghost in the Machine. With the horns and synth coming in, the fantastic raw-trio feel—all the really creative and dynamic stuff—was being lost. We were ending up backing a singer doing his pop songs.

The album opens with "Spirits in the Material World", featuring keyboards dubbed over Summers' reggae-inspired guitar licks. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" features piano, a strong Caribbean vibe, and an extended non-verbal vocal solo at the end. "Invisible Sun" is a mixture of slow, steady verses, a bombastic chorus, and several guitar solos. "Hungry for You (J'aurais toujours faim de toi)" is sung mostly in French, with the bass and horns both repeating a single 8-note melody for the length of the song, while the guitar maintains a steady beat. "Demolition Man", the band's longest song—almost six minutes in length—features a strong bass line and saxophone, and was written by Sting while staying at Peter O'Toole's Irish mansion. It became a belated hit in 1993 as the theme song for the action film of the same title, starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. Grace Jones and Sting have both recorded solo versions of the song. Manfred Mann's Earth Band also recorded a version—rearranged and with extensive use of synthesizers—in 1982 for their Somewhere in Afrika album.

"Too Much Information", "Rehumanize Yourself", and "One World (Not Three)" feature heavy use of horns. As with "Landlord" and "Dead End Job", Copeland had written both music and lyrics for "Rehumanize Yourself", but Sting rejected the lyrics and replaced them with ones he wrote himself.[3] The final three songs, "Omegaman", "Secret Journey", and "Darkness", return to the darker sound which opens the album.

Artwork and titling[edit]

Much of the material on the album was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Ghost in the Machine, which also provided the title. It was the first Police album to bear an English-language title. In his younger days Sting was an avid reader of Koestler. The subsequent Police album Synchronicity was inspired by Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence, which mentions Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity.

The cover art for Ghost in the Machine features a sixteen-segment display-inspired graphic that depicts the heads of the three band members, each with a distinctive hair style (from left to right, Andy Summers, Sting with spiky hair, and Stewart Copeland with a fringe); the band was unable to decide on a photograph to use for the cover. Wire bonds can be seen on the original issue vinyl album cover, suggesting perhaps that the display is a photographic collage. The graphic was designed by Mick Haggerty. The album's cover is ranked at number 45 on VH1's "50 Greatest Album Covers".

Commercial performance[edit]

Ghost in the Machine debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and spent three weeks atop the chart.[4][5] In the United States, it reached number two on the Billboard 200.[6]

"Omegaman" was chosen by A&M Records to be the first single from the album, but according to Andy Summers, the song's composer, Sting refused to allow its release in single form.[7][8] "Invisible Sun" was ultimately released as the album's first single in the UK and was a great success, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart,[5] even though its music video was banned by the BBC for including footage of the conflict in Northern Ireland. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was released as the album's second overall single, and as the first single in most other territories, becoming the band's fourth UK number one and peaking at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.[5][9] "Spirits in the Material World" followed, peaking at number 12 in the UK and number 11 in the US.[5][9] "Secret Journey" was released as a single in the US, where it charted at number 46.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[10]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[11]
Chicago Tribune2.5/4 stars[12]
The Philadelphia Inquirer4/5 stars[13]
Record Mirror5/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[16]
The Sacramento Bee4/4 stars[17]
Smash Hits6/10[18]
The Village VoiceB+[19]

The reception for Ghost in the Machine was mostly positive. Rolling Stone's Debra Rae Cohen found that the Police "display more commitment, more real anger, on Ghost in the Machine than ever before."[15] In Record Mirror, Robin Smith praised the album as "the best thing they've ever done", noting its "overall sense of dedication and quality" and more varied range of musical styles.[14] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice remarked: "It's pointless to deny that they make the chops work for the common good—both their trickiness and their simplicity provide consistent pleasure here."[19] Smash Hits critic Mark Ellen was less receptive, deeming it a "patchy" album with both "dazzling singles" and filler tracks reminiscent of the band's earlier material.[18] Ghost in the Machine was voted the 24th best album of 1981 in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[20]

In a retrospective review of Ghost in the Machine, Greg Prato of AllMusic observed that the Police "had streamlined their sound to focus more on their pop side and less on their trademark reggae-rock."[10] He found that the album was "not a pop masterpiece," but "did serve as an important stepping stone between their more direct early work and their more ambitious latter direction."[10] J. D. Considine, writing in 2004's The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, stated that "well-modulated" compositions such as "Spirits in the Material World" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" reflected the band's continued experimentation with more dynamic rhythms.[16]

In 2000, Q placed Ghost in the Machine at number 76 on its list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever".[21] Pitchfork ranked Ghost in the Machine at number 86 on its 2002 list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s.[22] It was ranked at number 322 on Rolling Stone's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[23] and at number 323 in a 2012 update of the list.[24] The Guardian featured the record in its 2007 list of "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die".[25]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Sting, except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Spirits in the Material World"2:59
2."Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"4:22
3."Invisible Sun"3:44
4."Hungry for You (J'aurais toujours faim de toi)"2:52
5."Demolition Man"5:57
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
6."Too Much Information" 3:43
7."Rehumanize Yourself"3:10
8."One World (Not Three)" 4:47
9."Omegaman" (stylised as "Ωmegaman")Andy Summers2:48
10."Secret Journey" 3:34
11."Darkness"Copeland3:14
Total length:41:03

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[26]

The Police

  • Sting – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, double bass, keyboards, saxophone
  • Andy Summers – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Stewart Copeland – drums, percussion, backing vocals (5, 11), keyboards

Additional musicians

Production

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[42] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[43] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[44] Gold 250,000^
Italy 200,000[45]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[46] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[47] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[48] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Smith, Troy L. (19 March 2020). "The 80 greatest albums of the 1980s by Rock Hall Inductees". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  2. ^ Grimstad, Paul (September 2007). "What is Avant-Pop?". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  3. ^ Garbarini, Vic (Spring 2000). "'I think if we came back ...'". Revolver. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "Police". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b "The Police Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  7. ^ Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0.
  8. ^ Adams, Sam (24 December 2012). "The Police's Andy Summers on his songs, Sting, and being ripped off by Puff Daddy". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 'Omegaman' was a really strong piece. A&M wanted to put it out as the first single. But Sting, who was feeling his power at the time, was freaked out. He didn't want it out. He refused. He got very upset, but A&M didn't want to upset him for all the typical reasons, so it didn't get put out.
  9. ^ a b c "The Police Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Prato, Greg. "Ghost in the Machine – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  11. ^ Mee, Daniel (25 July 2008). "The Police: Ghost in the Machine (A&M)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  12. ^ Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  13. ^ "New albums". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 11 October 1981.
  14. ^ a b Smith, Robin (26 September 1981). "The Album Machine". Record Mirror. p. 12.
  15. ^ a b Cohen, Debra Rae (10 December 1981). "The Police: Ghost In The Machine". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  16. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (2004). "The Police". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 644–45. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Macias, Chris; Barton, David (30 July 2000). "On the Sting beat: The Police and beyond". The Sacramento Bee.
  18. ^ a b Ellen, Mark (1–14 October 1981). "The Police: Ghost in the Machine". Smash Hits. Vol. 3 no. 20. p. 19.
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (4 May 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  20. ^ "The 1981 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. 1 February 1982. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  21. ^ "The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever! – The Police: Ghost in the Machine". Q. No. 165. June 2000. p. 63.
  22. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 21 November 2002. p. 2. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  23. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Ghost in the Machine – The Police". Rolling Stone. 18 November 2003. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  24. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  25. ^ "1000 albums to hear before you die – Artists beginning with P". The Guardian. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  26. ^ Ghost in the Machine (liner notes). The Police. A&M Records. 1981. AMLK 63730.CS1 maint: others (link)
  27. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. pp. 235–36, 433–34. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. ^ "Austriancharts.at – The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  29. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0422". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  31. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  32. ^ Okamoto, Satoshi (2006). Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Oricon. ISBN 978-4-87131-077-2.
  33. ^ "Charts.nz – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  34. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  36. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 1981". RPM. Vol. 35 no. 22. 26 December 1981. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  37. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Jaaroverzichten – Album 1981" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  38. ^ "Chart Archive – 1980s Albums". Everyhit.com. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  39. ^ "Top 100 Albums 82". RPM. Vol. 37 no. 19. 25 December 1982. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  40. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Jaaroverzichten – Album 1982" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  41. ^ "Top Pop Albums". Billboard. Vol. 94 no. 51. 25 December 1982. p. TIA-16. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  42. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Music Canada. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  43. ^ "French album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 19 November 2020. Select THE POLICE and click OK. 
  44. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Ghost in the Machine')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  45. ^ De Luigi, Mario (14 August 1982). "International Dateline – Italy" (PDF). Cashbox. Vol. 44 no. 12. p. 30. Retrieved 19 November 2020 – via World Radio History.
  46. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  47. ^ "British album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 November 2020. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Ghost in the Machine in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  48. ^ "American album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 19 November 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.