|Studio album by The Police|
|Released||2 November 1978|
|Studio||Surrey Sound Studios|
|Label||A&M – AMLH 68502|
|The Police chronology|
|Singles from Outlandos d'Amour|
Elevated by the success of its lead single, "Roxanne", Outlandos d'Amour peaked at No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and at No. 23 in the US. It has since been certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of over one million units in the United States. The album spawned two additional hit singles: "Can't Stand Losing You" and "So Lonely". Although Outlandos d'Amour received mixed reviews upon its release, it has since been regarded as one of the strongest debut albums by any band or artist. It ranked No. 38 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". In 2012, the magazine ranked it No. 428 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Background and recording
With a budget of £1,500 borrowed from Stewart Copeland's brother Miles, 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 cancelled. Miles Copeland had promised to pay Surrey Sound £2,000 upon completion of the recording, but did not give them the full amount until much later.
Miles Copeland occasionally dropped into the studio during recordings, and reacted to what he heard from the group with vehement derision. 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. 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. Miles Copeland had 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".
Music and lyrics
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. This is evident on the opening track "Next to You", despite essentially being a love song. Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland initially felt that the lyrics were neither aggressive nor political enough for their style at the time, but Sting was adamant about keeping the song as is. "Next to You" includes a slide guitar solo by Summers, which Copeland later dismissed as "old wave."
The second track is the reggae-influenced "So Lonely", which was later released as the third and final single from the album. Sting has admitted to using Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" as the musical basis for the song, while the lyrics in its verses were recycled from his earlier Last Exit song, "Fool in Love". The song itself, about someone who is lonely after getting his heart broken, was seen as ironic by a large segment of the band's listeners. Sting disagreed with this sentiment, saying, "No, there's no irony whatsoever. From the outside it might look a bit strange, being surrounded by all this attention and yet experiencing the worst lonely feeling...but I do. And then suddenly the attention is withdrawn a half an hour later. You're so isolated..." Although "So Lonely" failed to chart on its initial release, its subsequent reissue reached No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1980.
"Roxanne", the album's lead single, was written by Sting after visiting a red-light district near the band's hotel in Paris, France. The Police had been staying there in October 1977 to perform at the nearby Nashville Club. The song's title comes from the name of the character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, an old poster of which was hanging in the hotel foyer. Sting had originally conceived the song as a bossa nova, although Stewart Copeland has been credited for suggesting its final rhythmic form as a tango. During recording, Sting accidentally sat down on a piano keyboard in the studio, resulting in the atonal chord and laughter preserved at the beginning of the track. The Police were initially reticent about the song, but Miles Copeland was immediately enthusiastic after hearing it; he became their manager and got them their first record deal with A&M Records., for whom "Roxanne" was their debut single. Although it failed to chart in the UK upon its original release, "Roxanne" also became the band's first single in North America and quickly charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1979, peaking at No. 32 in April of the same year. It was also successful in Canada, where it peaked at No. 31. The song's international success spurred a UK reissue of "Roxanne" in April 1979, this time reaching No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.
The remaining two tracks on the first side of the album are "Hole in My Life", another reggae-influenced song by Sting, and "Peanuts", a composition written by Stewart Copeland and Sting about Rod Stewart. The lyrics were meant as an expression of disappointment on Sting's part towards his former idol, of whom he said: "I used to be a great fan of his (Rod Stewart) but something happened to him. I hope I don't end up like that." Having since experienced the celebrity lifestyle himself, he no longer identifies with the song's lyrical content and has come to view Stewart in a different light.
"Can't Stand Losing You" begins side two of the original LP. Written and composed by Sting, the song is about a young lover being driven to suicide following a breakup. In a 1993 interview with The Independent, he described the lyrics as "juvenile", saying that "teenage suicide ... is always a bit of a joke"; he also claimed to have written the lyrics in only five minutes. "Can't Stand Losing You" was released as the second single from the album, but it was banned by the BBC due to the controversial cover. Despite this, it became the group's first single to break the charts. The original 7" vinyl reached No. 42 in late 1978, but its June 1979 reissue nearly topped the UK Singles Charts, surpassed only by "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats. "Can't Stand Losing You" briefly returned to the charts in 1980 as part of the Six Pack singles compilation set, which peaked at No. 17 on the UK charts in June 1980. In 1995, a live version of the song was released as a single and reached No. 27 in the charts.
The following track, "Truth Hits Everybody", is a punk-influenced song. After that is "Born in the 50's", which details life as a teenager during the 1960s. "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 band's live performances.
Two other songs from these sessions were excluded from Outlandos d'Amour but released as b-sides for two of its singles: "Dead End Job", a song credited to the entire band on the flip side of "Can't Stand Losing You", and "No Time This Time" by Sting on the back of "So Lonely". The latter was subsequently included on Reggatta de Blanc.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
The LP initially performed poorly 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". 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 No. 12 on the UK charts, and "Can't Stand Losing You" followed, eventually hitting No. 2. The album itself peaked at No. 6. Outlandos d'Amour was certified gold by the RIAA in 1981 for sales of over 500,000 copies in the United States, and in 1984, the album attained platinum certification after shipping one million units.
Contemporary reviews of the album were largely unfavorable. Tom Carson of 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." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice was complimentary of the band's "tuneful, straight-ahead rock and roll" and wrote that almost all of the album's songs "make the cretin in me hop", but felt that none of them reached the level of quality of "Can't Stand Losing You".
Subsequent retrospective reviews have been more favorable towards the album. Greg Prato of AllMusic called Outlandos d'Amour "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", writing that even many of the lesser-known cuts are outstanding. By 2003, Rolling Stone had reversed their original position on the album by ranking it at No. 434 on their list of greatest albums of all time, and at No. 428 on the 2012 revised edition of the list. The same magazine ranked Outlandos d'Amour at No. 38 on its 2013 list of the best debut albums of all time.
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 cover album. "Next to You" was later packaged in Rock Band, while "Truth Hits Everybody", "Roxanne", "Can't Stand Losing You", and "So Lonely" were all released as downloadable content for the Rock Band series.
All songs written and composed by Sting, except where noted.
|1.||"Next to You"||2:55|
|4.||"Hole in My Life"||4:55|
|5.||"Peanuts" (Sting, Stewart Copeland)||4:02|
|6.||"Can't Stand Losing You"||2:59|
|7.||"Truth Hits Everybody"||2:55|
|8.||"Born in the '50s"||3:45|
|9.||"Be My Girl – Sally" (Sting, Andy Summers)||3:24|
- Sting – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, harmonica (2), butt piano (3)
- Andy Summers – guitar, backing vocals, spoken word (9), piano (9)
- Stewart Copeland – drums, backing vocals, percussion
- Additional personnel
|Billboard Pop Albums||23|
|Dutch Album Top 50||2|
|1983||The Billboard 200||138|
|1978||"Can't Stand Losing You"||UK Singles||42|
|Billboard Pop Singles||32|
|"Can't Stand Losing You"||UK Singles||2|
|"So Lonely"||UK Singles||6|
|1982||"Roxanne"||Billboard Mainstream Rock||28|
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