Outlandos d'Amour

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Outlandos d'Amour
Police-album-outlandosdamour.jpg
Studio album by The Police
Released 2 November 1978 (1978-11-02)
Recorded January–June 1978
Studio Surrey Sound Studios
Genre
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: 7 April 1978
  2. "Can't Stand Losing You"
    Released: 14 August 1978
  3. "So Lonely"
    Released: 3 November 1978

Outlandos d'Amour is the debut studio album by English rock band The Police, released in November 1978 by A&M Records.

Elevated by the success of its lead single, "Roxanne", Outlandos d'Amour peaked at No. 6 on the UK Album Charts and at No. 138 on the Billboard 200. 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 it received mixed reviews upon its release, Outlandos d'Amour has since been regarded as one of the strongest debut albums by any band or artist. It was ranked No. 38 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". In 2012, the same magazine ranked it No. 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 band's best-known songs. It is followed by "Hole in My Life", another reggae-influenced song, and "Peanuts", a Sting/Stewart Copeland composition written about Rod Stewart. Sting remembers writing it in his car on the way home from a late-night recording session in Leatherhead, Surrey, England. He recalled in Lyrics By Sting: "I was thinking about a former musical hero who had dwindled to a mere celebrity, and I was more than willing to pass judgment on his extracurricular activities in the tabloids, never thinking for a moment that I would suffer the same distorted perceptions at their hands a few years later." He would say often on stage: "This song was about Rod Stewart. It isn't anymore."

"Can't Stand Losing You" and the high-tempo "Truth Hits Everybody" begin side two of the original LP. Following these two tracks 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 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 £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 cancelled.[2] 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.[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 had 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]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[8]
Smash Hits 7/10[9]
The Village Voice B+[10]

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".[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 No. 12 on the UK charts, and "Can't Stand Losing You" followed, eventually hitting No. 2. The album itself peaked at No. 6.[12] 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.[13]

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."[14] 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 failed to reach the level of quality of "Can't Stand Losing You".[10]

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.[6] 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,[15] and at No. 428 on the 2012 revised edition of the list.[16] The same magazine ranked Outlandos d'Amour at No. 38 on its 2013 list of the best debut albums of all time.[17]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Next to You"   2:55
2. "So Lonely"   4:50
3. "Roxanne"   3:12
4. "Hole in My Life"   4:55
5. "Peanuts" (Sting, Stewart Copeland) 4:02
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Can't Stand Losing You"   2:59
7. "Truth Hits Everybody"   2:55
8. "Born in the '50s"   3:45
9. "Be My Girl – Sally" (Sting, Andy Summers) 3:24
10. "Masoko Tanga"   5:42

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel

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 – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "The Police". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  9. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (8–21 February 1979): 25. 
  10. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2 April 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  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.
  13. ^ "Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  14. ^ Carson, Tom (14 June 1979). "Outlandos D'Amour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2003. Archived from the original|archive-url= requires |url= (help) on 14 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  18. ^ Hodgson, Peter (10 December 2010). "Oops! 10 Great Rock and Roll Bloopers". 2.gibson.com. Retrieved 7 January 2014.