Outlandos d'Amour

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Outlandos d'Amour
Studio album by
Released2 November 1978 (1978-11-02)
RecordedJanuary–June 1978
StudioSurrey Sound Studios
LabelA&MAMLH 68502
ProducerThe Police
The Police chronology
Outlandos d'Amour
Reggatta de Blanc
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 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 Albums Chart and at No. 23 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.[1]

Background and recording[edit]

With a budget of £1,500 borrowed from Stewart Copeland's brother Miles,[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

Miles Copeland occasionally dropped into the studio during recordings, and reacted to what he heard from the group with vehement derision.[3] However, upon hearing "Roxanne" he had the opposite reaction and took the recording to A&M Records the following day, where he persuaded the company to release it as a one-off single.[4] 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 the band create an improved mix of the song, but after five attempts admitted that it 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.[5] 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".[6]

Music and lyrics[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. This is evident on the opening track "Next to You", despite it essentially being a love song. Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland initially felt the lyrics were neither aggressive nor political enough for their style at the time, but Sting was adamant about keeping the song as it was. "Next to You" includes a slide guitar solo by Summers, which Copeland initially dismissed as "old wave".[7]

The second track is the reggae-influenced "So Lonely", which was later released as the third and final single from the album. Sting has said he used Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" as the musical basis for the song,[7] 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 their heart broken, was seen as ironic by a large segment of the band's listeners.[8] 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 ..."[8] Although "So Lonely" failed to chart on its initial release, its subsequent reissue reached No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1980.[9]

"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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] The Police were initially reluctant 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,[14] for whom "Roxanne" was the band's debut single. Although it failed to chart in the UK upon its original release, "Roxanne" also became the Police's first single in the United States 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.[15] The song's international success spurred a UK reissue of "Roxanne" in April 1979, this time reaching No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[16]

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."[17] Having since experienced the celebrity lifestyle himself, he has said he no longer identifies with the song's lyrical content and has come to view Stewart in a different light.[18]

"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";[19] he also claimed to have written the lyrics in only five minutes.[19] "Can't Stand Losing You" was released as the second single from the album, becoming the group's first single to break the charts.[16] It was banned by the BBC, owing to the cover depicting Stewart Copeland with a noose around his neck.[7] The original 7" vinyl reached No. 42 in late 1978,[16] but its June 1979 reissue nearly topped the UK Singles Charts, surpassed only by "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats.[20] "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.[16] In 1995, a live version of the song was released as a single and reached No. 27 in the charts.[16]

The following track, "Truth Hits Everybody", is a punk-influenced song. After that is "Born in the 50s", 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 blow-up 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 B-side of "Can't Stand Losing You"; and "No Time This Time" by Sting, on the B-side of "So Lonely". The latter was subsequently included on Reggatta de Blanc.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[21]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[22]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[23]
Music Story5/5 stars[24]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[25]
Smash Hits7/10[26]
The Village VoiceB+[27]
The Daily VaultA-[28]

The album 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). In Sting's words:

... 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".[29] 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.[16] 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.[30]

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."[31] 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".[27]

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.[21] 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,[32] and at No. 428 on the 2012 revised edition of the list.[33] The same magazine ranked Outlandos d'Amour at No. 38 on its 2013 list of the best debut albums of all time.[34]


Punk band No Use for a Name covered the song "Truth Hits Everybody" (with modified lyrics) on their 1990 debut album, Incognito. The German heavy metal band Rage covered it on their 1994 Japan-only EP Refuge. The pop-punk band Motion City Soundtrack also covered the same song for a Police cover album. Pop-punk band Fall Out Boy recorded a cover of "Roxanne" for the 2005 "Director's Cut" re-release of their debut album Take This To Your Grave. "Next to You" was covered by The Offspring on their 2005 Greatest Hits album. The original Police version of "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.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Sting, except where noted.

Side one
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 Copeland4:02
Side two
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 Summers3:24
10."Masoko Tanga" 5:42


The Police

Additional musicians

  • Joe Sinclair – piano (4, 10)


  • Produced and Arranged by The Police
  • Engineers – Nigel Gray and Chris Gray
  • Mastered by Tony Bridge
  • Art Direction – Michael Ross
  • Photography – Janette Beckman


Weekly charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
1979 UK Albums 6[16]
Billboard Pop Albums 23
Dutch Album Top 50 2
1983 Billboard 200 138


Year Single Chart Position
1978 "Can't Stand Losing You" UK Singles 42[16]
1979 "Roxanne" UK Singles 12[16]
Billboard Pop Singles 32
"Can't Stand Losing You" UK Singles 2[16]
"So Lonely" UK Singles 6[16]
1982 "Roxanne" Billboard Mainstream Rock 28


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[36] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[37] Platinum 400,000*
Germany (BVMI)[38] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[39] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[40] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[41] Platinum 1,000,000^

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


  1. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0. pp.193.
  4. ^ a b Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6. Pages 56–57.
  5. ^ Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0. pp.195.
  6. ^ The Police FAQ
  7. ^ a b c Garbarini, Vic (Spring 2000). "I think if we came back ..." Revolver. Rogier van der Gugten. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b "'So Lonely' / 'No Time This Time'". sting.com.
  9. ^ "So Lonely". officialcharts.com. UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Police Songs". rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  11. ^ Sting (2003). Broken Music. Simon & Schuster.
  12. ^ "Roxanne, 7". sting.com. The Independent. September 1993. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  13. ^ Hodgson, Peter (10 December 2010). "Oops! 10 Great Rock and Roll Bloopers". Gibson.com. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  14. ^ "THE POLICE: Roxanne, 7". Sting.com. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  15. ^ "RPM 100 Singles". bac-lac.gc.ca. RPM. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Police in the UK Charts Archived 26 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Official Charts.
  17. ^ "Roxanne, 7 (Reissue)". sting.com. Record Mirror. December 1979. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  18. ^ Flanagan, Bill (1986). Written in My Soul: Conversations with Rock's Great Songwriters. ISBN 978-0-7953-1081-2. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  19. ^ a b "The Police: Can't Stand Losing You, 7". Sting.com. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 75: 29 July 1979 – 04 August 1979". officialcharts.com. The Official Charts. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  21. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Outlandos d'Amour – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  22. ^ Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  23. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  24. ^ "Outlandos d'Amour – The Police". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (8–21 February 1979): 25.
  27. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2 April 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  28. ^ Warburg, Jason (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Outlandos d'Amour". dailyvault.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  29. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6. Pages 59–60.
  30. ^ "Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  31. ^ Carson, Tom (14 June 1979). "Outlandos D'Amour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  32. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2003. Archived from the original on 1 January 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  33. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  34. ^ "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  35. ^ Hodgson, Peter (10 December 2010). "Oops! 10 Great Rock and Roll Bloopers". 2.gibson.com. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  36. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Outlandos d'Amour". Music Canada. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  37. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973: Albums". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 11 December 2019. (select "The Police" from drop-down list)
  38. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Outlandos d'Amour')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  39. ^ "Dutch album certifications – The Police – Outlandos d'Amour" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 11 December 2019. Enter Outlandos d'Amour in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  40. ^ "British album certifications – The Police – Outlandos d'Amour". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 December 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Outlandos d'Amour in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  41. ^ "American album certifications – The Police – Outlandos d'Amour". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 11 December 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.