Synchronicity (The Police album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||17 June 1983|
|Recorded||December 1982 – February 1983|
|The Police chronology|
|Singles from Synchronicity|
Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by English rock band the Police, released on 17 June 1983 by A&M Records. The band's most successful release, the album includes the hit singles "Every Breath You Take", "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", and "Synchronicity II". The album's title and much of the material for the songs were inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence. At the 1984 Grammy Awards the album was nominated for a total of five awards, including Album of the Year, and won three. At the time of its release and following its tour, the Police's popularity was at such a high that they were arguably, according to BBC and The Guardian, the "biggest band in the world".
Synchronicity reached number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200, and sold over eight million copies in the US. The album was widely acclaimed by critics. Praise centred on its cohesive merging of disparate genres and sonic experimentation. Rolling Stone described "each cut on Synchronicity [as] not simply a song but a miniature, discrete soundtrack". It has since been included in the magazine's lists of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties" and the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence. Frontman Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also titled the Police's prior album Ghost in the Machine after one of his works.
The album marked a significant reduction in the reggae influences that were a part of the band's first four records, instead featuring production-heavy textures and liberal use of synthesizers that, at times, drove entire songs ("Synchronicity I", "Wrapped Around Your Finger"). The influence of world music can also be heard in songs such as "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in Your Footsteps". As opposed to the band's previous effort, Ghost In The Machine, the songs are much sparser, with less overdubbing, more akin to the trio feel and the band's aesthetic of "less is more". Sting elaborates on this:
"I enjoyed making Ghost In The Machine and playing with the tools of the studio, just building things up and sticking more vocals on. Great fun. But listening to it, I thought. "Hey, my voice on its own sounds as good as fifteen overdubs, so I'll try it on its own." And I've done the saxophone section bit now, I'm bored with it; and Andy was into just plunking down one guitar part. I'm glad we did 'Ghost'. I don't regret it. But it was time to change the regime again."
As with Ghost in the Machine, the basic tracks for Synchronicity were recorded at AIR Studios in Montserrat beginning in December 1982. The three band members recorded their parts in separate rooms: Stewart Copeland with his drums in the dining room (connected to the control room via video link), Sting in the control room, and Andy Summers in the actual studio. According to co-producer and engineer Hugh Padgham, this was done for two reasons: to obtain the best sound for each instrument and "for social reasons." Sting explained how this setup worked for him:
"In my case, it's because there is nothing worse than hearing a bass through a set of headphones. Basically, it sounds like a frog farting. I play much better when the sound coming out of the instrument is rich and warm. If we played together like that in the same room, we wouldn't be able to hear anything except the drum, because the guitarist has to have a lot of volume to hit a certain level of distortion or passion or emotion. I play in the studio next to the engineer so I can hear the instruments balanced and mixed roughly as they'll sound on the record."
Padgham also stated that subsequent overdubs were done with only one member in the studio at a time. During the recording of "Every Breath You Take", Sting and Copeland came to blows with each other, and Padgham nearly quit the project.
Synthesizers that were around included the Oberheim OB-Xa, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and the Roland Jupiter-8. Since neither the band nor Padgham himself were any good at programming synths, Sting, for instance, would run through the various factory patches until he finds a particular sound as he did not like to spend time getting synth sounds (i.e. through programming)."Walking In Your Footsteps" is an example of this, as well as being the first song Sting ever did using the Oberheim DSX sequencer.
Final overdubs and mixing were done at Le Studio in Morin Heights from January to February 1983 using an SSL console. In the mornings, Padgham would do much of the mixing work while the band were off skiing, then they would return to the studio to help fine-tune the mix and change a few things - each song would usually take a day or so to mix.
The album's original cover artwork, conceived by Jeff Ayeroff and Norman Moore, consisted of a series of photographs overlaid with transparent horizontal stripes of blue, red, and yellow. The album was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, taken by Duane Michals. In the most common version Sting is reading a copy of Carl Jung's Synchronicity on the front cover along with a superimposed negative image of the actual text of the synchronicity hypothesis. A photo on the back cover also shows a close-up, but mirrored and upside-down, image of Jung's book.
The original vinyl release was pressed on audiophile vinyl which appears black like most records, but is actually purple when held up to the light.
Synchronicity was released in the United Kingdom on 17 June 1983. The album was issued on LP, CD, and cassette. Synchronicity debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and spent two weeks at the top position. In the United States, the album topped the Billboard 200 in late July and ultimately spent 17 nonconsecutive weeks at number one on the chart, interrupting the dominance of Michael Jackson's Thriller.
|The Baltimore Sun|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Sacramento Bee|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
Professional music critics at the time of release and afterwards have been mostly positive towards the album. Richard Cook of NME called Synchronicity "a record of real passion that is impossible to truly decipher", and felt that "although [the album] magnifies the difference between Sting and Summers and Copeland it also evolves the group into a unique state: a mega-band playing off glittering experimentation against the sounding board of a giant audience. It's the sound of a group coming apart and coming together, a widescreen drama with a fascination at a molecular level. Some of the music fuses intuitive pop genius with willfully dense orchestration so powerfully it stuns. It is occasionally sensational."
In Melody Maker Adam Sweeting was less enthusiastic, saying, "I would guess that devotees of this extremely sussed trio will find plenty to amuse them, and indeed Sting has sown all sorts of cryptic little clues and messages throughout his songs... However impressive bits of Synchronicity sound, I could never fall in love with a group which plans its moves so carefully and which would never do anything just for the hell of it".
Reviewing the 2003 reissue, Mojo's David Buckley stated that "Synchronicity [...] was already, in the time-honoured words of rock journo cliché, 'the work of a disintegrating unit', yet 20 years on it hangs together well". Although noting what he felt was a clear gap in quality between the first and second halves of the album, AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine concluded that the "first-rate pop" of the second half ranks among Sting's best work, while also illustrating "that he was ready to leave the Police behind for a solo career, which is exactly what he did."
In the 1983 Rolling Stone readers' poll, Synchronicity was voted "Album of the Year". It was voted the fifth best album of 1983 in The Village Voice's year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll. In 1984, Synchronicity won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and was nominated for Album of the Year. "Every Breath You Take" won the awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and received a nomination for Record of the Year.
In 1989, Synchronicity was ranked No. 17 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s. Pitchfork ranked the record at No. 55 on its 2002 list of the decade's 100 best albums. In 2006, Q placed Synchronicity at No. 25 on its list of the 40 best 1980s albums. In 2016, Paste ranked Synchronicity sixth on its list of the 50 best new wave albums, and 17th on its list of the 50 best post-punk albums.
Synchronicity has appeared on numerous rankings of the greatest albums of all time. In 2000, the Virgin All Time Top 1000 Albums book ranked Synchronicity at No. 91. In 2003, Synchronicity was ranked at No. 455 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time; the album also placed on updates of the list in 2012 (at No. 448) and in 2020 (at No. 159). In 2010, Consequence of Sound listed it as the 37th best album of all time. Synchronicity was ranked 50th in VH1's 2001 countdown of the "100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll", and 65th in Channel 4's "100 Greatest Albums" in 2005. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame compiled a list of "The Definitive 200" albums in 2007, listing Synchronicity at No. 119. In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2013, it placed at No. 13 in BBC Radio 2's "Top 100 Favourite Albums", a poll voted in by over 100,000 people. Synchronicity was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
All tracks are written by Sting, except where noted.
|2.||"Walking in Your Footsteps"||3:36|
|3.||"O My God"||4:02|
|5.||"Miss Gradenko"||Stewart Copeland||2:00|
|7.||"Every Breath You Take"||4:13|
|8.||"King of Pain"||4:59|
|9.||"Wrapped Around Your Finger"||5:13|
|10.||"Tea in the Sahara"||4:11|
|11.||"Murder by Numbers" (bonus track on cassette and CD editions)||4:36|
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.
- Sting – lead and backing vocals, bass guitar, upright bass, keyboards, drum machine and sequencer on "Synchronicity I", saxophone on "O My God", oboe on "Mother" and "Tea in the Sahara"
- Andy Summers – electric guitars, backing vocals, keyboards, lead vocals on "Mother"
- Stewart Copeland – drums, marimba, percussion, backing vocals
- Hugh Padgham – production, engineering
- Renate Blauel – assistant engineer (AIR Montserrat, uncredited)
- Robbie Whelan – assistant engineer (Le Studio, uncredited)
- The Police – production
- Bob Ludwig – mastering
- Jeff Ayeroff – art direction, design
- Norman Moore – art direction, design
- Duane Michals – photography
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)||Gold||10,000*|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||8× Platinum||8,000,000^|
* Sales figures based on certification alone.
- "Police play Shea Stadium". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Pidgeon, John (24 August 2007). "Whatever we do, this will always be the seminal band". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Holden, Stephen (23 June 1983). "Synchronicity". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. New York. 16 November 1989. pp. 53–149. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. New York. 22 September 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- Garbarini, Vic (June 1983). "The Police report - The lion in winter". Musician.
- Buskin, Richard (March 2004). "Classic Tracks: The Police's 'Every Breath You Take'". Sound on Sound. Cambridge. pp. 136–40. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- Denyer, Ralph (March 1984). "The Producer Series - Hugh Padgham". Studio Sound. No. 4. p. 42.
- Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later, 2nd Edition (Piatkus), page 422-423.
- Phillips, Ian (10 September 1999). "Arts: Angels in America". The Independent. London. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- "Police cancel all leave". NME. London. 11 June 1983. p. 36.
- "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "Police". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
- "The Police Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Drum Dates". Modern Drummer. Vol. 26 no. 7. Clifton. July 2002.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Synchronicity – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- Considine, J. D. (19 June 1983). "Police's 'Synchronicity' full of challenging ideas". The Baltimore Sun.
- Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- Buckley, David (April 2003). "The Police: Synchronicity". Mojo. No. 113. London. p. 118.
- Kane, Peter (April 2003). "The Police: Synchronicity". Q. No. 201. London. p. 123.
- 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.
- Macias, Chris; Barton, David (30 July 2000). "On the Sting beat: The Police and beyond". The Sacramento Bee.
- Dellar, Fred (23 June – 6 July 1983). "The Police: Synchronicity". Smash Hits. Vol. 5 no. 13. London. p. 13.
- Christgau, Robert (26 July 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- Cook, Richard (18 June 1983). "Junger than Stingtime". NME. London. p. 29.
- Sweeting, Adam (18 June 1983). "Synch or Swim". Melody Maker. London. p. 27.
- "Readers' & Critics' Awards". Rolling Stone. No. 416. New York. 1 March 1984.
- "The 1983 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. 28 February 1984. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "26th Annual Grammy Awards". The Recording Academy. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
- "Complete List of the Nominees for 26th Annual Grammy Music Awards". Schenectady Gazette. 9 January 1984. p. 12. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "The Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 21 November 2002. p. 5. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "40 Best Albums of the '80s". Q. No. 241. London. August 2006. pp. 84–89.
- "The 50 Best New Wave Albums". Paste. Decatur. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums". Paste. Decatur. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
- "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Synchronicity – The Police". Rolling Stone. New York. 18 November 2003. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. New York. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time". Consequence of Sound. 15 September 2010. p. 8. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll (60 – 41)". VH1. Archived from the original on 18 July 2005. Retrieved 8 November 2020. Cite magazine requires
- "100 Greatest Albums". 100 Greatest. 17 April 2005. Channel 4. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "The Definitive 200". definitive200.com. p. 5. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "Grammy Hall Of Fame". The Recording Academy. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- "Radio 2's Top 100 Favourite Albums". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- Dimery, Robert, ed. (2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (revised and updated ed.). Universe Publishing. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
- Synchronicity (liner notes). The Police. A&M Records. 1983. AMLX 63735.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
- The Police’s ”Every Breath You Take” on Mixonline
- Le Studio Stalwart dead at 31
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Chart Book. pp. 235–36, 435–36. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Austriancharts.at – The Police – Synchronicity" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Top RPM Albums: Issue 6324a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – The Police – Synchronicity" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – The Police – Synchronicity" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- Okamoto, Satoshi (2006). Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
- "Charts.nz – The Police – Synchronicity". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – The Police – Synchronicity". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Swedishcharts.com – The Police – Synchronicity". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Swisscharts.com – The Police – Synchronicity". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "The Top Albums of 1983". RPM. Vol. 39 no. 17. Toronto. 24 December 1984. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Jaaroverzichten – Album 1983" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Scaping, Peter, ed. (1984). "Top 100 albums: 1983". BPI Year Book 1984. British Phonographic Industry. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-906154-04-9.
- "Top Pop Albums". Billboard. Vol. 95 no. 52. New York. 24 December 1983. p. TA-16.
- "Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. Vol. 41 no. 17. Toronto. 5 January 1985. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Top Pop Albums". Billboard. Vol. 96 no. 51. New York. 22 December 1984. p. TA-17. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
- "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Music Canada. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Les Albums Platine" (in French). InfoDisc. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "French album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 19 November 2020. Select THE POLICE and click OK.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Synchronicity')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
- "Dutch album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 21 August 2018. Enter Synchronicity in the "Artiest of titel" box.
- "New Zealand album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
- "British album certifications – Police – Synchronicity". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 September 2012. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Synchronicity in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 13 September 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.
- Volvic, Mitja (12 January 1985). "Pervasive Economic Slump Hits Yugoslav Industry Hard". Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 2. p. 57. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 April 2020.