August 9, 2006
Documentary directed by Stewart Copeland (who I so wanted to be in 1983) using super 8 film he shot from the time that Fall Out was played on the radio in 1978 to the demise of what could have been the biggest band in the world.
Copeland has always been a bit of a smarty pants. His narration is full of deep thoughts about adulation and hiding in hotel rooms. He has footage to show just how scary it must be to get from the backstage door to your car. There are dozens of grumpy rock stars who I can now empathize with thanks to this footage. Sting especially gets the “We Want Sting!” treatment.
Although written from the point of view of one of three extremely volatile musical geniuses who made up The Police, Copeland does less “I was better than Andy” or “Sting turned into an asshole at this point” than I was expecting. I remember an appearance that Copeland had on David Letterman during the Synchronicity madness where he described Sting getting an extra fried egg in the morning and how close they were to breaking up the band over it. “This is what may halt the biggest band in the world, Dave.”
This film will interest anyone into popular music in the 80s. We see the boys attempt the punk clubs and we see proof of Stewart’s hairband past. Because Copeland was always filming, we see as their record store appearances begin with ten people and end with cops and broken windows and crying Japanese girls.
We watch the band enter a shell. Recording the last two albums in tropical hideaways. We also see Sting carry his own suitcase which has probably never happened since.
This documentary was a bit too short for my tastes, surprisingly. I was the world’s biggest Police fan in 82 and 83. Still consider their stadium Synchronicity appearance one of the highlights of my life. But I’ve always been angry at them for breaking up when they were on top of the world. I used to try to drum like Stew with the backwards left hand and all. I enjoyed watching them in the early days playing pranks on each other and acting goofy, something that modern bands seemed to have shunned in the name of public image.
Some more insight into songwriting and studio work would have been interesting, but that would have required more from Sting. It’s nice that he and Andy are simply subjects in front of the camera and not deeper participants.
Copeland also remixes six or seven songs. We hear snippets of at least 30 more. And anyone who’s seen POLICE AROUND THE WORLD and remembers the clay-thrower who nearly got Sting to kick his ass will revel in the yelling that Mr. Sumner does in a scene that has Stew actually holding the microphone to the super 8 camera while he’s drumming.