The Police: Outlandos D'Amour (1978)

Full disclosure: Not a huge Police fan here.  Which isn't to slag the music, some of which holds up great (though my disinterest in Sting's solo career has unfortunately tainted my enjoyment of the band's work); but back in high school, they were one of those bands so omnipresent, whether on radio or MTV or just everywhere you went, that it's hard for me to enjoy them today.

Still, the first few albums retain their charm, and I'll dust them off now and then.  I'm probably most partial to the third, Zenyatta Mondatta, but the debut is pretty close, and one which I think gets too little credit these days for helping foist reggae-infused new wave into the mainstream.

While "Roxanne" has typically gotten the most attention, I just can't listen to it--that damn cultural oversaturation--and tend to skip it when I do pull out the record.  However, while they were only marginally less overplayed in the day, I don't have the same reluctance to crank up "Next To You," "So Lonely," and "Can't Stand Losing You," the triumvirate of fantastic songs that cemented the band for so many of us at the time, punk rock energy but pure pop magic.  It's easy to take them for granted all these years later, but the band was truly unique at the time--British reggae/ska infused new wave music, with a stellar drummer, a distinctive vocalist, and a guitarist whose prog roots gave the music a more textured feel that many of their peers--and each of these songs is pretty damn immortal.

But there are some winners in the deep tracks as well.  A personal fave is "Be My Girl/Sally," a silly yet fun tune, with an infectious pop hook bookending a spoken-word tale about a man's love affair with his inflatable girlfriend (apparently a common theme at the time; see Bram Tchaikovsky's impossibly perfect new-wave power pop ditty "Girl of My Dreams"). "Peanuts" is noisy and boisterous, a nod to the punk roots that had mostly been sanded off by the time they recorded the first LP; "Born in the 50s" is kinda cheesy but catchy; and "Truth Hits Everybody" is a poppy near-miss overshadowed by the album's bigger hits.

Here's the "So Lonely" video:
...and "Can't Stand Losing You":
 Here's "Next To You" live: