King of Pain is the last single in the UK from The Police as a going concern. It’s not intended to be: ostensibly the group begin what is initially thought to be a temporary hiatus after this release and the completion of their current tour so that the members can spend some time apart on other projects. However, when they reunite a sixth studio album is ultimately abandoned. They present a united front to promote a re-recording of past hit Don’t Stand So Close To Me and an accompanying greatest hits collection but without any new material, essentially the group had already disbanded; an official confirmation of the split would surprise no one when “their individual talent and egos ultimately got the better of them and they fragmented” 1.
After all, the trio had already begun establishing their solo careers. Andy Summers had issued a couple of albums with Robert Fripp. Stewart Copeland had resurrected his pre-The Police Klark Kent persona as early as 1980 and had started to make his name as a soundtrack composer for the movies Rumble Fish (1983) and The Rhythmatist (1984). And Sting, in addition to an acting career, had been involved in a number of high-profile music projects without his band mates, most notably Band Aid (1984), Live Aid (1985, where he performed solo covers of hits by The Police) and an appearance in 1986 at an Amnesty International concert in Atlanta.
The title of Sting’s debut album The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) was inspired by a dream he had of three turtles on their backs, gasping for air – he took this as an omen regarding the future of his band. “This wasn’t meant to be funny,” Bob Stanley 2 notes, and he would be accused by critics of increasing pretentiousness with subsequent releases. Dave DiMartino 3 argues though that his “progression as a songwriter was a fascinating step-by-step evolution from writing light-weight wry songs about prostitutes and the seeming baby-babble of De Do Do Do De Da Da Da to addressing weightier political topics influenced by philosopher Arthur Koestler and German [sic] psychologist Carl Jung,” and Sting’s would be the only records from a former member of The Police to trouble the chart compilers.
The records kept coming though. Summers issued several solo albums before the end of the 80s including XYZ where he also performed lead vocals (the others were largely instrumental), Copeland notably wrote the theme tune to the hit TV series The Equalizer, and Sting’s …Nothing But The Sun album topped the chart. All three continue to record and perform regularly.
In 2007-2008 The Police regrouped for a 30th Anniversary tour but don’t expect to see them again. “There was nothing new in it,” complained Sting, “no new songs, no new energy, no desire to take that as a platform and move somewhere else. It was purely an exercise in nostalgia… I wouldn’t do it again.” 4
1 Larkin, Colin. “The Police”, The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Virgin Books, 1997.
2 Stanley, Bob. “Pleasantly Antagonistic: New Wave”, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Faber and Faber, 2013.
3 DiMartino, Dave. “Sting”, Singer Songwriters, Billboard Books, 1994.
4 McCormick, Neil. “Interview with Sting”, The Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 16 July 2010.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Jan. 6
ABC S.O.S. (Neutron NT106)
BIG COUNTRY (Stuart Adamson) Wonderland (Mercury COUNT5)
The COLOUR FIELD (Terry Hall) The Colour Field (Chrysalis COLF1)
DEAD OR ALIVE (Pete Burns) I’d Do Anything (Epic A4069)
The POLICE King of Pain (A&M AM176)
Malcolm MCLAREN Duck Rock Cheer (Charisma MALC7)