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The Police Around the World - Restored & Expanded (A Music Video Review)


Starring Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland, Miles A. Copeland III, Ian Copeland, Jools Holland and Kim Turner.

Directed by Derek Burbidge.

Distributed by Mercury Studios. 115 minutes. Not Rated.

When The Police Around the World was originally released on videotape, the title band was just on the way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. Their most recent album, Ghost in the Machine (1981), had become the band’s top selling of their four albums. (It has sold over three million copies worldwide.) They were hard at work on the album which is often considered their greatest work – and their bestselling album – Synchronicity – which would end up moving over eight million units and also essentially be the group’s swan song.

By 1985, lead singer Sting had mostly placed his bets on a successful solo career, and bandmates Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland settled into nice, but less-visible careers as solo artists, band leaders and session musicians. In 1986 they started work on a potential sixth album which was eventually abandoned, with only three concerts in a 1986 Amnesty International Tour and a godawful slowed-down, contractual-obligation version of their earlier single “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” appearing as the single from their greatest hits album. In 2003, they played three songs at the concert to celebrate their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2007-2008 the band got together for a worldwide reunion tour.

To this day, that is the last we’ve heard of the band, although never say never, right?

However, even at the time of its original video release in 1982, The Police Around the World was a little bit behind the times. It was made up mostly of footage of their 1980 tour for Zenyatta Mondatta, the album which propped the band up from alternative darlings to true pop-rock stars, including the band’s first two top 10 singles, “De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” (Earlier singles “Roxanne” and “Message in a Bottle” had peaked at 32 and 74 on the Billboard charts.)

The video was not so much interested in the hits. Only one of the two Zenyatta Mondatta singles were included in the documentary (“Don’t Stand So Close to Me”) and “Message in a Bottle” was used over the end credits in the original studio recording. (A live version of “Message” also appears as one of the extras of this Blu-ray, as well as the accompanying audio CD.)

Also, the band was changing musically at that time. Ghost in the Machine, and particularly Synchronicity, strayed from the ska-reggae vibe of the first three Police albums. So this video film was a look back at a band which was already in the process of moving on, going from a cult favorite of college radio to eventually, for a white-hot moment, pretty much the biggest band in the world.

As you may guess from the title, The Police Around the World is not so much a straight concert film so much as a tour diary of the band as they travel the globe. There is lots of music here – and most of it is pretty great, with the band already growing into their rock star moves.

There is also a good amount of cheeky travelogue footage. Therefore you get to see Andy Summers sumo wrestling in Japan, Sting fooling around with rickshaws in Nepal and the guys riding camels in the Middle East. Much of it is amusing and cute, although I can’t imagine this footage is why anyone is going to check out the film, nor that anyone will spend much time rewatching this stuff.

The true selling point is strong concert performances from their first three albums Outlandos d’Amor (1977), Regatta de Blanc (1978) and Zenyatta Mondatta (1980). And, while, like I said, there weren’t many huge hits from those albums – one of which was not even used in the film, and neither of the Zenyatta Mondatta singles are on the CD version included with this set – the band still had more than its share of college radio favorites. Therefore, not-quite hits like “So Lonely,” “Can’t Stand Losing You,” “Canary in a Coal Mine,” “Walking on the Moon” and “Bring on the Night” still carry the day and make this a fantastic look at the band just as it was breaking out to superstardom.

Honestly, I hadn’t seen The Police Around the World since its original VHS incarnation, so I can’t say 100% for sure what has been added in this “expanded and restored” edition. I can say though that the restoration is fantastic, with the video and audio as crisp as if it were just recorded yesterday, not over forty years ago.

The Police Around the World is not the average “greatest hits” concert video, but then again you wouldn’t really expect that from this slightly avant garde group. Instead, it is a fascinating time capsule of a band at a specific moment in time when everything was coming together, and the possibilities were endless.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: May 25, 2022.


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