For most fans of The Police, the story of their penultimate album, 1981's Ghost in the Machine, is pretty cut and dried. But a forthcoming picture disc release hints at a road not taken for the beloved LP.
On November 4, UMC will reissue the record with its "original" expanded track list that was apparently shortened at the last minute. In addition to the inclusion of three non-album tracks - the haunting tracks "I Burn for You" and "Once Upon a Daydream" (released on the soundtrack to Brimstone & Treacle and the B-side of 1983's "Synchronicity II," respectively) and the instrumental jam "Shambelle" - four of the album tracks will include a brief archival treat in the form of drummer Stewart Copeland's count-ins before tracking began. (If you'd like a laugh - or an argument starter - I was thrilled to rank every Police track for Ultimate Classic Rock earlier this year.)
It's an odd and unexpected but not entirely unwelcome reappraisal of what was the band's biggest commercial effort at the time. The fractious trio decamped to George Martin's AIR Studio on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, augmenting their "white reggae" style with more elements of ska and New Wave, from blaring horns to cascading keyboards. As ever, frontman/bassist Sting wrote the bulk of the material, including the buoyant ballad "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" (a No. 1 U.K. hit and a No. 2 U.S. single), the brooding "Invisible Sun" (inspired by hunger strikes in northern Ireland, and accompanied by a video of footage from conflicts in the country that was promptly banned by the BBC), and the raucous "Demolition Man" (first recorded by Grace Jones on her smash hit Nightclubbing just months before). But Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers got some moments in the sun in the form of Stewart's closing number "Darkness" and Summers' rocker "Ωmegaman" (inspired by the post-apocalyptic horror film of the same name, based on a Richard Matheson novel and later remade under the book's title, I Am Legend, in 2007).
With its striking SISD-inspired portraiture of the band on the front cover - reportedly, no one could agree on an actual photo - Ghost in the Machine became another chart-topping album in England and reached No. 2 in America, priming the pump for the group's biggest (and ultimately final) recordings just two years later. You can revisit this expanded Ghost story at the links below, and check out the track list that could have been.
- Invisible Sun
- Demolition Man
- Secret Journey
- Spirits in the Material World *
- Too Much Information
- One World (Not Three) *
- Rehumanize Yourself *
- I Burn for You **
- Hungry for You (j'aurais toujours faim de toi) *
- Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
- Once Upon a Daydream **
- Shambelle **
* features unheard studio count-ins
** not on original album. Side 2, Track 3 released on Brimstone & Treacle (Original Soundtrack Album) - A&M AMLH 64915 (U.K.)/SP-4915 (U.S.), 1982. Side 2, Track 6 released on "Synchronicity II" single - A&M AM 153 (U.K.)/AM 2571 (U.S.), 1983. Side 2, Track 7 released on "Invisible Sun" single - A&M AMS 8164 (U.K.), 1981