The Police should never have worked. On paper, none of the musicians who made up the world-conquering rock trio read like they would be anywhere near each other – not in late ‘70s Europe anyway.

Drummer Stewart Copeland was the loudmouth son of an American diplomat who’d absorbed the rhythms of every country he’d lived in. Singer/bassist Gordon Sumner, who dared to turn a nickname over a silly outfit into the mysterious cool-guy mononym Sting, was a small-town hyper-literate with big dreams and a penchant for capturing affairs of the heart and mind in stunningly catchy songs. Andy Summers became their second guitarist, after original axeman Henry Padovani didn’t know enough chords for Sting’s liking. Summers was 10 years their senior, coming up on the back of the British Invasion with a gift for sonic texture in a way that most of his contemporaries didn’t.

They tried to co-opt the burgeoning punk scene in England but were rightly seen as pretenders. “The truth is, we liked the energy of punk, but we couldn't really be a part of it,” Sting told Revolver in 2000. “One of our problems was we were quite good at playing our instruments. That was definitely a handicap.” So they hit the pavement, somehow making it work, song by song. Gradually, listeners in country after country started to take notice, and in six years, they were the world’s biggest band.

Then, at the height of that success – with a Grammy-winning, chart-topping pop song that remains one of the most played on the planet – they packed it in. Outside of one abortive attempt at making an old song new and a victorious reunion tour in the 21st century, the Police stayed apart, helping the mystique around their five live-wire studio albums stand tall. Their image, outlook and sound influenced acts of every shape and size, from Nirvana and Incubus to Phish, Primus and even Bruno Mars.

Between five albums and a scattering of non-album singles, B-sides and soundtrack appearances, there are a lot of thrilling highs and lows for such a small but potent body of work. (We’re of course not including live recordings – just play the songs faster to get a sense of what the Police are like in concert – or rerecordings of “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” or “Truth Hits Everybody” that aren’t particularly transformative.) Wrap your drumming hands in duct tape and get ready to count ‘em off.

70. “A Kind of Loving”
From: Brimstone & Treacle Soundtrack (1982)

One of a few instrumentals featured in a British drama that starred Sting, this dreadful offering mixes noisy band dissonance with the sound of a woman shrieking. Fun!

69. “Born in the 50’s”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

Any last gasps at appealing to punks went out the window with this cringe-y “I’m not like you, Dad” screed about recent British history. “They screeeeeeamed when the Beatles sang”? So will you, when this one comes on.

68. “Flexible Strategies”
From: “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” single (1981)

Despite their musical prowess, the handful of instrumental jams that backed a few Police singles – evidently not good enough for the albums – is pretty boring.

67. “How Stupid Mr. Bates”
From: Brimstone & Treacle Soundtrack (1982)

Here’s another boring instrumental, spiced up in the beginning by a neat little synthesizer part but quickly forgotten.

66. “Shambelle”
From: “Invisible Sun” single (1981)

Sting already made the “Shambles” joke about this instrumental in the liner notes to Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings. Who are we to repeat it?

65. “Murder by Numbers”
From: “Every Breath You Take” single (1983)

This facile ode to the ways of committing the perfect crime closed Synchronicity on CD – and threw off the rhythm of their final studio album in the process.

64. “Mother”
From: Synchronicity (1983

Considered to be among the worst of the band’s tracks, this sonic heart attack (written and scream-sung by Andy Summers) is an ironic rewrite of John Lennon’s track of the same name.

63. “Hungry for You (j’aurais tojours faim de toi)”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

Sting was a proven musical multi-linguist ever since Spanish and Japanese versions of “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” found their way onto an international single. But this hammy lust song in French is not one of his better demonstrations of a foreign tongue, no matter how infectious the ska-lite groove is.

62. “Nothing Achieving”
From: “Fall Out” single (1977)

The problems with the Police’s debut single were twofold: original guitarist Henry Padovani knew a minimal amount of chords (making him technically the most “punk” member of the group), and Stewart Copeland handled the songwriting. The results were a fairly embryonic version of what they’d later achieve with Summers on guitar and Sting in the songwriter’s spotlight.

61. "Bombs Away"
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

Copeland’s fascination with global political intrigue (his father was a charter member in what became the CIA) may have given him a leg (and an arm) up when dishing out killer drum licks. But it didn’t translate into the Police’s best songwriting.

60. “Canary in a Coalmine”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

Sometimes it felt like Sting would do anything for a rhyme at the peak of his powers. Matching “Firenze” with “influenza” is one of the Police’s most astonishing “did he sing that?” moments.

59. “Landlord”
From: “Message in a Bottle” single (1979)

It’s humbling, in the 21st century, to hear the current owner of an Italian villa spit out an angry tune about the predatory renter’s market since it hasn’t changed in the decades since this was written. But that doesn’t necessarily make it good.

58. “Be My Girl/Sally”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

Sting writes an archetypal rock riff (many were heard on Outlandos d’Amour) and then the whole thing comes crashing to a halt with Summers’ ridiculous poem about the titular heroine, who is … a sex doll.

57. “The Other Way of Stopping”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980

The instrumentals that did make Police LPs at least have some cool moments within them. Here, credit goes to some great building guitar chimes from Summers, whose guitar tone was rarely uninteresting.

56. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ‘86”
From: Every Breath You Take: The Singles (1986)

The Police’s effective epitaph was the synthetic and moody “Don’t Stand ‘86,” one of two re-recordings attempted for a greatest hits project. (The other, a turgid take on “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” was released by accident nearly 20 years later.) Copeland could only program a drum machine due to a polo injury, but it at least feels like his handiwork – and Summers’ guitar theatrics lend a special new shade to an already well-loved song.

55. “O My God”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

Outtakes indicate Sting was sitting on these lyrics for a while; too bad they ended up on a ska tune that sounded like it was too weak for Ghost in the Machine.

54. “Miss Gradenko”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

Synchronicity’s sole songwriting concession to Copeland was this quirky cut about some sort of forbidden love among authoritarian rule, or something.

53. “Peanuts”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

Another half-hearted attempt at punk from the first album, “Peanuts” addresses one of the biggest concerns of punk rock: sniping at celebs in tabloids.

52. “Contact”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Summers’ circular guitar riff and Sting’s low, foreboding verses don’t exactly jell with the strong-voiced but weak-willed chorus of this Reggatta de Blanc album cut.

51. “Masoko Tanga”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

One of the better Police instrumentals, thanks to Sting’s arresting dubby bass tone and some vocal hiccups that are only a little dampened by the nonsense patois he’s singing in.

50. “Walking in Your Footsteps”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

If the opening title track didn’t indicate how different Synchronicity was going to be from the preceding Police projects, this song made it clear. Sting compares growing fears over nuclear proliferation to the downfall of the dinosaurs while Copeland and Summers wind themselves tight into a minimal groove.

49. “Deathwish”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Even if the between-verse riffs shamelessly ape what the Police did on “Can’t Stand Losing You,” this number is one of the hidden gems of the group’s breakout sophomore album.

48. “A Sermon”
From: “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” single (1980)

With three U.K. No. 1 singles under their belts (“Message in a Bottle,” "Walking on the Moon" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me"), the Police used the flip side to “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” to wax rhapsodic on what it’s like to claw your way to the top of the pops — no matter what the cost.

47. “Ωmegaman”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

A Summers-penned ripper inspired by the 1971 film of the same name (later remade slightly closer to its source material, Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend). While Ghost in the Machine brimmed with some of Sting’s poppiest writing, A&M Records wanted this to be its lead single!

46. “It’s Alright for You”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Co-written by Copeland, “It’s Alright for You” feels very much in line with his underrated, pseudonymous side project Klark Kent (which broke into the Top 40 before the Police did) – only not quite as strong as what Kent issued.

45. “Rehumanize Yourself”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

The middle of Ghost in the Machine finds the trio, slowly fracturing under the sun at AIR Studios on the island of Montserrat, saying “fuck it” and going full New Wave/ska as if they were trying to beat The (English) Beat. The cop-siren saxes of “Rehumanize Yourself” unsettle the listener ahead of rapid-fire condemnations of violence, committed by ordinary citizens and cops alike.

44. “Too Much Information”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

More effective in the Ghost in the Machine reggae rave-up is this slow pogo of an album cut, where Sting and Copeland slam on the beat while a whole wall of saxes chugs along.

43. “No Time This Time”
From: “So Lonely” single (1978)/Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

As prolific as Sting was, the Police were short on material when starting, to the point they closed their second album with a previously released B-side. Copeland’s manic drumming and a harried chorus add some pep to the proceedings.

42. “Hole in My Life”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

The Police’s punk aspirations would be sloughed off well before the needle drops on “Hole in My Life,” a sad man’s lament that audaciously matches “vulnerable” with “incurable” in the bridge. Johnny Rotten would never.

41. “One World (Not Three)”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

Already lending his talents to charitable causes like Amnesty International's Secret Policeman’s Other Ball (one of his first appearances as a soloist), “One World” combined Sting’s class-conscious lyrics with a catchy, ska-inspired horn hook.

40. “Someone to Talk To”
From: “Wrapped Around Your Finger” single (1983)

Written and sung by Andy Summers to channel the pain of his recent divorce from his second wife Kate a year earlier. Vocally, he’s no Sting, but he channels the hurt ably – and things ended up working out: the pair remarried four years later and remain together to this day.

39. “Fall Out”
From: non-album single (1977)

An embryonic look into what Sting and company would be selling in stadiums in just a few short years. His urgent yowl and Copeland’s un-fussy backing (he’d play drums and guitar after original axeman Henry Padovani got cold feet) made the Police’s debut acquitting if not arresting. Mick Jagger agreed in a review for Sounds, deeming it “competently played rock, with nasal annihilated vocals.”

39. “Dead End Job”
From: “Can’t Stand Losing You” single (1978)

Sting could speak from experience about the economic crunches that British punks reacted to; while eking out work as a musician, he’d toiled as a bus conductor, a tax collector and a teacher. Summers’ ongoing narration – taken from a classified ads page – makes the affair a bit more blue-collar.

37. “Does Everyone Stare”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Reggatta de Blanc’s penultimate track is a woozy groove propelled by Copeland’s pen (and piano) before Sting assumes the role of a hard-luck lover. It doesn’t go further than around in circles, but it’s hard to fault them when they sound this good.

36. “Friends”
From: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” single (1980)

Sinister and silly combine on this Zenyatta Mondatta-era B-side, inspired by the sci-fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land and cheekily described by writer-singer Summers as “a touch of Long John Silver on acid.” Sting puts that immediately recognizable voice to good use on the chorus with a cascade of vocal parts.

35. “Darkness”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

If you’d survived the sonic changes of Ghost in the Machine — ringing keyboards and clattering saxophones among them — you’d hear them put to good use on the album’s final track, a Copeland-penned poem that wearily if accurately posits that “life was easy when it was boring.”

34. “Synchronicity I”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

The sequencer-heavy opener to the final Police album — and one of its two title tracks — explicitly laid down the Jungian theory of psychology that Sting claimed fueled most of the project. (We think the fuel was the trio’s solid interplay, despite not getting along personally.)

33. “Behind My Camel”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

One of the more accomplished Police instrumentals, thanks to Summers’ Eastern-influenced guitar work. Sting hated the track so much that he refused to play on it and buried the final tape in the ground outside the studio. But he had no issue picking up a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance alongside his bandmates!

32. “Low Life”
From: “Spirits in the Material World” single (1981)

Neither Summers nor Copeland could agree on this catchy B-side about the same sort of red-light districts that would inspire breakthrough “Roxanne.” The drummer maintains he “always liked the song,” while the guitarist says they both hate it. One thing’s for sure, though: that sax solo is intense.

31. “Once Upon a Daydream”
From: “Synchronicity II” single (1983)

Sting’s hypnotic delivery of this B-side about a forbidden love that ends in tragedy is one of the most affecting non-album tracks of the Police’s career. Summers’ arresting, almost backward-sounding chordal groove puts this track on another level.

30. “Shadows in the Rain”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

That behind-the-beat vocal and the minimal, bombed-out take on an unfussy jazz/blues groove add up to one of the Police's most interesting deep cuts. Sting thought highly enough of it to re-record it when he eventually went solo.

29. “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Most of the Police’s more reggae-influenced songs had some sort of pop or alternative twist. “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” goes full island mode, right down to the drum-and-bass breakdown in the middle – a powerhouse for Copeland’s off-kilter backbeat.

28. “Man in a Suitcase”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

The Police famously embarked on a world tour hours after wrapping sessions for Zenyatta Mondatta, and this jumpy confessional about life on the road summed up their feelings. “It was cutting it very fine,” Copeland would later muse.

27. “On Any Other Day”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Arguably Copeland’s best song for the band, his droll delivery from the POV of an Everyman whose life is falling apart lulls you into a false sense of security before the excellent ironic twist at the end of the tune: the madness is unfolding on the singer’s birthday.

26. “Voices Inside My Head”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

As rushed as the Police felt Zenyatta Mondatta was, parts of it were a master class in minimalism. Case in point: this focused single-chord dub with only two lyrics in the back half of the song.

25. “Truth Hits Everybody”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

Even if the Police’s fortunes as punks were doomed to failure, “Truth Hits Everybody” proved the viability of combining two intensely trained rockers with a singer who delivered dark musings on the nature of man that was as thrilling to listen to as they were astoundingly complex to read.

24. “Visions of the Night”
From: “Walking on the Moon” single (1979)

One of the group’s earliest songs was first laid down in a one-off project called Strontium 90 with bassist Mike Howlett – the first time Sting and Copeland joined forces with Summers in the studio. Easily one of the group’s best obscurities.

23. “So Lonely”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

The Police’s most unapologetically reggae-influenced single – Sting has since admitted he borrowed all the chords from Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” – still feels like they’re working their tone out as a band. But once the song crests over that hill into the pogoing chorus, you can’t help but wonder how and why no one’s knocked upon their doors for a thousand years or more.

22. “Spirits in the Material World”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

The polished head-fake of Ghost in the Machine began from the first song. It sounded like your typical Police single (down to the off-kilter rhythm), but Summers’ guitar shared space with a synthesizer pushed up into the mix. Audiences were unfazed; the single reached the Top 20 worldwide.

21. “Next to You”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

The first song of the Police’s first album was a textbook example of the push-pull between band members. Sting repudiated Summers and Copeland when they suggested he rewrite the chorus as “all I want is to take a gun to you,” relegating them to permanent punk pretenders but promising something more in the process.

20. “Secret Journey”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

A dark horse favorite of each member of the band, this Ghost in the Machine deep cut was released as a single in America. It just missed the Top 40, which means a stunning amount of folks were hearing that much guitar-synth wash over the airwaves in 1982.

19. “Reggatta de Blanc”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

A combination of too little material and too many chops resulted in this sublime instrumental, built from a live jam during the bridge of “Can’t Stand Losing You.” “Reggatta de Blanc” underlined the Police’s prowess as players, earning them their first of two back-to-back Grammy Awards in the nascent Best Rock Instrumental Performance category.

18. “Tea in the Sahara”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

Another literary adaptation (this time inspired by Paul Bowles’ existential novel The Sheltering Sky), the downbeat closer to Synchronicity spins a fable about broken promises – a fitting end to the fractious band’s final album.

17. “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

The frenetic minimalism of Zenyatta Mondatta is a blessing or a curse, depending on your viewpoint. On this delirious dance drone cut about a man going insane in a post-apocalyptic world, the pluses outweighed the minuses, thanks in no small part to that ass-shaking bassline.

16. “Driven to Tears”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

Touring on continents most rock bands didn’t travel to help the Police go global – but it also helped alert Sting to the harsh truths of inequality in non-white nations. Five years before Live Aid, “Driven to Tears” accurately depicted the discomfort of privilege in the face of struggle; it also served as Sting’s first step toward becoming one of rock’s most visible humanitarians.

15. “Invisible Sun”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

Arguably the most unusual of the Police’s mainstream singles, this haunting, synth-driven ode to the horrors of war ended up being banned by the BBC but still reached No. 2 on the U.K. charts. Sting wrote it about “The Troubles,” while Copeland empathized with it as bombs were going off around the same time in Beirut, where he’d grown up.

14. “Wrapped Around Your Finger”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

By the time “Wrapped Around Your Finger” was released, the Police already enjoyed a massive chart-topper in America. But reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 with this single may have been an even greater coup for the band, now so powerful that Sting could stuff Greek myths and references to Faust in his acid-tongued songs and let the sales roll in.

13. “Walking on the Moon”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Sting came up with this spacious bassline while drunk in a hotel room, strapping on his instrument and contentedly singing “walking ‘round the room” to himself. Summers’ ringing chords and the soaring vocal further established the group’s prowess after “Message in a Bottle” topped the British charts.

12. “I Burn for You”
From: Brimstone & Treacle Soundtrack (1982)

A brilliant love song buried on an unremarkable soundtrack album, “I Burn for You” is easily the Police’s best non-album track – full of the kind of fiery passion everyone thinks is a part of “Every Breath You Take.”

11. “Bring on the Night”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Summers’ learned pre-Police resume – including stints with Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, the Animals, Soft Machine and a half-dozen others – became an asset to the Police on tracks like “Bring on the Night.” Its arpeggiated guitar riff (think Jimmy Page meets Heitor Villa-Lobos) is one of the band’s catchiest.

10. “Can’t Stand Losing You”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

It’s almost funny to think of the lengths the Police briefly went to convince audiences of their punk pedigrees. (When Outlandos d’Amour came out, the band had recently played a punk outfit in a never-aired chewing gum commercial that fatefully required the trio to bleach their hair blonde.) Sting and Copeland were a few years from 30 – and Summers was nearly 40 – when “Can’t Stand Losing You,” a woe-is-me rocker about lost love, came calling. And maybe it’s just musical beer goggles, but when they played it, you believed it … whatever “it” was.

9. “Synchronicity II”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

Looking at it one way, the story of Synchronicity is that of a guitarist and drummer elbowing for space as their increasingly moody frontman, writhing in the throes of divorce, flexes his songwriting muscles like a golden Mr. Universe of rock. Obsessed with the Jungian concept of seemingly unrelated circumstances taking on a meaningful parallel, Sting penned two tracks about the subject; “Synchronicity II” was a rocker so undeniable that it didn’t matter what was coming out of the bottom of the Scottish lake.

8. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

Let’s get it out of the way: Despite holding a teaching job before becoming a rock icon, Sting insists the illicit relationship of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” has no basis in fact. “To be frank, it was right in our market. A lot of teenage girls were buying our records,” he told the Independent in 1993. “So the idea was, let's write a Lolita story.” Anchored by a deep sense of foreboding and sharp pop sensibilities – plus Summers’ wild Echoplex guitar effects in the bridge that sound like an oncoming train – “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” finally solidified the Police in America, giving them their first Top 10 hit.

7. “Demolition Man”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

However much vitriol flowed through the band’s veins when putting together their penultimate album, the Police had an uncanny knack for taking all those high emotions and making brilliant shapes from that heated clay. This six-minute bullet train of a song – first recorded by Grace Jones, of all people – is one of the Police’s most breathless workouts, with Copeland’s drum kit (the one he famously wrote “Fuck Off You Cunt” to Sting on his four rack toms) racing a bleating horn section to the finish line.

6. “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”
From: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

“In that song,” Sting confessed to NME in 1981, “I was trying to say something which was really quite difficult – that people like politicians, like myself even, use words to manipulate people, and that you should be very careful.” It remains to be seen if people were considering the deep meaning as they boogied to the rhythm and sang along to the intentionally facile chorus, but “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” is the Police at their most archetypal, and a prime example of their ability to grab audiences with the simplest concepts.

5. “King of Pain”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

Like some sort of hellish version of Roxy Music’s “More Than This,” “King of Pain” found Sting at perhaps his most melodramatic following his split from first wife Frances Tomelty. Gazing on a Jamaican beach with a new partner (and eventually second wife) Trudie Styler, he remarked about a little black spot in his sights: “That’s my soul up there.” (This is the tantric sex guy?) Thank God the other guys humored him: that singsong piano hook, the melodic bass and a simple, effective solo by Summers make what could have been a pity party into a sterling pop/rock offering that not even "Weird Al" Yankovic could improve upon.

4. “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”
From: Ghost in the Machine (1981)

In a catalog littered with sad bastard songs, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” stands out as one of the Police’s most brilliant rays of sunshine. It’s also an example of their delicate, symbiotic tension: Sting cut a demo of the long-gestating tune with a cascade of keyboards by session player Jean Roussel. Unimpressed, Summers and Copeland tried valiantly to break the track out of its shell but ended up recording distinctive polyrhythmic drums and scratchy guitar under the demo in just one take. The result: a heart-pounding love song for the ages, and one that topped the U.K. charts and hit No. 3 in America.

3. “Every Breath You Take”
From: Synchronicity (1983)

In the time it took you to get this far into the list, this song has probably earned Sting a significant chunk of royalties. One of the most played singles of all time, “Every Breath You Take” stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks and won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1984 – the year Michael Jackson won nearly every other major trophy. The deceptive lyrics that people think sound romantic, the plain-spoken guitar riff from Summers (rescued under a planned layer of Hammond B3 organ); hell, Puff Daddy sample … nothing takes away from the Police’s final act of world domination, and no attempt to match it since, from U2 to Coldplay, has come close.

2. “Roxanne”
From: Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

Adding reggae to straight-ahead rock 'n' roll – especially from two Brits and an American – is, in theory, a foolhardy gesture. So is adding elements of tango, writing a florid and fiery number fantasizing about a prostitute you couldn’t afford, and even mistakenly plopping on a piano as the tape for your vocal take is rolling. “Roxanne” did all of these things, and by God, it worked. (It's famously the song that got Copeland's brother Miles to take the band seriously, serving as their manager – and later, Sting's.) Summers’ razor-sharp guitar chomps, Copeland’s whip-crack drumming, that tidal wave of a vocal: they were the first real heralds of a new kind of band about to take over the world in just a few tears of the calendar.

1. “Message in a Bottle”
From: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

“Every Breath You Take” might have been the apex of the Police’s mountain voyage, and “Roxanne” the first piton dug into the side of the rock face. But “Message in a Bottle” was the boot landing confidently on those jagged stones as they made their way up to the summit. A foolishly simple guitar riff devised by Sting but played to perfection by Summers and a cacophony of percussive brilliance by Copeland makes the track impossibly rewarding. (“To watch some band in a Holiday Inn struggling to play all those overdubs still gives me great joy,” Copeland later quipped.) But it’s also Sting’s most plainspoken and razor-sharp lyric, depicting a castaway desperate for someone to hear his testimonial, only to discover untold messages washing up on his idyllic shores. There’s only so much time to suspend yourself in mid-air and marvel at the dramatic irony and universality of desired connection before the Police come roaring back through the speakers to remind you of their effortless musical gifts. “I hope that someone gets my …”? Mission accomplished.

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