Music Review Series: Looking Back On The 80’s Music | 1980 Then and Now
Zenyatta Mondatta ~The Police
Released: October 3, 1980
Genres: Pop rock, Reggae rock, Post-punk
Line Up: Sting – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, synthesizers | Andy Summers – guitar, backing vocals, guitar-synths, bass guitar, piano | Stewart Copeland – drums, backing vocals
Produced By: Nigel Gray
Purchase On: iTunes / Amazon
I didn’t discover Zenyatta Mondatta until my college years. In fact, it was the last Police album, of the five, that I bought. However, it became one of my favorite road trip albums.
Zenyatta Mondatta was the third studio album for the Police and apparently recorded while on their second tour of Europe. Unfortunately, they were unable to record, Zenyatta Mondatta in the same studio of their previous two albums. Adding to the pressure, the band was coming into the studio after two monster album successes. And to make matters worse, the band was almost unable to record with their standing producer, Nigel Gray.
Not surprisingly, the band members have all expressed disappointment over recording this album and even re-recorded two of the songs at a later date. Interestingly, the two songs they re-recorded were the first two singles released, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”. Both songs were hits and both stand out as the strongest tracks, with “Driven to Tears”, “Canary in a Coalmine” and “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around” following close behind. Knowing more of the history of recording while on tour, explains the inspiration behind, “Man in a Suitcase”.
Zenyatta Mondatta marks the last of the band’s early years. When you compare this album to other four, it feels a little different and sounds a little different too. Take “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”, it goes perfectly with previously recorded songs like, “Message In A Bottle” or “Walking On The Moon”, yet it has a quality that points to the Ghost In The Machine and beyond.
In the historical context of The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta stands well on its own legs, even 36 years later. It may not have made Rolling Stone’s 500 Best Albums of All Time, but it is still a Police album and these guys made great music. Zenyatta Mondatta reached #1 in both Australia and the U.K.[Wikipedia-1] In the U.S., the album spent almost three years on the charts and peaked at #5.[Wikipedia-17] It is an undeniably fun album to listen to. Though the band didn’t feel it was their best effort, most bands would to have loved to achieved what Sting and crew considered a disappointing record.