October 2, 1992
This was the second Greatest Hits compilation to be released, following 1986's 'Every Breath You Take - The Singles'.
- Can't Stand Losing You
- So Lonely
- Message in a Bottle
- Walking on the Moon
- The Bed's Too Big Without You
- Don't Stand So Close to Me
- De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
- Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
- Invisible Sun
- Spirits in the Material World
- Synchronicity II
- Every Breath You Take
- King of Pain
- Wrapped Around Your Finger
- Tea in the Sahara
Review from Q magazine by David Sinclair
All songs written by Sting it says under the 16 titles on Greatest Hits - 15 of them Top 20 hits, five of them Number 1's. As an epitaph for The Police, this simple statement of fact could hardly be bettered. For, if Sting had needed drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers more and they had depended on him less, it's just conceivable that one of the great rock groups of our time might still be functioning.
But, when in 1985, the photogenic bass player's first, tentative efforts to establish a solo career yielded immediate and handsome rewards, the group he had transformed (creatively) from pseudo-punk hopefuls into a pan-global colossus was ruthlessly cut dead in its prime.
Now The Police are a fading memory - no idle talk of reunions for them - and to coincide with a slack period in the cycle of Sting's multi-platinum activities, A&M Records has assembled, for the second time, a collection of the group's most successful songs.
What is most striking about this superb body of work, is the lean economy of the arrangements and the directness of expression in the lyrics, especially given the wearyingly verbose nature of the songs on Sting's recent albums. Indeed, compare the brisk, alert stride and neatly ordered punch lines of 'Roxanne', 'Can't Stand Losing You', 'Walking On The Moon', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Message In A Bottle' to any of the songs on 'Soul Cages' and it becomes clear that Copeland and Summers were far more than a passive vehicle for Sting's songs. As powerful personalities and assertive musicians in their own right, they gingered up Sting's basic ideas while putting the brakes on his tendency to earnest excess. If Sting had proposed 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles' as the title of a The Police album, the other two would have laughed him out of the house.
Sting, of course, has had the last laugh and Summers and Copeland will doubtless be glad of the extra revenue which this latest compilation will generate. Flung together with a casual lack of effort extending from the obvious choice of tracks to the lazy, generic title, the album is a virtual re-run of the 13-track 'Every Breath You Take - Singles', released in 1986. 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', 'King Of Pain', 'Invisible Sun' and the other big hits are all duplicated, while 'Synchronicity II' and 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' are the two major additions. There are no remixes, no remasters, no alternative takes, and no new single is being released to promote the album. Only the idiosyncratic choice of 'Tea In The Sahara' - a minor track from 'Synchronicity' - as filler right at the end of the disc, is likely to excite any comment. And that would only be to ponder why it's there.
The songs are still great and presumably the assumption is that many people who have invested in a CD player since the time of the last retrospective will welcome a fresh chance to buy in to this superb legacy. As a straight-down-the-line exercise in milking the market, 'Greatest Hits' thus takes some beating.