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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'The Police (2CD Anthology)' (A&M/UMe)
Artist - The Police

To kick off their overwhelmingly-anticipated reunion tour, A&M Records has released a new compilation of the Police's finest work. Unlike their previous compilations, this new compilation, titled simply "The Police," spans two discs, with 14 songs on each disc. Those old one-disc compilations always seemed shallow to me - collecting their #1's just wasn't enough. I felt that only through a 2-disc set could those unfamiliar with the Police get a feel for the group. "The Police" accomplishes that goal, providing a fine sense of the group's style through 28 tracks, ranging from their rare first single, "Fallout," to "Tea in the Sahara," which finished off the original LP of the group's final album.

"The Police" has all the greats - you know, "Roxanne," "Message in a Bottle," "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Every Breath You Take," etc. - along with a number of less-appreciated gems like "Demolition Man," "Driven to Tears," and "Bring on the Night." The breakdown of the songs picked from each album is as follows:

- "Outlandos d'Amour" (1978): 6 tracks
- "Reggatta de Blanc" (1979): 4 tracks
- "Zenyatta Mondatta" (1980): 5 tracks
- "Ghost in the Machine" (1981): 4 tracks
- "Synchronicity" (1983): 8 tracks

Every single great from "Outlandos d'Amour" is contained in the collection, and for that the set deserves some applause. Only one great is absent from "Reggatta de Blanc," but it's one of the band's most popular songs, "The Bed's Too Big Without You." Two of the band's very finest are absent from "Zenyatta Mondatta," Sting's post-apocalyptic anthem "When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around," and his delightfully pop "Man in a Suitcase." At least two tracks are overlooked from "Ghost in the Machine," "Rehumanize Yourself" and Andy Summers' bombastic fan favorite "Omegaman" (and possibly Sting's mystical "Secret Journey" as well). Needless to say, with an almost suffocating 8 tracks present, nothing from "Synchronicity" is overlooked. But the omission of those beauties mentioned above, 5 or 6 total, is upsetting. I would also have loved to see "I Burn for You," from the "Brimstone & Treacle" soundtrack, here. It's one of the group's most brilliant compositions and has been sorely neglected for years.

A rather curious aspect of this collection is the placement of the tracks. They are presented chronologically by album, but not in the order they would appear on the album, which is odd. Odder still is the decision to do that, and then to put the dreamy "Tea in the Sahara" at the end of the collection rather than the band's signature tune, "Every Breath You Take." Why not let "Tea in the Sahara" drift off into its ethereality and then finish things off with a bang with "Every Breath"? This is a minor detractor, though.

As a die-hard Police fan, I have my beefs with this compilation, but I would still highly recommend it to those unfamiliar with the band. They were truly one of the greatest groups of all time, and "The Police" is a fine way to get a sense of their style. However, due to the problems listed above, it's by no means the definitive collection, though it is the best one so far. All in all, it's a great career overview which I highly recommend.