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'Howay the Lad'
on 11 April 2008
The Police (splendidly ironic name, given the crimes they regularly got away with) are guilty as charged and their last somnambulistic studio album, all gaseous protest and Caribbean sun-tanned 'caring,' = an absolute drag.
To be fair(!), there's actually a couple of good songs on 'Synchronicity': 'Every Breath' is strong, but 'Synchronicity II' is a minor revelation.
Where Gordon dug this up is a mystery: steaming rock guitar riffing and passionate vocals? Steady on, there. The irony can't have been lost on him, tho .. the powerful left-wing lyrics must've seemed particularly convulsive as he sat in a Bahamas recording studio (this at a time when all these darling groups went to Montserrat or the Riviera to record albums. Why is beyond me, each and every one came back a disaster. Check out the Durannies, or even the Happy Mondays for irrefutable proof).
It has an exciting prog-style 'II' in the title (perhaps that's where Gordon's loyalties really lie - Cocktail Prog(!)), and sticks out like a sore thumb from the calculated, moribund rest of 'Synchronicity'
After the exertions of 'II', it's pretty obvious Gordon and the rest of the band, (Summers, going longer than Pink Floyd and The Who PUT TOGETHER; and Copeland, lanky twit drummer with a style borrowed from that one off the Muppets.) were worn out, so they put down a pile of filler and headed off to the beach for a lie down.
Summers (and the first time anyone wrote about him, they were using 12-point copperplate and quills!) is particularly dull. Get up, play some feeble guitar, lie on the beach, have a little drink and a snooze .. Collect cash. Nice work if you can get it. Fortunately for him, being dreary isn't a crime in rock, otherwise we'd have anarchy, so he shoulders only a small portion of blame for 'Synchronicity'.
The finger of accusation must point at Gordon, who is determined to stamp his creative authority on proceedings and doesn't give a hoot that his creativity isn't really worth a jot.
He waffles on about dinosaurs and murderers in abject isolation; thinking he's being really insightful and interesting, but in reality, he's boring everyone rigid.
There's two words I always try to use in my reviews. One is 'looney' which doesn't really apply here and the other is 'worthy' - a horrid, nasty slight, implying the worst nadir of any art-form, but a word that could've been specially coined for Gordon.
The 80's was full of 'worthies'. Lacklustre half-talents (and if for some reason you want to check 'em out, have a butchers at the 'Do They Know it's Christmas' video. Most of them are there), any surprise or spirit long since ebbed away, but still wanting to be seen to be DOING THEIR BIT.
Gordon was king in this company: "Hey, I'm a working class millionaire but never mind me...look at this rain forest guy with a plate in his lip that I've dragged halfway across the world and put on TV in a dire and misguided attempt to show how caring I really am in my millions (and I've got ANOTHER solo album out .. that nobody's buying!)."
The worst kind of pop star, one who's filament wasn't blinding to begin with but ending up being as weak and uncomfortable as that poor rain forest guy, thousands of miles from home, plonked like a freak-show in completely alien surroundings but still having a nobility and charisma Gordon can only drool after.
This desperation and thinly disguised self-aggrandizement runs like veins through all of Gordon's 'work' and here it's at an annoyingly high level.
To say 'Synchronicity' is limp is like saying Hitler's idea of a final solution was slightly flawed. Gordon may think he's walking on rock's wild side but he's not fooling anyone. We can all see that whatever he did have in his well of limited talent in the first place has now completely run dry, and all the faux roots, jazzy licks and lounge crooning in the world won't change that.
I don't normally feel sympathy for the likes of Gordon: working class people who've made squillions from other working class people who, in turn, will 'like' a certain music because it's drummed into them - but allow me a twinge.. 'Synchronicity' may be insipid and lukewarm but it's 'Astral Weeks' compared to his solo work.
It should've been called 'Sycophantically'.