Outlandos D’Americas/Regatta Mondatta II

Outlandos D’Americas

Various Artists

Ark 21

Regatta Mondatta II

Various Artists

Ark 21

Despite its ground-breaking music and attitude, the Police, arguably one of the most influential and under-appreciated bands of the ’80s, have remained mostly ignored by our current “retro” revival. By blending a large and widely differing set of influences, the band managed to popularize a sound that was all their own, and quite unlike anything that had been heard before — a blend of rock, reggae, jazz, and other influences whose reverberations are still felt today. Two recent tribute compilations from Ark 21 (and a third one released previously) work on filling in that blank spot.

Regatta Mondatta II is the second album of reggae covers of Police songs, and it features well-known artists like Third World, Inner Circle and Aswad covering a fair range of songs. Every Police album (there were only five) is represented. I’m not sure what the first volume of Reggata Mondatta was like, but this is insipid, to put it kindly. Most of the songs are delivered in a glossy, innocuous manner — think “Sundays! Reggae at the Hilton! Live Band! Drink Specials!” While there can be no argument that the Police used reggae as the launching point for their career and a lot of their music, there was a lot more to them than that, and sadly most of these artists fail to find suitable replacements for those elements. A couple of notable exception exist (esp. Toots and the Maytals’ closing “Canary In A Coalmine”), but for the large part this is for fans of Sunday Hilton reggae, and not the Police.

Outlandos D’Americas is a different matter entirely. Bringing together a stellar roster of Latin American and Spanish bands, the album provides entirely fresh interpretations of the band’s music, not only taking the music and reinterpreting it in new and different ways, but recreating the lyrics into Spanish, often adding new twists and dimensions in translation. Both Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers make guest appearances (with Saul Hernandez on “Sera Que Todos the Acechan?/Does Everyone Stare” and Gustavo Serati on “Traeme La Noche/Bring on the Night,” respectively). The touches afforded by the original players reveal how profoundly their unique styles (e.g. Copeland’s skittering high hat, Summer’s liquid chording) have influenced these bands. Unlike Regatta Mondatta II , these versions are fiery and passionate, and do justice to the originals. Truly a worthwhile addition to any Police collection.

Ark 21, 14724 Ventura Blvd., Penthouse Suite, Sherman Oakes, CA 91403; http://www.ark21.com

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