Music: Sending Out An S.O.S.

A message (sans bottle) for The Police -- don't do it!

J.D. Cutter

The Police

To Mssrs. Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland and Gordon "Sting" Sumner,

Hi, The Police! You probably don't know me (unless you read all of your fanmail in the '80s and recall each person who wrote), but my name is Mike Breen and I was an ardent, obsessive fan. Your music meant the world to me.

When I say obsessive, I'm not just talking "I have all your albums!" I'm talking astronaut-lady-driving-900-miles-in-a-diaper obsessive. The small bedroom I shared with my brother growing up had two entire walls covered with your pictures. I would buy two copies of any magazine you were prominently featured in (remember those Creem "special editions" dedicated to you?), so I could save one and cut up the other. My friends and I would put on concerts on my parents' living room couch as The Police, lip-synching to your greatest hits (which, to me, were all of them). One of my first concerts was seeing you play at the Riverfront Coliseum on the Ghost in the Machine tour. I bought a T-shirt (of course!)

and ripped the sleeves off to try to look like you guys in all those photos shot in Montserrat.

Oddly, I never dyed my hair blonde, though I tried and in the process discovered that hydrogen peroxide is not the kind of peroxide you dye your hair with. See, you even taught me about chemistry.

I came across your music as I was beginning to discover what has more recently been called "Alternative" music. Sting, your English Beat T-shirt nudged me to look into Ska. I sought out the Punk and New Wave bands on I.R.S. Records (Stew's bro's label) because of you. Your music's dabbling with Reggae made me seek out real Reggae bands. And I started playing music because of your albums. I even started on bass, because Sting made it look so sexy (Stingster, you're still one of the best singer/bassists ever).

Anyway, The Police were my ALL TIME FAVORITE BAND probably longer than any group other than The Beatles. For some reason, I wasn't completely devastated when you broke up. I had already seen you a couple times in concert. And, frankly, you guys always sounded like you were going to kill each other in interviews. I guess I resigned quickly to the fact that it was in your best interests to not be a band anymore. As a fan of all of your solo work (from the Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack to Klark Kent to Andy's records with Robert Fripp), I figured I'd still get my Police fix, just in varying incarnations.

Then Sting started making solo records. I loved that first one, when you paid all those great Jazz guys to play with you. I even went to see your first solo tour (I will forever remember where I was when Pete Rose hit his record-breaking single because I was at your concert at Riverbend and you told me — and the thousands of others there — about it from the stage). But by your second album, you started to make me sleepy. Now, I know that everyone grows up and people change, but could you please tell me exactly why you started turning into Phil Collins?

Anyway, last Sunday I watched you guys on the Grammys, your first public performance in years. It was a bit brief (one song?), but it was a nostalgic kick to see you play on stage together again. Plenty enough.

Now you're reuniting for a full-scale, 80-city world tour. Now, I know your probably having fun playing the old songs and you'll have enough money to buy a small fleet of gold-plated, diamond-studded yachts when it's all over, but please think of your fans. Think about me. Think about your legacy.

I've already had my memories of your greatness tainted by Sting's dreadfully boring solo work. I'm sure you will still be good in concert, but I truly doubt you (well, Sting) will be able to replicate that feisty energy of your younger, hungrier days. Now you are going to do to me what The Who and The Stones have done — update my memory bank with images of the current you (which, honestly, isn't as flattering as the former you).

When I think about The Police now, I think about your best album, Reggatta de Blanc, and early concert videos where Sting is yelling at some young, disruptive punk in the crowd, ready to dive in after him. If you reunite now, I'll just remember the big cash-in and the "all-the-hits revue." Sting, if you're heckled now, you can just throw money in the heckler's face.

But seriously — I'm not being selfish. I'm also thinking about you three. Look — all the best bands break-up. The ones that don't turn into the Stones (at best) or Paul Revere and the Raiders (at worst). Real quick, think of a humongous band that broke up, then returned 20 years later and were better than ever. Can you think of one band that did that and continued to be relevant or even remotely comprable to their old selves? Me neither.

I can imagine Stewart and Andy are having visions of this going beyond a cash-cow tour, thinking "Maybe we can write some new songs and recapture that magic." Uh, you've heard Sting's solo material, right? As great as you guys are, if you made a new album, it would just be a Sting solo album with some kick-ass guitar and drums.

I'm sure deep down you know all of this. I'm even surer that you have people telling you that this reunion tour is "for the fans." Please don't worry about my feelings; I'm cool with what you've already given me.

All I ask is that you put yourself in my shoes. You all liked The Beatles growing up, right? Think about The Beatles getting back together in 1977 for a million bucks, playing all the old hits and then recording an album that makes ELO sound like, well, The Beatles. Your Disco Pop rerecording of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" in 1986 — the last thing you recorded together, if I'm not mistaken — should be all you need to hear to know that this reunion business is a bad idea.

So, Sting, keep making those Adult Contemporary albums; heck, make another lute album if that floats your boat. Stewart, that Oysterhead project with Les Claypool was pretty cool, but why not resurrect your Klark Kent alter-ego. And Andy, take some more photos, make another Jazz album, or, hell, give Fripp a call.

You guys don't need money (as far as I know — call me and I'll loan you some if you're that desperate) and have had charmed lives, leaving behind a body of work that will live on forever. Please — just let it go!

Your pal,

Mike Breen

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