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Friday, June 17, 1983

The Police's Synchronicity Released: June 17, 1983

Originally posted on 6/17/2011. Updated 3/9/2013.


Released: 17 June 1983
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. Synchronicity I 2. Walking in Your Footsteps 3. O My God 4. Mother 5. Miss Gradenko 6. Synchronicity II (7/16/83, #16 US, #17 UK, #9 AR) 7. Every Breath You Take (5/28/83, #1 US, #1 UK, #5 AC, #1 AR, sales: 1.0 m, air: 8.0 m) 8. King of Pain (7/9/83, #3 US, #17 UK, #1 AR, #33 AC) 9. Wrapped Around Your Finger (7/9/83, #8 US, #7 UK, #9 AR, #13 AC, air: 1.0 m) 10. Tea in the Sahara 11. Murder by Numbers

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 0.3 UK, 16.5 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 117 US, 12 UK

Rating:


Review: June 17, 1983: The Police released Synchronicity. In The Review’s 2001 feature on “The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time”, Clarke Speicher called it “the most compelling work of [their] career and one of the signature albums of the ‘80s.” Amazon.com’s Al Massa calls it “a benchmark album from a tremendously influential band [that] will stand the test of time as a genuine classic.”

The album was loosely built around Carl Jung’s synchronicity concept which suggested an interconnectedness amongst seemingly non-related occurrences. The only songs to expressly reference this idea are “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II.” The latter was a top 20 single in the U.S. and U.K. and lyrically told an odd story of suburban life in juxtaposition with the Loch Ness monster creeping from its lake.

However, the songs were loosely tied by their thematic lyrics. As Rolling Stone’s Stephen Holden said, “paranoia, cynicism and excruciating loneliness run rampant” throughout. Ironically, such an agenda didn’t slow the album’s success. The first single, “Every Breath You Take”, was a dark tale of a stalker which has often been misinterpreted as a love song. It was #1 for 8 weeks in the U.S. and rates in the top 10 in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.

Every Breath You Take

The album’s staying power, however, was due to its depth. “King of Pain”, a less than joyous look at despair and abandonment, climbed to #3 on the U.S. charts. “Wrapped Around Your Finger”, a study of the suffocating aspects of marriage, was also a top 10 hit in the U.S. and U.K.

Wrapped Around Your Finger

Other standouts include “Murder by Numbers”, an ironically bouncy number about a contract killer, and “Tea in the Sahara”, which Holden calls the album’s “moodiest, most tantalizing song.” The song relays a story inspired by Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky novel. Three siblings wait in the desert for a mysterious stranger with whom they’ve made a deal, but he never returns. Holden says the song could be interpreted as “England dreaming of its lost empire, mankind longing for God, and Sting himself pining for an oasis of romantic peace.”

Of course, the album was far from peaceful and the band was not at peace either. The tension of their working relationship in the studio and a lengthy world tour drove wedges between them. Sting would venture out for a solo career and an attempt to reunite in 1986 was short-lived.


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