Rock Reads: Sting and the Police: Walking in Their Footsteps by Aaron J. West

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

It is important to note that this book is not a biography; this is not the book for you if you're interested in how Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland grew up. It is the perfect book for you though if you want to know how their music grew up, as author West thoroughly delves into how the band's songs were constructed from style mosaics. Listeners probably never had much of a problem with it, but in the early part of the book West tackles the question that has given music journalist fits for ages; just what kind of music did the Police play, anyway? Were they a progressive rock band, a reggae band or a punk band? This is where the style mosaics come in, as West explains (and cites specific songs as examples) how the three very accomplished musicians used elements of all three genres (and more), often within the construct of one song. Fans may be surprised to learn that the band's big hit Roxanne was originally written as a bossa nova and West explains how the famous sing-along retains a Latin birthright through the use of a hybrid tango rhythm. The Latin influences came primarily from Sting and later in the book West delves into how Sting often incorporated Latin sounds into his solo music, notably on songs like Fragile. Along the way fans will find out the lyrical inspiration for many songs, how the Copeland family played such an important role in launching the career of the Police, and how it all grew in importance beyond music, eventually giving Sting a platform and the gravitas to speak up, on and off stage, about important social and environmental causes. The book wraps up with a comparison of the Police to other famous rock trios, from Cream and Rush to Green Day and Nirvana, and brief updates of what Sting, Summers and Copeland have been up to more recently.

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