It’s probably just as well that I never saw the original 1980s VHS video tape released version of the live quasi-documentary / concert video about Britain’s reggae-punk-pop sensations, The Police. Hold on to that thought for a moment…
Watching the new restored version of The Police Around The World has been very enjoyable in all its media-buzzed, manic pop thrilled, superstars-ascendant glory. The visuals are excellent as 1979-80 concert footage goes, especially for a then still-up-and-coming band. The Police were really big by 1980 but not as massive as they were about to get in the next couple of years by the time this video tape was originally released. Apparently the film was shot in 16mm and transferred to HD video for the restoration process.
Actually, The Police Around The World is quite stunning at times, showing the band just at that point between selling out larger theaters but before they became a stadium-filling act. The shows in Japan and Hong Kong are especially powerful but all the footage throughout shows just what a great band they were at that moment and how the fans were responding in kind. The music here is solid basic rock ‘n’ roll Stereo and it’s sounding very good indeed on the Blu-ray Disc at 48 kHz and 24 bits.
The accompanying CD is also very enjoyable because it gives you the full songs from many of the performances on the video and then some. The performances are of course outstanding and still pretty exciting. This is prime Police from that initial adrenaline-rush era of hits including “Message In A Bottle,” “Bring On The Night,” “Can’t Stand Losing You,” “So Lonely” and of course “Roxanne.”
My only nit with The Police Around The World package is that I wish the producers had also given us all the same album of songs on the Blu-ray as is found on the CD. Adding them in high resolution Stereo audio probably would not have taken up much additional space on the disc. Even with the bonus video clips that are included — full performances of four songs from Japan which are excellent! – they could’ve fleshed out the Blu-ray significantly.
Of course, there is that factor of bang for the buck and with it selling on Amazon for just over $20, The Police Around The World is a very fairly priced package all things considered.
Still, there are some what-ifs to consider. I was talking with a friend who is a much bigger Police fanatic than I, and learned that there hasn’t been much new archival material for the hardcore fans in some time. So I can appreciate the desire for more extras in the package.
Going back to my opening paragraph, the reason I mentioned that it was a good that I’d never seen the original VHS version of The Police Around The World is that apparently there have been quite a number of edits and even some changes to the program in making this new Blu-ray and DVD edition. Personally, I have no problem with this and certainly respect the decisions of the band to present their music as they see fit. Looking at some of the edits fans are missing on the new edition, many seem to be surrounding special effects and transitions and such.
If you are interested, click here to explore a fan wiki page with a very detailed contrasting of the differences. I don’t know why certain decisions were made but it is entirely possible that in trying to create an updated 21st century version — which involves going back to original source footage and high definition film scanning, transfer and restoration processes — that some of those old early video effects were not reproducible in high resolution.
Having done a fair amount of video editing (supervision) work in the late ’80s and early ’90s I know that some effects put to master U-Matic or Betacam tape stock were done on-the-fly in real time. So there isn’t necessarily just some button one can push to recreate that exact look and feel. Some elements may also be missing from the archives at this point. And, certain elements used from different interview sources may be unavailable for technical and licensing reasons for use on modern formats including streaming and Blu-ray. Assembling a collection like this can be a bit of a production Pandora’s Box!
So… it is understandable to me that a new incarnation of The Police Around The World might be created. Perhaps a bit more clarity in marketing future products/changes might help to set realistic expectations with the fans.
Personally, I’m thrilled that they have the original film elements of the concert footage in their archives. That is the most important thing!
Anyhow, I am hoping that this release is just the beginning of a new era of archival releases for The Police. I do hope that the band will take a cue from artists like Bruce Springsteen, The Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and XTC who have done a great job of giving the fans everything they might want and more as far as archival releases go. Bob Dylan has also in many ways set a standard for how this kind of a series can be executed successfully for fan and artist alike. Oh…. and The Beatles haven’t done too shabby a job with mining their archives.
All in all, if you are a fan you will want to own The Police Around The World. The footage is great, the performances and the energy fantastic. And it sounds pretty fabulous all things considered as 40-year-old punk-pop-reggae live recordings go. This has primed and rekindled my interest in their music with fresh ears and eyes. I for one am eager to see and hear more Police releases from the archives in the future.