Saturday, March 10, 2012
GHOST IN THE MACHINE
This was the fourth album by the law enforcers, spawning three singles. It also marked the beginning of the end of their established sound.
Copeland's drumwork is solid as usual. Andy changes his guitar tone to embark on some interesting tangents and Sting picks up the sax. Keyboards now figured more prominently in a denser mix.
Critical raves have accompanied the very mention of this record, though I disagree. Only five solid songs appear here.
"Spirits in the Material World" has a bassline that defies gravity and time itself. Randy Jackson, a fine bassist in his own right, raves about Sting's idiosyncratic figures to author Daniel Levitin in "This is Your Brain on Music". Rightly so! Mr. Sumner outdoes himself with both the tune and his top class, instrumental performance.
"Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" is so good that it could not be improved upon. It is work that any writer would be proud to have as a part of their "Artistic Portfolio".
Nothing much happens for a while.
Just as REM sleep is about to kick in, Andy's excellent "Omegaman" grabs you with a killer riff(would have been a single too, but Sting vetoed it). Sting's "Secret Journey" with it's secret journey and Stewart's brooding "Darkness" (with madly panned high hat work) bring things to a close.
These gems rank with the best of anything they recorded during their short tenure as a trio.
In MY book (which has lots of pictures), naive political statements and flat out repetitive tunes drag down the rest of the album. Could you honestly spend an hour in a locked room listening only to "Demolition Man"?
As a kid I received an LED (light emitting diode) watch as a Christmas gift. Futuristic 70's technology!
When the watch battery was dying and the magic button was pressed to display the time, Andy, Sting and Stewart appeared instead. They said that they'd grant me three wishes if I released them....from the absolute hell of being forced to play "Hungry For You"
OK, that was a wee bit harsh, though so are the scattershot, hamfisted lyrics that grace "Rehumanize Yourself". Sure Sting, I'll take that under advisement.
About that album title...
British philosopher Gilbert Ryle used ghost in the machine as a derogatory description for René Descartes' mind-body dualism. Descartes himself had been a ghost for about 300 years at this point (1949), so I really don't think that he gave a shit.
The smart money for Sting's reference is Arthur Koestler's 1967 book, which uses Ryle's phrase as its title. The main focus is mankind's movement towards self-destruction.
Ghost in the Machine? I have never seen a ghost, but I'm sure that they would have better things to do than fuck around all day in some machine.
Unless their immortal souls were trapped in it after said machine ripped them in half.
Which is just what the prospective listener should do with this disc, splicing the first two selections with the last three and taking the filler on a long drive out to the middle of nowhere for disposal. These tracks simply lack the spark that the others have in abundance.