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The Police 'Can't stand Losing you'
A musical style comes together
The Police were using an upstairs room in Jeddo road,sheperds Bush,London to rehearse.Sting turned up one day,& borrowing Andy Summers' guitar proceeded to play 'Can't stand losing you'.Both Andy & drummer stewart Copeland were very impressed with the song,& the group got down to serious work on it. Sting had previously borrowed some Bob Marley records from stewart for a party, & the reggae influence with it's groove & bass lines was busy working it's way into the police sound. Also crucial to this was Andy's use of an echoplex tape effect,which speeds up or slows down the number of repeated echoes,giving him a double rhythm effect,which creates what he describes as a 'curtain of sound' that played a big part in the group's developement. Sting said that the song is about teenage suicide & took him about 5 minutes to write. It has a similar style to 'Roxanne' with a sparse bass line & skeletal arrangement.It has been suggested that the line 'I guess you'd call it suicide,but I'm too full to swallow my pride' hints that perhaps the would be suicide wasn't followed through. The song was set to be The Police's 2nd single & A & M records took the tape away to remix it,but after trying 5 different mixes of the song over a period of three weeks they couldn't improve on what The Police had already done! It would be interesting to know if all those mixes still exist in the A & M vaults. Nonetheless it proved a turning point for The Police as A & M left them to get on with things after that!
The Police gathered momentum when they appeared on BBC's famous 'Old Grey Whistle Test' on October 2nd,1978. By this time,series 8,Annie Nightingale had taken over from Bob Harris as the show's presenter,though it was Jill Sinclair,part of the production team, that got the group on the show. Annie introduced them as an exciting new group & they played 'Can't stand Losing you' & 'Next To you'.The show nearly turned into a disaster as Sting had a can of hair spray explode in his face! Fortunately there was an eye hospital nearby where they were able to wash Sting's eye out. If you watch the performance Sting is sometimes twitching in an effort to keep up the large dark sunglasses! Both of these songs appear on the Police DVD 'Every Breath you Take'. This DVD also features the original video for the song,which shows the group on stage,Sting again in very large glasses,& a bowtie,Andy playing a Hamer guitar. This is intercut with live footage. An alternate version has The Police playing against the same red backdrop used in 'Roxanne'. Originally released in the uk on August 14th 1978 & reaching no.42. It was banned by the BBC because of it's threatened theme of suicide. The single's picture sleeve probably didn't help either. Taken on July 20th,1978 by Peter Gravelle,it shows a man standing on a block of ice (actually Stewart Copeland!)with a rope round his neck in front of an electric fire. On the back sleeve is just the melting ice block in front of the fire.When the song was re-released on June 1st, 1979,it reached no.2 ,spending 16 weeks in the chart. (A & M AMS 7381,.the B side was 'Dead End Job'. It was kept off the no1 spot by The Boomtown Rats' 'I don't Like Mondays ). It was issued in red,yellow,green,white,light blue,dark blue & also black vinyl. Enough to bankrupt even the most avid collector! The song had already been included on the group's debut album 'Outlandos D'amour' which was released on November 17th,1978 (A & M AMLH 68502)
Can't Stand Losing you was often played twice in the early Police sets to fill out their performance,but with Andy using the echoplex & other effects,& the group jamming on the songs, their repertoire at the time of about 7 original songs could be stretched,& they went down really well when they played CBGB's in New York on November 14th,15th,1978. By the way, CBGB's means 'country,Bluegrass & Blues. The group's lack of material actually worked in their favor as they extend & push the songs in different directions in front of enthusiastic audiences. The live workout on Can't stand Losing you eventually becomes a separate song, the instrumental & title track of The Police's second album 'Regatta de Blanc",winning a Grammy award for best rock instrumental performance in 1981.
The Police concluded a two & half month tour of 19 countries & 37 cities with two shows in Sting's home town of Newcastle at the city Hall on April 28th,1980. All the proceeds went to the Northumberland Association of Boy's clubs. The second show was broadcast on BBC Radio. It concluded with an epic 8 minutes 20 second version of 'Can't stand Losing you/Regatta de Blanc'. Sting as ever got the audience involved. Calling them 'Newcastle 2' he said that The Police were conducting a survey into the decibel rate! He proceeded to sing the phrase 'Day o' from king of calypso Harry Belafonte's 1957 hit 'Banana Boat song', encouraging audience participation!
Andy summers descbribes The Police's version of 'Can't stand Losing you' at the Rang Bhavan auditorium,Bombay,as possibly their best ever performance of it. They did two nights there on March 25th,26th,1980 & were the first rock band to play live in Bombay. The concerts were done in aid of the time & talents club & Andy remarked that it was mayhem,& more like an uprising as an ecstatic crowd went wild with delight! Part of this performance can be seen in the documentary 'Police in the East', which the BBC originally screened on October 10th,1980.This was a tour of Japan,Hong Kong,India, Egypt & Greece. Running 50 minutes, Can't stand losing you is just over half hour into the documentary. It was screened more recently by BBC 4 on monday July 6th,2011 at 00.40 am. Parts of this film were also used in the 'Police Around The World' DVD.
On November 2nd & 3rd,1983, The Police played at the Omni in Atlanta,Georgia. A superb DVD was released & captures the group in particularly fine form on their 'Synchronicity Tour',giving a very energetic performance. 'Can't Stand Losing you/Regatta de Blanc' brings the main part of the concert to a close before they come back on for a well deserved encore.During the 'Regatta de Blanc' section sting gets the enthusiastic audience joining in on what has become an integral part of a Police show.
There have been several collectable releases of this song.In 1979 'Roxanne/Can't stand Losing you' was released in the shape of a Police badge (A & m AM2147).The same year also saw a mispressed 'B' side that plays 'No Time This Time' instead of 'Dead End Job'. It fetches at least $20. The group's first five singles plus 'The Bed's Too Big without you' were released as The Police six pack in May 1980 (A & M AMPP6001),with a run of 50,000 copies. A live version of the song from Boston reached no 27,charting on may 13th,1995 , staying just two weeks in the chart. Backed with 'Roxanne' an uncut white vinyl test pressing of one copy was made (A & M 581 036 7 A/B) & you'd need to pay a minimum of $1,500 to make it yours!
'Can't Stand Losing' you also appears with 'Roxanne' & 'Synchronicity 11' as part of The Police's contribution to the video game series 'Rock Band'. The song has become not only an essential part of any Police live show, but also a modern classic. It formed part of their 2007 reunion tour set list & included here is a rehearsal from the whisky a Go Go club in Hollywood from February 12th,when they announced their upcoming reunion tour. Let's hope we've not seen the last of our favorite police force!
PS In keeping with the modern trend for 'mash ups' there's an interesting & excellent Police/Dire straits mix called 'I can't stand sultans of swing'. ( with thanks to my good friend @Mr_Mondo for this little gem!)
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Since 1986, when the Police left the stage as the biggest rock band in the world, Andy Summers has followed his own muse, releasing recordings, touring and is the author of the recently released book One Train Later.
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