Rock: Police, English trio...
In America, the English rock trio known as the Police is generally categorized as "new wave", and although the term is concededly vague, in this case it is at least reasonably appropriate. Reggae rhythms, guitar playing that is orchestral rather than solooriented, loosely improvisational group interplay and non-Western influences define the Police's music and distinguish it from the older brands of rock that still command the loyalties of most American rock fans.
But the Police filled Madison Square Garden last Saturday night, and they didn't have to change their music to do it. They certainly know how to get the maximum effectiveness of catchy pop melodies, and they have cleverly parlayed their somewhat limited range of expression into a distinctive group personality; now that they have sold out the Garden and placed an album in the American top 10, some "new wave" partisans will probably insist that the Police were a commercial pop band all along. But that would be self-defeating.
The significance of the Police show at the Garden is that when ''new wave'' is essentially populist rather than elitist in its outlook, it can be as commercially viable as any other brand of rock. Sector 27, the English quartet led by Tom Robinson, combines soaring pop melodies with an instrumental approach that recalls the Police in its use of guitar and electronic modifiers. But the Police's guitarist, Andy Summers, has learned how to fill out the group's sound by deftly playing lead and rhythm parts at the same time, and he is aided by Stewart Copeland's inventively dense drumming and by the richness of Sting's bass sound. Sector 27 is effective in a club, but at the Garden, the band needed more fire power, or better amplification.
© The New York Times by Robert Palmer
Radio Sticker image from Dietmar