THE POLICE Zenyatta Mondatta (A&M)

A middling, mid-period Police album, Zenyatta Mondattas high filler-to-hits ratio betrays the haste with which it was assembled, with two tracks appearing as instrumentals and a third that might as well be one.

You do get the glorious, if icky, Dont Stand So Close To Me, though, Sting bringing a new literacy to number one by namedropping Nabakov. Its certainly a far livelier proposition than the dreary 86 remix that appeared on Every Breath You Take: The Singles. Driven To Tears marks the first stirrings in song of Stings political consciousness, making it both a counterweight to the albums many flippant, lightweight moments and far more important than might have been apparent at the time. Similarly, Bombs Aways references to Afghanistan hills bestow upon it a contemporary currency. Sting bandies some clever verbiage about in the verses of De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, only to regress to nonsensical baby talk for the choruses; like too much of the album, this self-undermining song hovers perilously close to pointlessness.

Canary In A Coalmine sounds like it should be soundtracking a chase sequence on The Benny Hill Show. The fact that the kindergarten King Crimson of Behind My Camel won a Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy suggests it probably wasnt a landmark year for songs without words. Shadows In The Rain is notable only for the sprightlier version Sting performed on debut solo album; here its a wannabe-Bogus Man dub wasteland. The Other Way Of Stopping (being an instrumental, you dont learn anything significant about either method here) could be post-punk jazz rock; Pere Ubu meets Weather Report, all edges cancelled out.

This Japanese 200 gram vinyl pressing, made from a DSD rather than analogue source, is a very tight-sounding record, almost unnaturally so; notes and beats start and stop very quickly, the surfaces are quiet and theres some useful thump and heft to it. Its wrapped in a passable reproduction of the original sleeve, but adds a bilingual lyric sheet that enables the correction of some misconceptions Ive been harbouring for over a quarter of a century.