The erstwhile trio never released a live record during their heyday, partly because their melodic maestro, Sting, was so prolific that there was always plenty of new material at hand. Now, 11 years after Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers officially disbanded, they're at last offering up a double-CD package of two separate concerts that could serve as bookends to the band's wildly successful career.
The first, a torrid set from a November 1979 show at Boston's Orpheum Theatre, captures a hungry rock band on its ascent. From the punk maelstrom of "Next to You" to the Rasta-tinged power pop of "Can't Stand Losing You" that typified their early sound, this concert will have old-time Police fans dancing around the room to Summers' slashing, idiosyncratic playing, Copeland's driving beat and Sting's pure pop vocals.
The second concert, recorded in November 1983 at the Omni in Atlanta, is more predictable, revealing a supergroup that has settled into fame and commercial acceptability. All the Police's biggest FM radio hits, including "King of Pain," "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "Every Breath You Take," are dutifully presented. Nonetheless, the band's delivery lacks the urgency and controlled chaos of its earlier years. While there's no denying that the first disc is definitely the meatier offering, for real Police fans the whole package is still worth the price of admission. (A & M)