Music: Official Police Business

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A small and fractious supergroup storms through the summer

Like nuclear scientists, baseball managers and political pollsters, the folks in the music business love numbers. It's the one sure way to chart success. In short order, then, a few stats about the Police. Sold out Shea Stadium in New York City in five hours on first leg of current U.S. concert tour. That's 67,000 seats. Eased Michael Jackson off the top of the album chart, where he seemed to have established a penthouse. Scored a No. 1 single, Every Breath You Take, which is hanging on tight. With 3.5 million copies of their album Synchronicity already sold worldwide, and with big plans for a tour of Japan and Australia in 1984, may have clear current title to the ultimate accolade: hottest group in the world. Western world. Rock-'n'-roll division.

But perhaps a slightly different standard should be suggested. Every Breath You Take, the sinuous, sinister and entirely irresistible Police single, is the sound track of the late summer, the song of the season, just as Flashdance . . . What a Feeling and David Bowie's Let's Dance were early summer's anthems. There is no getting away from Every Breath You Take, with its whipcrack rhythms and cool, insinuating lyrics, and there is no wanting to, either. The song, and the album it comes from, are like a strange balm, at first soothing to hear, then more disturbing and more memorable. This is rock music that is not only canny commerciality, but has high and serious ambition intellectually. It isn't often, after a11, that Carl Jung hits the top of the charts.

Police's lead singer and premier song writer, who is called Sting, explains: "Jung believed there was a large pattern to life, that it wasn't just chaos. Our song Synchronicity II is about two parallel events that aren't connected logically or causally, but symbolically." That's a tall order for a five-minute four-second tune, but Sting is a fleet writer and his song can carry the weight. Drummer Stewart Copeland has a slightly different, more bemused explanation. He maintains that "Sting is in his Germanic-scientists-of-unpronounceable-names phase. I know he has an interest in this stuff. I only make fun of it because it serves him right for taking it all so seriously."

There is one point, anyway, on which all three members of the group agree. Guitarist Andy Summers: "Sting is the most consummate writer of pop songs in the group, so we wind up doing more of his songs than anybody else's." Copeland: "The only thing I envy is Sting's voice and his songwriting ability." The gentleman in question: 'I'm the best songwriter. It's as simple as that."

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