OCTOBER 2, 1979 – The Police’s released their second album “Regatta de Blanc.” The French title loosely translates to “White Reggae.” Released by A&M Records, t was the band’s first album to reach #1 on the UK Album Charts and features their first two UK #1 hits: “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon.” In early 1980, the album was re-issued in the US on two 10″ discs, one album side per disc, as well as a collector’s edition with a poster of the band.
The music features the Police’s distinctive appropriation of reggae and frontman Sting’s Caribbean vocal inflections. It was their second album to bear a Franglais title after the band’s 1978 debut album “Outlandos d’Amour.” “Reggatta de Blanc” proved both more popular and successful than its predecessor. The title track earned the band their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1980.
It took four weeks to record, spaced over several months. Unlike its successor, “Zenyatta Mondatta,” there was no pressure on the band. Of the sessions, drummer Stewart Copeland said, “We just went into the studio and said, ‘Right, who’s got the first song?’ We hadn’t even rehearsed them before we went in.” In a piece for Modern Drummer magazine, Copeland chose “Reggatta de Blanc” as the best Police album.
Against the wishes of A&M, who had wanted to equip the promising band with a bigger studio and more famous producer, the Police opted to again record at Surrey Sound with Nigel Gray. The small budget (between £6,000 and £9,000) was easily covered by the profits of their previous album, “Outlandos d’Amour,” further ensuring that the record label would have no control over the actual creation of the band’s music. Whereas “Outlandos d’Amour” had benefited from one of the most prolific songwriting periods of Sting’s life, the recording sessions for “Reggatta de Blanc” were so short on new material that the band even considered re-recording “Fall Out” at one point. To fill in the gaps, Sting and Copeland dug up old songs they’d written and used elements of them to create new songs. Much of the lyrics to “Bring on the Night” were recycled from Sting’s “Last Exit” song “Carrion Prince (O Ye of Little Hope)” and “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” similarly started as a “Last Exit” tune, while “Does Everyone Stare” originates from a piano piece Copeland wrote in college. The closing track “No Time This Time” was previously the B-Side to “So Lonely” in November 1978, and was added to pad out the album’s running time.
As on the band’s first album, “Reggatta de Blanc” features the Police’s original fusion of hard rock, British pop, Jamaican reggae, and new wave music. The instrumental “Reggatta de Blanc,” one of the few songs written by the Police as a group, came from the long instrumental break in the live performance of “Can’t Stand Losing You” and earned the band the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. “Bring on the Night” was written three years earlier as “Carrion Prince”, the title taken from Ted Hughes’s poem “King of Carrion,” and is about Pontius Pilate; however, after reading “The Executioner’s Song,” Sting felt that the words fitted Gary Gilmore’s death wish, and says that since then, “I sing it with him in mind.””The Bed’s Too Big Without You” was covered by reggae singer Sheila Hylton in 1981, and became a UK Top 40 hit.
“Reggatta de Blanc” continued to build on the band’s previous success, hitting #1 on the UK and Australian album charts upon its release.”Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon” were released as singles and both reached #1 in the UK. According to rock journalist Tim Peacock, with its success, the album transformed the Police “into one of the post-punk era’s defining bands.”
The album was met with positive reviews from magazines such as Smash Hits, People, and Rolling Stone. Writing for the latter in December 1979, Debra Rae Cohen said that objections to the band’s stylistic appropriations of New Wave and reggae are “rendered moot by the sheer energy of the band’s rhythmic counter-punching.” In The Village Voice’s year-end Pazz & Jop poll of American critics nationwide, Regatta de Blanc was voted the 35th best album of 1979. Robert Christgau, the poll’s creator and the Voice’s chief critic, was lukewarm about the album in “Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies” (1981): “The idea is to fuse Sting’s ringing rock voice and the trio’s aggressive, hard-edged rock attack with a less eccentric version of reggae’s groove and a saner version of reggae’s mix. To me the result sounds half-assed. And though I suppose I might find the ‘synthesis’ innovative if I heard as much reggae as they do in England, it’s more likely I’d find it infuriating.” In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Greg Prato said that the band’s intense touring schedule leading up to the album had made their unique reggae rock fusion sharper, leading to a work that was “much more polished production-wise and fully developed from a songwriting standpoint,” but also “more sedate” than their first album.
“Regatta de Blanc” has appeared frequently on professional listings of the greatest albums. In 2006, it was included in the book “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.” In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it at #372 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. In 2014, Spin named it the 10th most major moment in the history of white reggae. Based on such rankings, the aggregate website Acclaimed Music lists Reggatta de Blanc as the 109th most acclaimed album from the 1970s and the 365th most acclaimed album in history.
1) Message in a Bottle
2) Reggatta de Blanc
3) It’s Alright for You
4) Bring on the Night
6) Walking on the Moon
7) On Any Other Day
😎 The Bed’s Too Big Without You
10) Does Everyone Stare
11) No Time This Time