And ask her if she'll marry me in some old fashioned way
But my silent fears have gripped me
Long before I reach the phone
Long before my tongue has tripped me
Must I always be alone?
Ghost in the Machine, released in 1981, is the fourth studio album by English-American Post-Punk/New Wave Music group The Police. Following the rushed production of and Creator Backlash towards Zenyattà Mondatta, the band decided to approach their next record much more loosely, recording at recording at AIR Studios in Montserrat and Le Studio (later renamed Studio Morin Heights) in Quebec specifically because of their distance from A&M Records' headquarters in California (thus locking executives out of the sessions in a pre-internet age) and expanding recording sessions to six weeks. Additionally, the band ended their working relationship with longtime producer Nigel Gray in favor of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins collaborator Hugh Padgham, who had the band record their parts in separate rooms of the studio to reduce infighting among the members; Padgham would later repeat this technique for the band's next (and final) album.
Sound-wise, the album continues its predecessor's shift away from the band's signature reggae fusion in favor of taking influence from the rising Synth-Pop movement: synthesizers become an even more dominant element of the band's sound here than on Zenyattà Mondatta, with a combination of both keyboard and guitar synths being used on a considerable number of tracks. Additionally, Sting would incorporate horn parts onto the album, hinting at the jazz fusion direction of both Synchronicity and his own solo material. Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland weren't as enthusiastic about the change in sound as Sting was though, with Summers stating in an interview that "the fantastic raw-trio feel— all the really creative and dynamic stuff— was being lost. We were ending up backing a singer doing his pop songs." Indeed, this perception of Sting as being in full I Am the Band mode would inform the more turbulent production of Synchronicity, the band's hiatus after that album, and their eventual breakup in 1986 following further Creative Differences over the re-recording of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" for Every Breath You Take: The Singles.
Though the stylistic shift was a mixed blessing at best for the band, the resulting album was another commercial success for the band, topping the charts in the UK, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands, and peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The album would go on to be the fifth-best-selling of the year in both the UK and the Netherlands, as well as the tenth-best-selling of 1982 in the US, where it would be certified triple-platinum. It would also go platinum in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand, as well as gold in France and Germany.
Ghost in the Machine was supported by four singles: "Invisible Sun", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Spirits in the Material World", and "Secret Journey".
- "Spirits in the Material World" (2:59)
- "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (4:22)
- "Invisible Sun" (3:44)
- "Hungry for You (J'aurais toujours faim de toi)" (2:52)
- "Demolition Man"note (5:57)
- "Too Much Information" (3:43)
- "Rehumanize Yourself" (3:10)
- "One World (Not Three)" (4:47)
- "Ωmegaman" (2:48)
- "Secret Journey" (3:34)
- "Darkness" (3:14)
We're all tropes in a material world:
- Cannot Spit It Out: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is about a guy who can't muster up the courage to tell his crush that he loves her, constantly embarrassing himself in the process.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: While the original Grace Jones rendition of "Demolition Man" is cold and robotic, the Police's version on this album is, as Andy Summers put it, "more ballsy" and boisterous, with a loud, Hard Rock-influenced sound in direct contrast to Jones' version. As a result, the narrator comes off as someone who constantly brags about being Rated M for Manly instead of someone for whom danger is so everyday that it's become mundane.
- Cover Version: For a given definition of "cover" (considering that Sting wrote it), "Demolition Man" was originally given to and performed by Grace Jones.
- Downer Ending: The album closes with the bleak, brooding "Darkness".
- Driven to Suicide: The narrator of "Ωmegaman" notes at the end of the first verse that he repeatedly contemplates killing himself as a result of the stress of possibly being the last man alive in a post-apocalyptic Earth.
- Drone of Dread: "Invisible Sun" is backed with a pulsating synth drone, highlighting the unnerving tone of the lyrics and the minor-key melody.
- Dying Alone: Being the Last of His Kind, the narrator of "Ωmegaman" is fully aware that this will be his ultimate fate.
- Gratuitous French: Barring an English-language bridge and outro, "Hungry for You (J'aurais toujours faim de toi)" is sung entirely in (broken) French.
- I Am the Band: This marked the point where Sting really started taking control of the band, with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers both openly stating that they felt more like session musicians than real members (despite Copeland being the one who founded the band).
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art: "Invisible Sun" repeats the style and layout of the main album cover, but with a yellow sun in the digital display instead of the red band members.
- Last of His Kind: True to the book and film it's based on, "Ωmegaman" is narrated by the last human survivor of an unspecified apocalypse.
- Long Title: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
- Lucky Charms Title: "Ωmegaman", which replaces the uppercase O with an uppercase omega (Ω); since both letters make the same sound in this context, it avoids being a case of The Backwards Я.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Simply the band name and album title in plain text, plus a flat-color rendering of the band members as a fake digital display, overlaid atop a solid black background. "Invisible Sun" likewise features a variant of the cover with the digital display forming a sun shape.
- New Sound Album: The band add in even more synthesizers than before and incorporate horn parts, moving further away from their early reggae fusion style and closer to their later jazz fusion direction. Sting claimed that this was born out of a band-wide desire to move as far away from their initial sound as they reasonably could and "go off the beaten path."
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "Ωmegaman" is much more punk-oriented than the rest of the band's material on their studio albums.
- Packaged as Other Medium: The album artist took the title fairly literally: the front and back cover and LP labels are designed to look like digital displays (with a cursor being used to distinguish "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" as both the sole Le Studio recording and the track with a guest keyboardist), while the liner notes consist of PCB photos with the band members' faces overlaid atop.
- Precision F-Strike: "Rehumanize Yourself" refers to the National Front (a British neo-Nazi group) as "cunts," marking one of the very few instances of heavy profanity on a Police song and highlighting the angry tone of the lyrics.
- Protest Song: "Rehumanize Yourself" is an open jab at the dysfunction and malaise plaguing modern western society, particularly criticizing Police Brutality, the capitalist caste system, and the rise of neo-Nazism in the UK.
- Rated M for Manly: "Demolition Man" describes the narrator as performing a wide variety of over-the-top and incredibly dangerous stunts because it makes him look cool.
- Special Guest: Composer and prolific session player Jean Alain Roussel provides keyboard parts and arrangements for "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", a position given in exchange for allowing the Police to record the song at Le Studio.
- Title-Only Chorus: Both "Spirits in the Material World" and "Rehumanize Yourself".
- Umbrella of Togetherness: Parodied in "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", where the narrator's attempts at doing this with his crush always end up backfiring.
- Visual Pun: The album art revolves around the idea of the Police being trapped inside a computer, essentially being literal ghosts in the machine.