Various Artists – Many Miles Away

Various Artists
Many Miles Away

The problem with tribute-style compilations is that a bunch of bands get together and do their best impressions of the band they’re covering. Well, who wants to hear a modern band do an exact replica of some classic band? Anyone can do that. Here, instead, you get 11 bands doing honest covers of classic Police songs in their own unique styles. Unique to say the least. Finally, a tribute compilation that’s true to the artists that cover the band, not the band itself.

Ever wonder if the Police were actually an emo band? Check out Decembers January’s impressive version of “Message in a Bottle.” If not for that catchy, pop guitar line throughout, this song had a dark and powerful feel, made more so by this band, complete with all-out screams. The Ed Kemper Trio kicks in a punchy, punky version of “Next to You” that sounds a bit odd seeing as how the original was more of a pop tune, and I’m left thinking of the cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. There’s some nice theremin used here, though, something that would have Sting turning in his grave (were he dead). Blinder pull off a quiet and more melancholy version of “Does Everyone Stare” that, with its female vocals, reminds me more of a Breeders song than the Police.

By contrast, the classic “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” is covered here by Andrew Wagner in complete folk style. All you get is acoustic guitar and quiet vocals, and it’s surprising how well it works. Maybe the closest song to the original, [DARYL] do a just slightly more rocking version of “Truth Hits Everyday,” which is contrasted by probably the furthest song from the original. The slightly eerie yet always enjoyable The Paper Chase cover “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” and the result is classic. Odd, off-kilter vocals, strange sounds, herky-jerky beats and rhythms, and a kind of chilling urgency make this song by this impressive band probably the best on this release.

I also enjoy Jack Neat’s cover of “Murder By Numbers.” Done with a light-hearted, even jazzy beat and with these pretty female vocals, it loses the Police’s dark tone but has a fun, playful feel. Sound of Reverse’s “Omegaman” is rather standard sped-up rock fare with vocals that sound a bit like Sting, and In Between Blue do a quiet, sparse, and slightly electronic version of “Invisible Sun.” The unique PopCanon do an over-the-top “Syncronicity II,” with a lot of emphasis on the vocals, and Lesliwood closes with “King of Pain,” done in a very quiet mode but with great vocals and echoed backing vocals. I like this version quite a bit as well, especially the drawn-out, improvised ending to bring it to the 7-minute mark.

This is a lot of fun, not just because these are Police songs, but because the bands are very unique and original, and they obviously had fun covering these songs. Sure, I don’t doubt the Police write great songs. But I’d say this album is not for Police fans by any means. Rather, modern and indie rock fans will enjoy this offering so much more.