Originally available on VHS and Laserdisc, The Police: Around The World (Restored & Expanded) is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. The DVD is accompanied by a never-before-released soundtrack on CD or LP while only available on CD for the Blu-ray.
The movie follows drummer Stewart Copeland, lead singer/bassist Sting and guitarist Andy Summers on their first world tour in 1980, showing clips of them on stage and off while in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Egypt, Greece, South America, France, and the USA. For those looking for a concert film, this isn’t it. This is a travelogue of the band, so if you want to see the trio riding horseback together, you came to the right place. The band shows their silly side as Andy (unsuccessfully) takes on a Sumo wrestler Yuji-san intercut with a performance of “Walking on the Moon” and while rehearsing “Voices Inside My Head” during sound check, Sting can be seen riding a rickshaw with the film sped up. Trouble setting up a show in Egypt feels almost Spinal Tap-esque.
The official “So Lonely” music video is compiled from them roaming the streets of Hong Kong and subway trains in Tokyo. Onlookers understandably looked puzzled. In South America (more specifically, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil thanks to Andy’s liner notes), they shoot what looks like a music video for “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around” but then a live performance, from a later date considering Sting’s length, is intercut with it.
The DVD bonus material offers complete performances of four songs, which run a total of 17 minutes: “Walking on the Moon” and “Next to You” from Seibu Kodo, Kyoto, Japan on February 20, 1980, and “Message in a Bottle” and “Born in the 50’s” from Today’s World Disco, Hong Kong, on February 27, 1980. Wonderful to see the audiences into the moment and not their cell phones.
The CD presents 11 songs from their first two albums recorded live in Japan (six songs), England (two songs), and Hong Kong (three songs) during the same tour. Unfortunately, there’s no info about the music other than the location the song was played. I am very curious because as “Walking on the Moon” starts, a saxophone joins the arrangement, and at the end, unless Andy used his gear to create an odd sound, a keyboard. It certainly sounds different from what’s on the DVD of this song played in Kyoto.
Many of the songs are played at a faster tempo live. On “So Lonely,” they slow down to a leisurely pace during a bridge for a nice change of pace, but then hit the accelerator when they return to the chorus. Hardcore fans should be happy with the inclusion of rare “Walking on the Moon” b-side, “Visions of the Night”.
The Police: Around The World is an entertaining scrapbook from the band’s early days. If this release had only offered the movie, I wouldn’t have recommended it, but the addition of bonus concert material and the live album make it worth owning.