Stewart Copeland’s Deranged for Orchestra tour took him to smash old Police tapes track by track. This helped the drummer and his collaborators on stage reconfigure the songs for the strings.
Along the way, many of the most famous police songs were completely reinvented, while others like “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” remained largely untouched. “He’s the one I didn’t ‘bother’,” Copeland admits in an exclusive UCR interview. “I just listened to it and did a teardown, then orchestrated it, pretty much intact.”
Still, he adds, part of his performance of that 1981 Top 5 smash single remained elusive:
Going through multitracks had to be a journey. What’s the favorite thing you found?
There’s this drum filling, towards the end [on “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”]. Everyone says, “Oh man, good battery fill; you have to play that! And of course, since I never play the same way twice, I just thought, “You know what, I’m going to find that fill of drums and put it in the score”. Well I searched high and low in the multitrack for this battery fill. I thought, “Wait a minute, let me play the record.” “Whoa, wait a minute: the record is an entirely different recording!” »Different tempo, quite different.
Now, I don’t remember having recorded “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” more than once. I remember the day we made the record. Everything was cranky. We tried the reggae version, we tried [a lot of different things]. Finally, “Alright, Sting-o, play me your demo and I’ll just put the drums on the demo.” I’m there all cranky in the morning, Sting standing above me waiting – and that’s the record.
But the one I have, my multitrack, is not that. It’s another fleshed out version of the song. So I have no idea where it came from. Either way, “inconvenience” is the other version. Same shape, just a few details, a different tempo for one thing.
Watch the police video for “Every Little Thing They Do Is Magic”
You come from that time when you made records that weren’t perfect. Before you got to the multitrack stuff you’re talking about, I’m sure there were elements that were mistakes that were left that only add to the fabric of the songs.
Well yes, the errors were left – because they hadn’t invented Pro Tools yet. [Laughs.] We had to play that damn song ourselves from start to finish. Perhaps the best we could do was take the first part of this take and the second half of this take. That’s about all we could do. Everything else was analog. We had to play it on the spot. We couldn’t just grab the waveform and take it from here and put it there. We couldn’t adjust it automatically. We had to do it with our bare hands.
Are you happy that this is the magic you had to work with? I don’t think it would be the same if you had Pro Tools.
I can think of 10 different ways that modern technology and other factors – like, after playing these songs on the road, you really find the best way to get back from chorus to verse. All those little details as you work. I think the record would have been so cool if I had known that when I was in the studio. However, the recordings seemed to be working!
That’s always the trick. You save them and very often you run out of time because they want you to get back on the road. I know this is something artists struggle with a lot.
Well, the other thing, a lot of artists – not the police, but other bands – are wondering, “Well, how are we going to play this live? We never thought about it for a moment. We just filled all the space available on the multitracks. We would fill it with something and let live take care of itself.
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