The Police were just halfway into their career by the time the tour documentary Around The World first came out. They were still a few years away from writing and releasing their bestselling record, 1983’s wildly innovative Synchronicity, and they still had not reached their peak popularity, a steady run that would see them selling out stadiums across the globe. Regardless, this film marks a perfect snapshot at a band just starting to feel their importance, straddling the fading-punk era and the early-New Wave movement, without really fitting in with either genre.
Mercury Studios has just put out an impressively restored and expanded version of this oft-overlooked documentary and paired it with a live CD and LP, with never before released audio. Considering the band is showing no intentions of revisiting their brief 2007/2008 reunion, this may be the best Police fans can hope for nowadays. And in terms of consolation prizes, it’s pretty impressive. Around The World follows the trio on their first world tour in 1979-80.
Unlike later footage of the band nearing their end, all three members seem to actually enjoy each other’s company here and are seen joking throughout – especially in one of the most memorable segments when the band is in Japan and Sting and Stewart Copeland try and hype up a costumed Andy Summers who is about to Sumo wrestle a guy about twice his size. The between performance clips – with the members sightseeing, meeting fans, holding press conferences, and acting out skits (which are admittedly corny, but a little endearing) – are all pretty standard fare for ‘70s and ’80s music docs, but it’s the footage from the live sets that make the movie worth owning. Throughout the film the band performs “Walking On The Moon,” “Next To You” “Message In A Bottle” and “Born in the ‘50’s,” the last two of which are impressively covered.
The music companion to this set is flawless, with 11 live tracks recorded in Japan, Hong Kong, and England covering the band’s first three albums. This sets capture one of the greatest bands to come out of the 1980s just starting to gain global attention and at the point where they feel they still need to prove themselves to their audiences with each show. And it clearly shows here.