Each and every Sunday night when the clock hits eight, The Strombo Show celebrates the spirit of radio over on CBC Radio 2. It's music for music lovers by music lovers. To kick off the program, we always tip our hats to the legends, the noisemakers and the ground-breakers in a segment that we like to call: Nod to the Gods.
Today marks the anniversary of the first gig The Police ever played in America, down in the Bowery district of New York, at the legendary hole in the wall that was CBGB's. 'Fall Out' is the first single the band ever released. It never appeared on any of the group's studio albums — it was one of the first songs that the drummer presented to the singer of the band.
'Fall Out' is the only recording that features the band's original guitarist, Henri Pardovani. He was so nervous in studio that day that he only performed the solo and Stewart Copeland played the rest of the guitar parts. When the band was first forming, Copeland presented the song to Sting and they recorded it before any live performance with a budget of 150 euros that they had borrowed from Paul Mulligan.
Sting has cited Mick Jagger’s review of 'Fall Out' in Sounds Magazine as a contributor to its success. There was also a photo of Jagger with the single in hand as part of that article as he is quoted: "I like all these new wave groups. In a way, I identify with them. But they're not having much impact and unless they do a lot more work they're gonna be dead, 'cos rock'n'roll goes through stages very quickly."
Copeland felt the success was due "purely on the strength of the cover, because of the fashion at the time. Punk was in and it was one of the first punk records — and there weren't very many to choose from. The average punk had every punk record that was available and when the next one came out which was the Police record, he bought that, too. But still I think it was a good record, so it did more than the average punk single."
As they performed at CBGB (Country, Bluegrass and Blues), the community that surrounded them shaped an entirely new sound and was in many ways the birthplace for bands like the Ramones, Misfits, Television, the Patti Smith Group, Mink DeVille,The Dead Boys,The Dictators, The Fleshtones, The Voidoids, The Cramps, The B-52's, Blondie, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Shirts, Talking Heads and so, so much more. It then became a home for many touring bands along with an underground hardcore movement that performed mostly in matinee shows, those artists included Reagan Youth, Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, Leeway, Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of It All, The Misfits, Sheer Terror, Straight Ahead, Stillborn and Youth of Today.
The club shut down on October 15, 2006 with a final week featuring multi-night stands by Bad Brains, The Dictators along with an acoustic set by Blondie. More contemporary acts like Avail and The Bouncing Souls opened shows throughout the week. The final show was performed by Patti Smith and was joined by Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers for a handful of songs. Television's Richard Lloyd also guested on a few songs. Toward the end of their set, Smith and her band played "Gloria", paying tribute to the Ramones during the chorus by alternating between the original lyrics and the "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" of "Blitzkrieg Bop". In her final encore, the song "Elegie", Smith read from a list of musicians who had died since they last played at CBGB.
It was a movement that was recently given the Hollywood treatment by Randall Miller with Alan Rickman as CBGB's founder Hilly Kristal.
It was just the beginning for The Police. After the original trio toured to support Cherry Vanilla and Wayne County & The Electric Chairs in 1977, Sting was invited to join a Gong reunion with former Eric Burdon and The Animals guitarist Andy Summers, but the drummer was unable to play. Sting invited Copeland. They recorded a few tunes, including the first version of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. After this little affair, which was released years later in 1997 under the name 'Strontium 90: Police Academy', the band reunited with Padovani as a foursome until they booted him out a few weeks later.
Sting was soon after inspired by the prostitutes he saw near the band's hotel in France and was also influenced by the character in Cyrano de Bergerac, an old poster of which was hanging in the hotel foyer. And the trio of Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers made this happen.
For further musical musings, new and old, join the collective for The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, every Sunday night at 8PM. And if you'd like to catch up or relisten, all of the episodes are archived on our Radio page.