Earlier this year we had the chance to view a version of Stewart Copeland's "Everyone Stares" film which, to be honest, left us with mixed feelings. Recently a final copy of the DVD dropped through the letterbox and we were anxious to revisit it and take another look to confirm or revise our first impressions. Happily, we can report that the commercial DVD release is much superior to the earlier version we saw and that there are some interesting extra features on there too.
So what was it that we weren't sure about on the earlier cut we saw? Well, it was really a combination of things - too much photo-shopping of images, too many speeded up shots of traffic and shipping at night and of street processions, a lack of chronological consistency, and how Stewart's narration seemed to drop off in the second half of the film. On reflection though, we were expecting too much. No, that's not right, we were expecting the wrong thing. We needed to remember that this was home film footage of the rawest kind. It's not professionally shot - apart from some tantalising pro footage from the 1982 US Festival in Glen Helen Park towards the end of the film - and nor was it ever meant to be. It's not a concert documentary - it was never meant to be that either. It was simply Stewart having fun on the road with a new toy, recording the ride that The Police were on.
So you need to ensure you make a mental adjustment before viewing the film. Don't expect to see professional 'road' footage such as that shot by the Burbridge's on the "Police Around The World" and "Police In The East" documentaries. The way Stewart's movie looks on screen with it's crude effects, shaky images and blurry shots is actually just right - it captures perfectly the era in which it was shot. An era of ratty clubs like CBGB's, the Vortex and the Nashville, of fanzines like "Sniffin' Glue", and of 7" vinyl and home made record sleeves. Watching this footage is the closest it is possible to get to actually sitting in the crew van with Kim Turner and the band and it is this that makes the film so remarkable and interesting.
Already screening on the US Showtime channel this month, the DVD will be available for all to see in September, and so rather than detail every little scene that is on there, we'll instead pick out some of our favourites... Sting singing the 'Yellow Rose of Texas'; Kim Turner, Jeff Seitz and Danny Quatrochi having a crew jam on 'Next To You'; Sting and Andy working on a new song, 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', in Wisseloord Studios; the first in store appearance in Phoenix; the "blondes only" gig at the Variety Arts Theatre in Los Angeles; the bizarre video shoot in Australia with a flock of sheep for 'Can't Stand Losing Ewe'; and the Hammersmith gigs where the band used an armoured car as transport between the Odeon and Palais when they played both venues on the same evening. Possibly the most prescient clip is the moment after a UK show in Birmingham where the stage door opens to reveal a sea of chanting, pushing, frenzied fans - the first time the band had received such a post-show response and the sign that a scary level of success was about to envelop them.
The film is, for the most part, in chronological order although there are some disconcerting edits where one minute you are in Montserrat in 1981 at the recording of 'Ghost In The Machine' and the next you are in Egypt and Hong Kong a year earlier, and tucked away late into the film and labelled '1982' is footage shot at the Hammersmith shows in 1979. Despite Stewart's footage being new, some of the scenes also have an eerie familiarity. This is because other versions of the scenes have appeared in earlier documentaries of the band's 1980 tour, and so you get the occasional, almost incestuous, images of Stewart filming the band being filmed such as in the clip of the video shoot for 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'. However, these minor oversights are unlikely to spoil anyone's viewing.
As fans though, the most disappointing aspect to the film is that despite a scene (incorrectly perhaps?) labelled as taking place in 1984, it really ends in 1982 after the 'Ghost In The Machine' tour. Although the band were hugely successful by that point, the truly stellar fame came with 1983's massive 'Synchronicity' album and the subsequent tour of baseball and football stadiums. We can only assume that by this time Stewart was either no longer filming at all, or, no longer filming with the enthusiasm that he had in previous years. Perhaps it is best that we are not there to witness the run up to the band's eventual split, but the flip side is that it would have been nice for Stewart to take us on the full journey instead of just three quarters of it.
There are two main extras on the DVD - one is a collection of nine outtakes entitled "Behind Andy's Camel" which includes footage of journalists Hugh Fielder and Phil Sutcliffe in their blond wigs at the Variety Theatre; a photoshoot at Madame Wongs, a Chinese restaurant they played in LA; and unforgettable (for the wrong reasons!) of Miles singing 'Every Breath You Take'. The second extra is entitled "Live Shards" and is just that - ten partial live clips from shows in Spain, Belgium, Holland and France and from the Terminal Island prison show in California. The soundtrack to the film also includes seven of Stewart's 'derangements' of Police songs, but the best extra is probably the audio commentary provided by Stewart and Andy Summers which really helps make the DVD special. This helps pin the footage to certain cities or venues which in turn triggers memories from both of them which are fun to hear.
Overall, despite a few minor shortcomings this is a must for fans of The Police and especially for those fans whose loyalties go back to the band's punk and new wave roots.
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