Ghost in the Machine (album)

For the 1999 thrash metal album, see Eternal Decision.
Ghost in the Machine
Studio album by The Police
Released 2 October 1981 (1981-10-02)
Recorded January – September 1981
Studio AIR Studios, Montserrat
Le Studio, Quebec
Length 41:03
Language English, French
Label A&MAMLK 63730
The Police chronology
Zenyatta Mondatta
Ghost in the Machine
Singles from Ghost in the Machine
  1. "Invisible Sun"
    Released: September 1981
  2. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
    Released: November 1981
  3. "Spirits in the Material World"
    Released: January 1982
  4. "Secret Journey"
    Released: May 1982

Ghost in the Machine is the fourth studio album by English rock band The Police. The album was originally released on 2 October 1981 by A&M. The songs were recorded between January and September 1981 during sessions that took place at AIR Studios in Montserrat and Le Studio in Quebec, assisted by record producer Hugh Padgham.

The album reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart and No. 2 in the U.S. Billboard 200. The band released three successful singles from the album: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Invisible Sun", and "Spirits in the Material World". However the song "Secret Journey" was released as a single in the U.S. in place of "Invisible Sun". The album went multi-platinum in the U.S. It was listed at No. 323 in the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Production and recording

The album was the first Police record to feature heavy use of keyboards and horns. "Spirits in the Material World" has a rhythmic string synthesizer part, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" uses piano arpeggios and "Invisible Sun" has a background of synthesizer chords. The following twenty minutes of the record—"Hungry for You (J'aurais Toujours Faim de Toi)" through "One World (Not Three)"—include many saxophone harmonies, while the opening to "Secret Journey" showcases the Roland Guitar Synthesizer.

Sting included all the synthesizer parts in his demos for the songs, and brought in Jean Roussel for the piano parts on "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". The demo for "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was such a high-budget recording that the group could not better it with the equipment available at AIR Studios; they ended up using it as the backing track for the official recording, with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers dubbing their parts on. Sting also played all the saxophone parts on the album. Summers recollected:

I have to say I was getting disappointed with the musical direction around the time of Ghost in the Machine. With the horns and synth coming in, the fantastic raw-trio feel—all the really creative and dynamic stuff—was being lost. We were ending up backing a singer doing his pop songs.

The LP opens with "Spirits in the Material World", featuring keyboards dubbed over Summers' reggae-inspired guitar licks. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" features piano, a strong Caribbean vibe, and an extended non-verbal vocal solo at the end. "Invisible Sun" is a mixture of slow, steady verses, a bombastic chorus, and several guitar solos. "Hungry For You (J'Aurais Toujours Faim de Toi)" is sung mostly in French, with the bass and horns both repeating a single 8-note melody for the length of the song, while the guitar maintains a steady beat. "Demolition Man", the band's longest song—almost six minutes in length—features a strong bass line and saxophone, and was written by Sting while staying at Peter O'Toole's Irish mansion. It became a belated hit in 1993 as the theme song for the action movie of the same name, starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. Grace Jones and Sting have both recorded solo versions of the song. Manfred Mann's Earth Band also recorded a version—rearranged and with extensive use of synthesizers—in 1982 for their Somewhere in Afrika album.

"Too Much Information", "Rehumanize Yourself" and "One World (Not Three)" feature heavy use of horns. As with "Landlord" and "Dead End Job", Copeland had written both music and lyrics for "Rehumanize Yourself" but Sting rejected the lyrics and replaced them with ones he wrote himself.[1] The final three songs, "Omegaman", "Secret Journey" and "Darkness", return to the darker sound which opens the album. "Omegaman" was chosen by A&M to be the first single from the album, but Sting—who had only played on the song grudgingly—refused to allow its release in single form.[2][3]

Artwork and titling

Much of the material in the album was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Ghost in the Machine, which also provided the title. It was the first Police album to bear an English-language title.

In his younger days Sting was an avid reader of Koestler. The subsequent Police album Synchronicity was inspired by Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence, which mentions Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity.

The cover art for Ghost in the Machine features a seven-segment display-inspired graphic that depicts the heads of the three band members, each with a distinctive hair style (from left to right, Andy Summers, Sting with spiky hair, and Stewart Copeland with a fringe); the band was unable to decide on a photograph to use for the cover. Wire bonds can be seen on the original issue vinyl album cover, suggesting perhaps that the display is custom rather than merely seven-segment, or perhaps that it is a photographic collage. The album's cover is ranked at No. 45 in VH1's 50 Greatest Album Covers. The graphic was designed by Mick Haggerty.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[5]
Rolling Stone[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[7]
The Village VoiceB+[8]

The reception for Ghost in the Machine was mostly positive. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote that "it's pointless to deny that they make the chops work for the common good—both their trickiness and their simplicity provide consistent pleasure here."[8] Debra Rae Cohen of Rolling Stone noted that the band had showed "more commitment, more real anger, on Ghost in the Machine than ever before.[6] Greg Prato of AllMusic, in a retrospective review of the album, wrote that the Police "had streamlined their sound to focus more on their pop side and less on their trademark reggae-rock."[4] Prato went on to say that while it "was not a pop masterpiece, Ghost in the Machine did serve as an important stepping stone between their more direct early work and their more ambitious latter direction".[4]

In 2000 Q magazine placed Ghost in the Machine at number 76 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2012 the album was ranked number 323 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the band's highest-ranking work on the list. Pitchfork Media ranked it at number 86 in their list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.

Commercial performance

"Invisible Sun", released as the first single (in the UK only) was a great success, making it to No. 2[9] even though the video was banned by the BBC for including footage of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Later "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" reached No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 1 in Britain, and "Spirits in the Material World" made it to No. 11 in the U.S. and No. 12 in the UK.[9]

Track listing

All tracks written by Sting, except where noted[10]. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Spirits in the Material World"   2:59
2. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"   4:22
3. "Invisible Sun"   3:44
4. "Hungry for You (J'aurais toujours faim de toi)"   2:52
5. "Demolition Man"   5:57
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Too Much Information"   3:43
7. "Rehumanise Yourself" (Sting, Stewart Copeland) 3:10
8. "One World (Not Three)"   4:47
9. "Ωmegaman" (Andy Summers) 2:48
10. "Secret Journey"   3:34
11. "Darkness" (Copeland) 3:14
Total length:





Year Single Chart Position
1981 "Invisible Sun" UK Singles 2[9]
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" UK Singles 1[9]
Billboard Mainstream Rock 1
Billboard Pop Singles 3
"One World (Not Three)"/"Too Much Information"/"Every Little thing She Does Is Magic" Billboard Club Play Singles 60
"Spirits in the Material World" UK Singles 12[9]
Billboard Mainstream Rock 7
Billboard Pop Singles 11
1982 "Secret Journey" Billboard Mainstream Rock 29
Billboard Pop Singles 46


Weekly charts

Chart (1981/82) Position
Australian Kent Music Report[11] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[12] 11
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[13] 1
Dutch Mega Albums Chart[14] 1
French SNEP Albums Chart[15] 1
German Media Control Albums Chart[16] 4
Italian Albums Chart[17] 1
Japanese Oricon LPs Chart[18] 29
New Zealand Albums Chart[19] 5
Norwegian Albums Chart[20] 5
Swedish Albums Chart[21] 6
UK Albums Chart[9] 1
US Billboard 200[22] 2

Year-end charts

Chart (1981) Position
Australian Albums Chart[11] 47
Canadian Albums Chart[23] 19
Dutch Albums Chart[24] 5
French Albums Chart[25] 46
Italian Albums Chart[17] 12
UK Albums Chart[26] 5
Chart (1982) Position
Australian Albums Chart[11] 63
Canadian Albums Chart[27] 42
Dutch Albums Chart[28] 55
US Billboard 200 10


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[29] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[30] Gold 299,100[31]
Germany (BVMI)[32] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[34] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. Garbarini, Vic (Spring 2000). "I think if we came back...", Revolver.
  2. Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0.
  3. Sam Adams (24 December 2012). "The Police's Andy Summers on his songs, Sting, and being ripped off by Puff Daddy" (Interview). A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 'Omegaman' was a really strong piece. A&M wanted to put it out as the first single. But Sting, who was feeling his power at the time, was freaked out. He didn't want it out. He refused. He got very upset, but A&M didn't want to upset him for all the typical reasons, so it didn't get put out.
  4. 1 2 3 Prato, Greg. "Ghost in the Machine – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  5. Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  6. 1 2 Cohen, Debra Rae (10 December 1981). "The Police: Ghost In The Machine". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  7. Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "The Police". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-743-20169-8.
  8. 1 2 Christgau, Robert (4 May 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Police in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.
  10. Discogs Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. 1 2 3 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. "The Police – Ghost in the Machine –" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  13. "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 35, No. 18" (PHP). RPM. 28 November 1981. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  14. " The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP). MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  15. "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (PHP). Retrieved 1 May 2014. Note: user must select 'the POLICE' from drop-down.
  16. "Album Search: The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  17. 1 2 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1981" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  18. Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  19. " The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  20. " The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  21. " The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  22. "Allmusic: Ghost in the Machine: Chart & Awards". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  23. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1981". RPM. 26 December 1981. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  24. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1981" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  25. "Les Albums (CD) de 1981 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  26. " UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  27. "Top 100 Albums '82". RPM. 25 December 1982. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  28. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1982" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  29. "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Music Canada.
  30. "French album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (in French). InfoDisc. Select THE POLICE and click OK
  31. "Les Albums Or" (in French). Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  32. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Ghost in the Machine')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  33. "British album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Ghost in the Machine in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  34. "American album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
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