Ghost in the Machine (album)

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.

Ghost in the Machine
Studio album by
Released2 October 1981 (1981-10-02)
RecordedJanuary – September 1981
StudioAIR Studios, Montserrat
Le Studio, Morin-Heights, Quebec
LanguageEnglish, French
LabelA&MAMLK 63730
The Police chronology
Zenyatta Mondatta
Ghost in the Machine
Singles from Ghost in the Machine
  1. "Invisible Sun"
    Released: 25 September 1981
  2. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
    Released: 2 November 1981
  3. "Spirits in the Material World"
    Released: 11 December 1981
  4. "Secret Journey"
    Released: May 1982

The album reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 2 on the US 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 US in place of "Invisible Sun". The album went multi-platinum in the US. It was listed at No. 323 in the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[2]

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:

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 title, 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.[3] The final three songs, "Omegaman", "Secret Journey" and "Darkness", return to the darker sound which opens the album.

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 sixteen-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 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
The Austin Chronicle[5]
Chicago Tribune[6]
Rolling Stone[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[8]
The Village VoiceB+[9]

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."[9] 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."[7] 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.[2] Pitchfork ranked it at number 86 in their list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.

Commercial performance

"Omegaman" was chosen by A&M to be the first single from the album, but Sting refused to allow its release in single form.[10][11] "Invisible Sun" was released as the first single (in the UK only) and was a great success, making it to No. 2[12] 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 US and No. 1 in Britain, and "Spirits in the Material World" made it to No. 11 in the US and No. 12 in the UK.[12]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Sting, except where noted.

Side one[13]
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
6."Too Much Information" 3:43
7."Rehumanize Yourself"Sting, Stewart Copeland3:10
8."One World (Not Three)" 4:47
9."Ωmegaman"Andy Summers2:48
10."Secret Journey" 3:34
Total length:41:03


The Police

  • Sting – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, double bass, keyboards, saxophone
  • Andy Summers – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Stewart Copeland – drums, backing vocals (5, 11), percussion, keyboards

Guest musician



Year Single Chart Position
1981 "Invisible Sun" UK Singles 2[12]
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" UK Singles 1[12]
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[12]
Billboard Mainstream Rock 7
Billboard Pop Singles 11
1982 "Secret Journey" Billboard Mainstream Rock 29
Billboard Pop Singles 46


Certifications and sales

Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[32] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[33] Gold 299,100[34]
Germany (BVMI)[35] Gold 250,000^
Italy 200,000[36]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[37] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. Grimstad, Paul. "What is Avant-Pop?". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  2. "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012.
  3. Garbarini, Vic (Spring 2000). "I think if we came back ...", Revolver.
  4. Prato, Greg. "Ghost in the Machine – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  5. Mee, Daniel (25 July 2008). "The Police: Ghost in the Machine (A&M)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  6. Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  7. 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.
  8. Considine, J. D. (2004). "The Police". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 644–45. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. Christgau, Robert (4 May 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  10. Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0.
  11. 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.
  12. The Police in the UK Charts Archived 26 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Official Charts.
  13. Ghost in the Machine (album) at Discogs
  14. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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  19. "Album Search: The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  20. "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1981" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  21. Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
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  23. " The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  24. " The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  25. "Allmusic: Ghost in the Machine: Chart & Awards". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
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  27. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1981" (in Dutch). Archived from the original (ASP) on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  28. "Les Albums (CD) de 1981 par InfoDisc" (in French). Archived from the original (PHP) on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  29. " UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  30. "Top 100 Albums '82". RPM. 25 December 1982. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  31. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1982" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  32. "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Music Canada.
  33. "French album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine" (in French). InfoDisc. Select THE POLICE and click OK. 
  34. "Les Albums Or" (in French). Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  35. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Ghost in the Machine')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  36. De Luigi, Mario (14 August 1982). "International Dateline - Milan" (PDF). Cash Box. p. 30. Retrieved 11 December 2019 via American Radio History.
  37. "New Zealand album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". Recorded Music NZ.
  38. "British album certifications – The Police – Ghost in the Machine". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Ghost in the Machine in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  39. "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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