In a few weeks—March 25th, to be exact— former Police guitarist Andy Summers will release his first foray into straight up pop/rock outside of the trio that made him famous, the first since his lackluster 1987 album XYZ [MCA]. Inspired by The Police’s reunion tour of ‘07-‘08, Summers decided to put aside his jazz and new age endeavors and get back to the rock. And with his new band, Circa Zero, the masterful six-stringer returns to the trio format where he made his fame and reputation.
Unfortunately, the bland pseudo U2 with a hint of the Police and a sprinkle of a lethargic, less interesting version of The Fixx on the band’s debut Circus Hero would be a tad easier to digest if, in an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Summers hadn’t prefaced its release with a declaration/mission statement that drips of arrogance, hypocrisy and fogeyism.
Summers somehow seems to be under the impression that there’s an actual audience for music made "by people who can’t really write songs". (Wow, not even our cynical asses are that jaded.) Now, let’s put aside how this makes him sound every bit the cranky 71 year old man he is and concentrate on the two more salient points it brings to light:
1- Because The Police came out of what was then rock's alternative/indie scene—even if the actual nomenclature was yet to be applied at the time—his dis was hypocritical and uncalled for.
2- His previous pop/rock record, the aforementioned XYZ, was drowning in subpar songwriting, and seeing as how Summers never contributed anything solid in that particular department to The Police's catalog—“Omegaman” being the lone exception—it's pretty rich for him to talk about "people who can’t really write songs".
All of this would be moot if Circus Hero actually delivered the goods. Sorry, Charlie. Truth be told, it's not so much a dud as an undercooked misfire. Let's put it this way: You know someone dropped the ball somewhere along the line when the acoustic renditions of three of the albums tunes—included as bonus tracks—outshine the entire rest of the record. Yup.
And the less said about that name...
Highlights: "Underground", "Gamma Ray", "Underwater", "Light the Fuse and Run", the acoustic bonus tracks.