For a few years in the 1980s Andy Summers was one third of the biggest band in the world. During the course of filming this documentary—based on his 2007 memoir “One Train Later”—he finds himself walking into a karaoke bar, unrecognized, to join a stranger on stage to sing one of his biggest hits, “Every Breath You Take.”
The former guitar player of The Police seems comfortable in his place in the rock and roll firmament, but nonetheless uses “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” as a way to get his side of the story of why the band called it quits at the peak of their fame out to the world. In some ways it plays like a musical cautionary tale, in other ways like a New Wave “Spinal Tap.”
The Police—Summers, Sting and Stuart Copeland—were birthed out of the punk rock movement. With their bleached blonde hair and tuneful ability, however, they quickly became a mainstream success, charting hits like “Roxanne,” “Walking on the Moon” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” filling stadiums while, at the same time, allowing their egos to become as inflated as their record sales.
Summers—the only new interview subject, all other interviews are archival—walks the viewer through his career from sixteen-year-old jazz player to guitarist in Eric Burdon’s New Animals to meeting his wife Kate—who left him at the height of his fame, only to return when things calmed down somewhat—as a broke and unemployed musician slumming it in Los Angeles.
The story picks up when he joins The Police, a then struggling trio playing London’s punk clubs, and quickly begins to detail the cracks that eventually widen to split the band apart. Arguments over credit, fights about whose songs would be recorded and included on their albums and Sting’s habit of referring to the band as a launching pad to a solo career, turned their working lives into a pressure cooker, one that finally boiled over in 1986.
There isn’t as much down-and-dirty info in “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” as you might expect from insiders tell-all documentary and Summers is an amiable host but the inclusion of fresh interviews with his former band mates—who appear in archival and some newly shot footage from their one-off 2008 reunion tour—might have broadened the story and added some grit to the tale.