Hello once again, Rocksmith fans!
This week’s Legacy DLC review will be covering a three-pack from everybody’s favorite Post-Punk/Reggae-Rock/New-Wave band, The Police, released on May 1st, 2012. For all you guitarists out there, get ready for some jazzy chords and solos!
Yes, that is a real photo of The Police. Please don’t ask me where it’s from.
Arrangements: Rhythm, Alternate Rhythm, Bass (Picked)
Tuning: E Standard
I dearly apologize, I just couldn’t resist.
Out of all the songs in this pack, Roxanne most clearly shows The Police’s roots in reggae as well as Andy Summers’ abilities as a jazz guitarist; and while this may be the most accessible song out of the three, it is by no means a walk in the park for any beginner- to intermediate-level guitarist. If you aren’t very familiar with jazz chords, the primary rhythm arrangement will take quite some time to effectively master due to the large amount of shifting between different chord shapes during the verses. Surprisingly, the alternate rhythm arrangement is just a single-note version of the main rhythm, so beginners may find it better to practice on first. It’s a really song fun to play, nevertheless, and it certainly showcases the potential for more jazz guitar DLC in the future.
While Sting does posses quite a bit technical instrumental skill (as showcased in the bassline for Masoko Tanga), his basslines on most of The Police’s more popular songs tend to follow a “less is more” philosophy, and Roxanne isn’t much different in this regard; it goes through a very simple groove during the verses and then mostly follows the guitar’s rhythm during the choruses. I know I’ve criticized basslines in songs on past Legacy reviews for being too simplistic or just following the guitar’s rhythm outright, but there’s just something that’s sort of… hypnotically relaxing about Roxanne’s bass track. I know that doesn’t describe it much, but it’s one of those really simple arrangements any bass guitarist regardless of skill level can just zone out to while playing. I would recommend it to beginners most, though.
Song: Message in a Bottle
Arrangements: Lead, Rhythm, Bass (Picked)
Tuning: E Standard
Now here’s a track that might take some stretchy fingers. Containing one of the most recognizable riffs in rock music (comprised of power chord arpeggios with an extra fifth, which Andy Summers partially recycled in “Every Breath You Take”, also on Rocksmith 2014), this song is definitely for any guitarists looking for a catchy riff to sink their teeth into, providing your fingers are strong enough to reach from the second fret all the way over to the sixth fret. The quick transitions between the different chord positions and the numerous solos throughout the song will make for quite a challenge, so I would highly recommend it to any high-level guitarists looking for something really fun and really challenging on lead guitar.
What surprised me about this track was the layout of the rhythm arrangement. While it contains a few of the same arpeggio chord shapes as the lead arrangement, it only uses the two with root notes at the fourth and seventh frets in addition to one rooted at the sixth fret on the A string containing a dissonant tritone between it and a power chord rooted at the 7th fret on the D string. It’s quite different from the lead arrangement, but since it only contains the chords without all of the solos, I would recommend it more to lower-level guitarists before they try the lead arrangement.
The bass is the most simplistic in the whole pack, as it strictly follows the root notes of the lead’s chords with a few octave jumps. It doesn’t really have the same kind of hypnotically relaxing groove as Roxanne, so while serviceable, this ends up being the least recommended bass arrangement.
Song: Synchronicity II
Arrangements: Lead, Alternate Lead, Bass (Picked), Alternate Bass (Picked)
Tuning: E Standard
This is quite possibly one of the more unconventional songs in The Police’s long line of hits. It may not be the most unconventional in the Police’s whole discography, but it’s certainly unconventional for Rocksmith standards both structurally and rhythmically (other than Radiohead, of course). Along with an unusual chord progression that varies throughout the song, it also makes use of a lot of unconventional, dissonant jazz chords and arpeggios; making it possibly one the closest things to progressive rock the Police have ever made. The lead and alternate lead guitar charts are also quite difficult in the pack to master, at least on par with Message in a Bottle. While the repetitive jazz chords at the beginning and the main riff might be relatively easy to pin down, the unusual chords and the many, many fast arpeggios are what will likely trip up most guitarists. The alternate lead arrangement is even more difficult, as it contains much more of these arpeggios, so I would recommend mastering the primary lead before trying the alternate. Nevertheless, both are quite fun to play, and the song’s unusual structure is a different, yet welcome change to the Rocksmith DLC catalog.
Now here’s something you don’t see all too often in the Rocksmith catalog; an alternate bass arrangement. While both mostly follow the guitar’s rhythm, they also have occasionally different sets of notes, with the alternate arrangement diverging from the guitar track a little more than the primary one. Both are certainly more challenging than either Roxanne or Message in a Bottle, so I would most recommend these tracks to any mid-level bass guitarists.
Pick of the pack: Message in a Bottle
I hope you all know some finger-stretching exercises. Have fun, and see you all next time!