There are very few, and by very few I mean very few, artists of the 1980’s that have a permanent hold on a playlist in my personal library. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Def Lepard, Van Halen, Depeche Mode, Genesis, and a whole slew of others come in and out and in again, but very few make a permanent home. One band who has made the cut, without fail, is The Police.
An English band oozing with incredible talent, Sting on vocals and rhythm, Summers on guitar, and Copeland rounding out the percussion, this is really a three-piece punk band in a funk/ska/reggae/new wave jacket. They rose to fame in the late 70’s, crafted amazing works of art in the 80’s, before ultimately receiving the death blow via internal spats that went unresolved. Nonetheless, rare is it that a band can command such a presence on the pop charts while also fully being themselves. Legendary, they really are.
Wrapped around albums in 1980 and 1983 is the classic (all of them are really), Ghost In The Machine saw the band continue their dominance of the airwaves and pop charts while blossoming as a free-form funk band with a lead vocalist capable of range and vibrato like very few. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Invisible Son” are the heavy hitters here, but it’s “Demolition Man” that gives you a full bodied The Police experience.
It’s a long, schizo-track with poignant punk rock lyrics, a hyper reggae vibe, and of course, incredible instrumentation. The song is fabulous, and has since been recorded by some really great musicians. It has a Grateful Dead jam feel that permeates the entire album, and covers their entire catalog of music. THIS is what makes the band so special – their willingness to be fully themselves while laying claim to the pop-rock throne. They were that good.
“Demolition Man”, and all its wild tangent instrumentation, works because it is just so well done. The horns enter here, but not until Copeland rifles a three second drum interlude. The guitar solo minute doesn’t begin until Sting proclaims, “I’m the sort of thing they ban. I’m a walking disaster. I’m a demolition man.” The bass remains consistently thick, the speed quick, the parts running together into a beautiful serenade. Individually the parts seem to be working against each other, but The Police always cordially invited those pieces into one harmonious event. It just worked.
The Oklahoma City Barons’ struggle has been consistency. The parts might seem rag tag, perhaps less than desired, but they are capable parts. And like “Demolition Man” by The Police, when those various, and vastly different parts, work together, it can result in really good finales. Or at least you hope.
The San Antonio Rampage, with an inconsistent start themselves, are chasing the Barons in the standings. The two teams are paired with NHL counterparts that struggle mightily themselves, but somehow in recent seasons each AHL team has found success here and there, and not always everywhere. And although both teams are scraping the wrong side of the standings barrel at the moment, you just can’t discount their intestinal fortitude and ability to win when it matters most.
The previous two meetings this season gave each team a victory, but really the Barons only really dominated for two of the six periods of play. The Barons scored seven goals across those two games with five of those coming from Linus Omark or Taylor Fedun, two players with recent time in Edmonton. The other goals were scored by the surprisingly talented, and super stealthy, Matt Ford. For the Barons to win, scoring will need to come from the depth. That’s a tall task.
Led by rookie centerman, Vincent Trochek who’s playing at a point per game pace (11), the Rampage can be a dangerous team if they want to. Like OKC, they just have to show it more often.
But San Antonio is a squad that is on the cusp of a probably “square one” moment as they introduce a new coach this weekend. Kevin Dineen, and his associates, were relived of their duties with the Florida Panthers after a pretty brutal start to the season. The coaching dismissal led to a carousel of new coaching hires system wide. To Florida goes Peter Horchek, and to the HC job in San Antonio goes Tom Rowe. The Rampage assistants remain the same for now. Rowe has recent KHL experience alongside NHL assistant time in Carolina. He is an interesting hire, and given the Florida depth issues, maybe he can steer the AHL towards betterment.
The Rampage, historically, face-off very well against Oklahoma City. Both capable on the power play, the penalty kill, and in the net. For the Barons, they’ve always had just a bit more talent.
And more talent they’ll get, after a Friday night where trades and signings were made, but none greater than the addition of Ilya Bryzgalov, the goaltender full of personality. Signed to play in Edmonton, but able to come to OKC on a conditioning stint, he just might be the starting tender on Tuesday night. In the meantime, Tyler Bunz will probably get the start on Saturday as Olivier Roy has been shipped to the Flames organization in another transaction. More on all this to come later in the day, but for now, know that the shakeup continues on the farm.
The addition of Linus Omark and Ben Eager will help the top and bottom portions of the roster. This makes the Barons better, despite what folks in Edmonton believe about those two and their NHL potential.
The weekend game, followed by the one on Tuesday, will be a bit of a test for Todd Nelson who has rarely had a familiar lineup from week to week. Perhaps the demolition thought applies here too. Either way, buckle up.