This is quite literally the greatest Police album you have never heard. Flashback is credited to Eberhard Schoener, but Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland, and Sting are so deeply involved as to make this a de facto collaboration.
Eberhard Schoener is a German director/musician who invited his friend Andy Summers to take part in a show he was creating. The Police had just formed, and were scuffling for gigs, so one day in early 1977 the trio went to Munich. What they encountered there was “A multi media extravaganza of lasers, circus, rock, classical, and electronic music, with ballet dancers and a mime artist,” according to Sting’s liner notes.
When the stage appearances ended, work commenced on what would become Flashback. By all accounts the four got along famously, until the arrival of manager Miles Copeland that is. Copeland’s vision for the Police did not include stints as the backup band for an experimental German composer, and he quickly moved to bury any mentions of this period from their history for good.
Flashback was released in 1978 on a small German label, and promptly disappeared. It has remained an obscure (and extremely rare) curio in the years since. But the album has finally seen the light of day as a CD through the efforts of the MIG label.
This is certainly a far cry from The Police's debut, Outlandos d’Amour, which was released the same year. All of the tracks on Flashback were written by Eberhard, and take the form of two song cycles. Side one of the original vinyl LP contained a suite of six short tunes, subtitled “From The New World.” It is the description of a journey to the United States and back to Europe. Side two, “From The Old World,” contains three longer tracks meant to evoke a vision of the Rhine, from delta to river head.