Most artists resist labels, but the Police were one of the few bands that were truly able to distance itself from them by making music that couldn't be classified, no matter how hard fans and critics tried.

On their 1978 debut album, Outlandos d’Amour, they juggled a mix of pop, jazz, rock, New Wave, punk and reggae. There was even some jazz in the way singer and bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland approached their music. Not too many bands could play this technically well and rock at the same time.

That made the Police an anomaly in the late '70s and early '80s, when punks and traditional rockers were carving out dividing lines. Were they a pop group? Or a rock band? Or something between punk and New Wave? Or maybe they were just juiced-up reggae. Fact is, they were all of these things and more.

And they were great at them. In five short years, the Police released only five albums, almost all of them classics. They were celebrated almost from the start, and the friction among the band's three members was no secret and almost palpable at times. That tension fueled their best work; Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity, their last two albums, are fraught with separation stories.

As our list of the Police Albums Ranked Worst to Best shows, the spaces between records are sufficiently slight and certainly open for discussion. Is their second album better than their first one? Did they really peak near the end of their career? Like the five dozen or so genre-defying songs the band recorded in its lifetime, the answers aren't so cut and dried.

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