In the summer of 1997, Puff Daddy took "I'll Be Missing You," a sappy reworking of "Every Breath You Take," to the top of the charts across the world; it became the biggest rap single in history. The success of "I'll Be Missing You" had the bizarre byproduct of making the Police hip again among both rock and rap artists. So, what better way to celebrate the occasion -- as well as the 20th anniversary of the Police's first album -- than to release another compilation, this time combining highlights from the Police and Sting's solo career? The Very Best of Sting & the Police does just that, combining 14 songs -- not necessarily his biggest hits, either -- in a seemingly random chronological order. The Police cuts are generally classics ("Message in a Bottle," "Can't Stand Losing You," "Every Breath You Take," "Walking on the Moon," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," "Don't Stand so Close to Me," "Roxanne"), but there are several big hits left off, which should probably be expected for an integrated collection like this. What does come as a surprise is the solo material. There's plenty of good music on his records, but the selection here emphasizes his MOR side, relying on songs like "Fields of Gold," "Englishman in New York," "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot," "Russians," and "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," instead of some of his more ambitious material. Obviously, that selection is designed to snag a mature, thirty-something audience, which makes the inclusion of Puff Daddy's remix of "Roxanne" (included in both its original and remixed incarnations) a little puzzling, since that strives to appeal to a younger audience. Then again, you don't really expect coherence from a collection that simply wants to cash in at the right moment. While it's hard to ignore the fact that this disc isn't necessary, the music itself is good, and certain casual fans may find this useful, but anyone following Sting or the Police for any length of time will find The Very Best Of superfluous.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine