Reggatta de Blanc

San Pedro, CA, US
Terminal Island Federal Penitentiary
Rock's Police still arresting...

The rock group Police definitely has a captive audience recently when they played to a full house at California's Terminal Island prison. The concert was not merely their best publicity stunt since the ''Police will Pay Your Parking Tickets'' campaign in Washington earlier this year, it was something the Anglo-American trio has wanted to do for some time.

Why Terminal Island? ''This prison has mostly young people in it, so it's a good place for a rock band to go. We're not just going in and out - we're trying to donate equipment to the prison as well. We wanted to do more than just a gig where we cop a lot of press out of playing a prison concert - Police in Prison headlines, all that stuff,'' said drummer Stewart Copeland, an American member of the group.

After playing to approximately 500 prisoners (all the auditorium would hold) with some of the most interested inmates helping out the crew backstage, the Police donated around ,000 of musical instruments and equipment for potential jailhouse rockers to use. The band hopes to persuade other young groups to play gigs at the prison and help teach the kids to play.

''I've seen a lot of prison theater, and it really is intense art. If there is some real talent there, we'll record it and out it out, or at least find lyrics and stuff. It should have a rehabilitative effect on the kids as well.''

The Police have been accused more than once of ''stealing'' from reggae. Sting, the group's bassist-singer says, ''Music has stayed the same for so many years because it has been formula-ized and categorised. Boston sounds the same as Yes, and Yes are the same as Foreigner. They aren't taking in any new things. It just amazes me that people are surprised that we use reggae.''

''We're playing progressive music,'' said Summers. ''It's not just one thing. If you want to call it rock and roll - we think of Bob Seger and the like who have cheapened and trashed rock and roll to the point where we don't want anything to do with it. It's another world to us. As far from the Police as Mozart is. In fact we're probably closer to Mozart.''

(c) The Chicago Tribune by Sylvie Simmons