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Sting

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Sting - The Dream Of The Blue Turtles [A&M SP-3750] (1985)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP3750
Ratings: C=NM-; LP=NM-

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Artist:

Sting

Title:

The Dream Of The Blue Turtles

Released: 1985
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-3750
Genre: Pop / Jazz / Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
02 Love Is The Seventh Wave
03 Russians
04 Children's Crusade
05 Shadows In The Rain
06 We Work The Black Seam
07 Consider Me Gone
08 The Dream Of The Blue Turtles
09 Moon Over Bourbon Street
10 Fortress Around Your Heart
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Album Review

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

The Police never really broke up, they just stopped working together -- largely because they just couldn't stand playing together anymore and partially because Sting was itching to establish himself as a serious musician/songwriter on his own terms. Anxious to shed the mantle of pop star, he camped out at Eddy Grant's studio, picked up the guitar, and raided Wynton Marsalis' band for his new combo -- thereby instantly consigning his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, to the critical shorthand of Sting's jazz record. Which is partially true (that's probably the best name for the meandering instrumental title track), but that gives the impression that this is really risky music, when he did, after all, rely on musicians who, at that stage, were revivalists just developing their own style, and then had them jam on mock-jazz grooves -- or, in the case of Branford Marsalis, layer soprano sax lines on top of pop songs. This, however, is just the beginning of the pretensions layered throughout The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Only twice does he delve into straightforward love songs -- the lovely measured "Consider Me Gone" and the mournful closer, "Fortress Around Your Heart" -- preferring to consider love in the abstract ("If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," one of his greatest solo singles, and the childish, faux-reggae singalong "Love Is the Seventh Wave"), write about children in war and in coal mines, revive a Police tune about heroin, ponder whether "Russians love their children too," and wander the streets of New Orleans as the vampire Lestat. This is a serious-minded album, but it's undercut by its very approach -- the glossy fusion that coats the entire album, the occasional grabs at worldbeat, and studious lyrics seem less pretentious largely because they're overshadowed by such bewilderingly showy moves as adapting Prokofiev for "Russians" and calling upon Anne Rice for inspiration. And that's the problem with the record: with every measure, every verse, Sting cries out for the respect of a composer, not a pop star, and it gets to be a little overwhelming when taken as a whole. As a handful of individual cuts -- "Fortress," "Consider Me Gone," "If You Love Somebody," "Children's Crusade" -- he proves that he's subtler and craftier than his peers, but only when he reins in his desire to show the class how much he's learned.


Sting - ...Nothing Like The Sun [A&M SP 6402] (1987)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP6402
Ratings: C=NM- LP=NM-

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Artist:

Sting

Title:

...Nothing Like The Sun

Released: 1987
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP 6402
Genre: Rock, Pop, Jazz
T R A C K L I S T:
01 The Lazarus Heart
02 Be Still My Beating Heart
03 Englishman In New York
04 History Will Teach Us Nothing
05 They Dance Alone (Gueca Solo)
06 Fragile
07 We'll Be Together
08 Straight To My Heart
09 Rock Steady
10 Sister Moon
11 Little Wing
12 The Secret Marriage
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Album Review

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

If Dream of the Blue Turtles was an unabashedly pretentious affair, it looks positively lighthearted in comparison to Sting's sophomore effort, Nothing Like the Sun, one of the most doggedly serious pop albums ever recorded. This is an album where the only up-tempo track, the only trifle -- the cheerfully stiff white-funk "We'll Be Together" -- was added at the insistence of the label because they believed there wasn't a cut on the record that could be pulled as a single, one that would break down the doors to mainstream radio. And they were right, since everything else here is too measured, calm, and deliberately subtle to be immediate (including the intentional throwaway, "Rock Steady"). So, why is it a better album than its predecessor? Because Sting doesn't seem to be trying so hard. It flows naturally, largely because this isn't trying to explicitly be a jazz-rock record (thank the presence of a new rhythm section of Sting and drummer Manu Katche for that) and because the melodies are insinuating, slowly working their way into memory, while the entire record plays like a mood piece -- playing equally well as background music or as intensive, serious listening. Sting's words can still grate -- the stifling pompousness of "History Will Teach Us Nothing" the clearest example, yet calls of "Hey Mr. Pinochet" also strike an uneasy chord -- but his lyricism shines on "The Lazarus Heart," "Be Still My Beating Heart," "They Dance Alone," and "Fragile," a quartet of his very finest songs. If Nothing Like the Sun runs a little too long, with only his Gil Evans-assisted cover of "Little Wing" standing out in the final quarter, it still maintains its tone until the end and, since it's buoyed by those previously mentioned stunners, it's one of his better albums.


Sting - The Soul Cages [A&M Records 396 405-1] (21 January 1991)

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ITEM# SR-AM3964051
Ratings: C=M-; LP=M-

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Artist:

Sting

Title:

The Soul Cages

Originally Released: 21 January 1991
This Reissue: 30 Sep 2016
Label: A&M Records
Catalog: 396 405-1
Genre: Jazz, Rock, Pop
Note: Seal was broken to do this transfer - only played once


T R A C K L I S T:
01 Island Of Souls
02 All This Time
03 Mad About You
04 Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
05 Why Should I Cry For You
06 Saint Agnes And The Burning Train
07 The Wild Wild Sea
08 The Soul Cages
09 When The Angels Fall
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Album Review

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

Emboldened by the enthusiastic response to the muted Nothing Like the Sun and reeling from the loss of his parents, Sting constructed The Soul Cages as a hushed mediation on mortality, loss, grief, and father/son relationships (the album is dedicated, in part, to his father; its predecessor was dedicated to his mother). Using the same basic band as Nothing Like the Sun, the album has the same supple, luxurious tone, stretching out leisurely over nine tracks, almost all of them layered mid-tempo tunes (the exception being grinding guitars of the title track). Within this setting, Sting hits a few remarkable peaks, such as the elegant waltz ''Mad About You'' and ''All This Time,'' a deceptively skipping pop tune that hides a moving tribute to his father. If the entirety of The Soul Cages was as nimbly melodic and urgently emotional as these two cuts, it would have been a quiet masterpiece. Instead, it turns inward -- not just lyrically, but musically -- and plays as a diary entry, perhaps interesting to those willing to spend hours immersing themselves within Sting's loss, finding parallels within their own life. This may be too much effort for anyone outside of the devoted, since apart from those two singles (and perhaps ''Why Should I Cry for You''), there are few entry points into The Soul Cages -- and, once you get in there, it only rewards if your emotional state mirrors Sting's.

Sting's Biography

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

After disbanding the Police at the peak of their popularity in 1984, Sting quickly established himself as a viable solo artist, one obsessed with expanding the boundaries of pop music. Sting incorporated heavy elements of jazz, classical, and worldbeat into his music, writing lyrics that were literate and self-consciously meaningful, and he was never afraid to emphasize this fact in the press. For such unabashed ambition, he was equally loved and reviled, with supporters believing that he was at the forefront of literate, intelligent rock and his critics finding his entire body of work pompous. Either way, Sting remained one of pop's biggest superstars for the first ten years of his solo career, before his record sales began to slip.

Before the Police were officially disbanded, Sting began work on his first solo album late in 1984, rounding up a group of jazz musicians as a supporting band. Moving from bass to guitar, he recorded his solo debut, 1985's The Dream of the Blue Turtles, with Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, and Omar Hakim. The move wasn't entirely unexpected since Sting had played with jazz and progressive rock bands in his youth, but the result was considerably more mature and diverse than any Police record. The album became a hit, with "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," "Love Is the Seventh Wave," and "Fortress Around Your Heart" reaching the American Top Ten. Sting brought the band out on an extensive tour and filmed the proceedings for a 1986 documentary called Bring on the Night, which appeared alongside a live double album of the same name. That year, Sting participated in a half-hearted Police reunion that resulted in only one new song, a re-recorded version of "Don't Stand So Close to Me."

Following the aborted Police reunion, Sting began working on the ambitious Nothing Like the Sun, which was dedicated to his recently deceased mother. Proceeding from a jazz foundation, and again collaborating with Marsalis, Sting worked with a number of different musicians on the album, including Gil Evans and former Police guitarist Andy Summers. The album received generally positive reviews upon its release in late 1987, and it generated hit singles with "We'll Be Together" and "They Dance Alone." Following its release, Sting began actively campaigning for Amnesty International and environmentalism, establishing the Rainforest Foundation, which was designed to raise awareness about preserving the Brazilian rainforest. An abridged Spanish version of Nothing Like the Sun, Nada Como el Sol, was released in 1988.

Sting took several years to deliver the follow-up to Nothing Like the Sun, during which time he appeared in a failed Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera in 1989. His father also died, which inspired 1991's The Soul Cages, a dense, dark, and complex album. Although the album peaked at number two and spawned the Top Ten hit "All This Time," the record was less successful than its predecessor. Two years later, he delivered Ten Summoner's Tales, a light, pop-oriented record that became a hit on the strength of two Top 20 singles, "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" and "Fields of Gold." At the end of 1993, "All for Love," a song he recorded with Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams for The Three Musketeers, became a number one hit. The single confirmed that Sting's audience had shifted from new wave/college rock fans to adult contemporary, and the 1994 compilation Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting played to that new fan base.

Three years after Ten Summoner's Tales, Sting released Mercury Falling in the spring of 1996. Although the album debuted highly, it quickly fell down the charts, stalling at platinum sales and failing to generate a hit single. Although the album failed, Sting remained a popular concert attraction, a feat that confirmed his immense popularity regardless of his chart status. Released in 1999, Brand New Day turned his commercial fortunes around in a big way, though, eventually going triple-platinum and earning two Grammy Awards. Issued in 2003, Sacred Love also did well, and Sting spent several years with the reunited Police before returning to his solo game for 2009's If on a Winter's Night.... One year later, he hit the road alongside the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, who added their own symphonic arrangements to his material. Symphonicities, a companion CD, and Live in Berlin, released in conjunction with the world tour, arrived that same year.

After several years of work, Sting completed his musical The Last Ship in 2013. Initially, he introduced the piece as a solo album released in September of 2013, but the musical -- set in a struggling shipyard in the 1980s -- was scheduled to make its Broadway debut in 2014.
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