Sting Album Reviews

Conventional wisdom is that Gordon Sumner surrendered his credibility when he left The Police, letting his pretentiousness overcome him as he dabbled in jazz and saved the rain-forests. As a singles’ artist he couldn’t match the brilliant individual songs like ‘Message In A Bottle’ he wrote for The Police. But while The Police’s albums often felt padded out with filler, the longer gaps between Sting’s solo albums gave him the chance to write more satisfying records.

Even though I like him, there’s a limit to my Sting tolerance; I get off the bus before 1999’s Brand New Day, of which the most redeeming feature is Stevie Wonder’s harmonica on the title track. Additionally, while he’s a thoughtful, conscientious songwriter, he’s also supreme at awkward couplets like “In Europe and America/There’s a growing feeling of hysteria” or “We’d only stopped for a few burritos/But they told us of the trouble with los banditos.”

Sting was born Gordon Sumner, and gained his nickname from a striped jersey he wore as a school teacher. Conflict with drummer Stewart Copeland was one of the reasons for the breakup of The Police after 1983’s Synchronicity, and in 1985 he recorded The Dream of the Blue Turtles. While jazz had always been a part of the lexicon of The Police, it was more pronounced in his solo career, while he explored world music on 1987’s Nothing Like The Sun.  1993’s Ten Summoner’s Tales hit the mainstream with ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘It’s Probably Me’, and ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’.

I imagine that Sting’s career in the 21st century confirms all the accusations of pretentiousness that his detractors throw at him, although I’m too scared to listen to albums like Symphonicities and Sacred Love to find out. But despite some inherent ridiculousness, it’s difficult to deny that Sting is one of the most talented pop musicians of his era. He can sing, play, and write songs, but perhaps his unique persona, an intellectual with no self-filter, just doesn’t make for a convincing pop star.

Ten Favourite Sting Songs

They Dance Alone
Fortress Around Your Heart
If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
Why Should I Cry For You
The Wild, Wild Sea
Jeremiah Blues, pt. 2
Englishman in New York
I Hung My Head
When We Dance
Fields of Gold