The Dream of the Blue Turtles
Sting was still a member of The Police when he recorded his first solo album, 1985’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles. He leaves the bass to Darryl Jones and plays guitar here, while the band includes jazz veterans like Branford Marsalis and Omar Hakim. Apart from the brief jazz instrumental of the title track, it’s largely song-based and accessible; if anything, it feels like Sting’s trying too hard for crossover hits with songs like ‘Love is the Seventh Wave’ and ‘If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free’, which ultimately feel hollow for me.
There is one pop masterpiece here though; closer ‘Fortress Around Your Heart’ balances taut verses with a glorious, open chorus, and it’s one of the few songs from Sting’s solo career that stands up to the best singles from The Police. Elsewhere, the moody, jazzy ‘Moon Over Bourbon Street’ is a highlight, as are the moody social conscious pieces like ‘Children’s Crusade’ and ‘Russians’. There’s an interesting re-working of ‘Shadows in the Rain’ from Zenyatta Mondatta.
The Dream of the Blue Turtles is a respectable start to Sting’s solo career, but there’s a disconnect between the singles and the moodier album tracks, although ‘Fortress Around Your Heart’ bridges the divide neatly.