on June 29, 2004
When The Police disbanded, Sting came out with a shocker of an album. "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" is an A+ single, albeit without Sting's deepest lyrics. Unfortunately, some of the other tracks are sometimes overlooked. The follow-up single and closing song on this album, "Fortress Around Your Heart" may be one of the best songs about the dissolution of a relationship ever written, essentially comparing it to a war. "Children's Crusade" is a comparison between the horrors that children faced at that time, and what they faced in 1984 (This album is 20 years old). "Russians" can also seem dated unless you respect the time frame in which this album was released. Many of the tracks dabble into a jazzy-type of feel (i.e. "Shadows in the Rain"--bless the late Kenny Kirkland's sparkling keyboard, "Moon Over Bourbon Street", and the title track. ...and it all works brilliantly! The only thing that was wrong concerning this album was the fact that it lost out for the "Album of the Year" Grammy award to the good, but not great "No Jacket Required" by Phil Collins. This album will always remain a classic.
on February 16, 2004
First, I'm a big Sting fan. Bigger Police fan. From way back, as they say.
When this album arrived, you should take it as a huge compliment that I didn't hate him for breaking up my favorite band. I liked it. And as I have grown up, I have also grown to love it.
"If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free" was the album's first single, and as singles go, it's fine. The tune lets the listener know that Sting would be incorporating his beloved jazz into the modern pop form. He turned a greeting card slogan into a Top Ten single without embarrassing himself.
"Love Is The Seventh Wave" is a joyous singalong, with a lilting reggae beat. Of note, here he starts echoing old songs in his fadeouts, usually one per album. Listen for the lyrical snips from "Every Breath You Take" and smile.
Sting has always been vocal about his political positions, routinely getting lambasted by the press and public. With "Russians", his point is simple, and hardly arguable...being that he hopes the Russians love their children too. Yes it's overdone and hamfisted, but here's a guy saying exactly what he thinks in a very clear manner, getting the "message to the masses".
There are three mini-movies on the album. 'Children's Crusade" somehow blends images from WW1 with modern day drug abuse scenarios, and it works. This is also significant for being an early example of the intricate tempo changes Sting for which he has a penchant.
"We Work The Black Seam" empathizes with the plight of miners, and the percussive, xylophone-like motif mimics the repetitive mechanical motion of marching, hammering, bearing heavy loads of coal...it's vivid.
"Moon Over Bourbon Street", inspired, as Sting reveals in his liner notes, from "Interview With A Vampire" is a real treat. It's a tale well told, to perfect musical accompaniment. Sting becomes the vampire, albeit one who plays a stand-up bass.
"Consider Me Gone" is a slight jazzy meander, a piffle; "The Dream of The Blue Turtles" a brief comic instrumental.
With "Shadows In The Rain", he revamps a song off "Zenyatta Mondatta", to it's definite benefit. However, that doesn't say much, because it was a weak drone of a tune to begin with.
The album closes with a soaring pop song, "Fortress Around Your Heart", containing the trademark airy choruses, crisp guitar and dense instrumentation of a great "Synchronicity" outtake. Maybe he saved this one for himself.
There is much to like here. Overall, it's not THAT different from the last Police record, but it clearly points the way to Sting's further musical direction.
on January 12, 2004
I actually missed Sting's debut album and didn't become aware of it until I had purchased the follow-up, Nothing Like the Sun, and viewed the documentary filmed in Paris, Bring On the Night. What I found was a style of music along the lines of fusion with elements of both jazz and rock. A large portion of the jazz element comes from the very capable hands of Branford Marsalis, saxaphone-playing brother of Wynton, and Omar Hakim, former drummer of Weather Report, who lent their talents to both of Sting's first two albums. The mix of creative and performance abilities is very strong, although listening to Nothing Like the Sun first tainted things for me as I could tell that this was Sting's first attempt at a solo career. Don't get me wrong, this is a very successful solo debut and the fact that the next album was so much better demonstrates the learning curve Sting had in his own abilities as well as this group of musicians' ability to work together and create music. Many, many great songs on this CD, one I find myself listening to over and over without growing tired of hearing it.
on December 30, 2003
Listening to Dream of the Blue Turtles and Sacred Love is a bewildering experience. It makes you ask: what happened? How come it is that other artists age exceptionaly well whereas Sting peaked early?
The most impressive thing about this CD is that it was done with no help from the Police. They were on the verge of breakup at this time, yet no one thought that Sting could pull off a solo album without his companions. In fact, most people pronounced it commercial suicide. But guess who had the last laugh?
This CD has reggae, rock, jazzy ballads, pop, and lots of other elements that you can't hate. Nearly every song can stand on its own, which you can't really say about the latest Sting releases. Work the Black Seam, Children's Crusade, Fortress Around Your Heart, and Moon Over Bourbon Street are just a few.
Nothing Like The Sun and the Soul Cages followed suit, and If I Ever Loose My Faith In You was the last great song that Sting gave us. If you like pop, you will love Dream of the Blue Turtles.
on September 20, 2003
When Sting would set out on his own after leaving the Police who were at the top of their game both musically and commercially, I'm sure their were doubters. Especially when they heard that Sting would be backed by a group of Jazz musicians. The end result would be an excellent fusion of Rock and Jazz, the deep thought provoking lyrics and metaphors we would come to expect from Sting, and probably in my opinion - the best album released in 1985.
On the first song, Sting provides a "sequel" or antedote to "Every Breath You Take". Sting has used EBYT as a foundation for much of his future work, but this song stands completely on its own. It's a great opening song to an album because the tone of the Rock and Jazz fusion is set immediately. It also captures some great lyrics and metaphors. This verse hits the mark when he says:
"If its a mirror you want, just look into my eyes
Or a Whipping Boy - not someone to despise
Or a Prisoner in the Dark
Tied up in Chains that you can't see".
The only thing this song is guilty of is overplaying on the radio, but its an absolute gem to listen to.
"Love is the Seventh Wave" also uses part of EBYT foundation at the end when Sting references of "Every Breath You Take". This is a much lighter song, but also filled with lots of stuff to look at lyrically. First Sting references things beautiful in the world such as Oceans and Trees, then later the tone gets a little more serious with references of bloodshed, weopons, armies, missiles, and greed. But he points out that Love is still the a power in itself by saying "Love is the 7th Wave". This song was released as a single but really never got the airplay it so richly deserved.
"Russians" is a pure political song - less of a Jazz theme here than the first 2. It was written at the end of the cold war. Frankie Goes to Hollywood had come out with a Video around this time that had Reagan and Cherenko in a death match, so this was not such a radical theme, but Sting does a marvelous job at asking the question "If the Russians Love Their Children too?"
The best song and most underrated song of the album is the song about World War I called "Children's Crusade". This song has more of a historical tone than a political tone. The Jazz-Rock fusion is in peak form on this song - there is an outstanding interlude about halfway through the song, then Sting in an emotionally charged 2 part harmony vocal sings "The Children of England will never be slaves..." that really does an excellent job. The song was a victim of the politics of Top 40 radio because it deserved airplay back in 1985.
It's rare that a remake of a song eclipses the original. It's also rare than an artist remakes his own song, but Sting takes the Police song "Shadows in the Rain" to a new level. Great Jazz implementation, quicker tempo, and just a fun song to listen to.
"We Work the Black Seam" has more political messages as undertones to such items like nuclear waste and the plight of the English Coal Miners. This is the longest track of the album (only 5:42), but well worth hearing. It has a lighter jazz feel to it as well. This is one of these songs that will grow on you the more you hear it.
"Consider Me Gone" is also a slow tempo song, but its the kind of song you might hear from a Jazz Singer in a Jazz club. It's the first of 3 of the most Jazz-like tracks on the album. It's not something you'd expect on a album from a Rock star like Sting, but the song holds it own and if you like the Jazz theme of the album, you'll love this one.
"The Dream of the Blue Turtles" title track is an instrumental - it is the shortest song - only 1:17 but its a nice jam of the band. This song has the most pure Jazz of any of the tracks on the album. It's a lot of fun to listen - and for some reason I do think of Blue Turtles marching along hearing it.
"Moon Over Bourbon Street" is probably the weakest of the 10 tracks, but on this album it still would blow away other songs on most other albums. It has the Jazz club theme to it. I almost believe that Sting was actually walking the streets of New Orleans writing and creating this song.
The final track, "Fortress Around Your Heart" has less of a Jazz feel than many of the other tracks, but this song is loaded with Sting metaphors. The title itself is a metaphor. Line after line has metaphors such as "Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill this chasm" "I had to stop in my tracks of fear of walking on the minds I laid". This song got a lot of airplay in the Fall of 1985, but I almost never got tired of it.
All in all, this album is a classic. I don't think Sting has put a complete album to this level again (although he has come close and has done some great work afterwords). Whether you are a Police fan, Sting fan, or just someone curious about this album, it's worth getting.
on August 9, 2003
This is one of the best stings album ever...after he left the Police nobody thought that he will return to more jazz/soul oriented music and that he will make a modern pop masterpiece.
All songs are great - from the classic hits like dark and Gloomy "Russians",cheerfull and funky "If you love somebody set them free" to melancholic jazzy piece "Moon over bourboun street" (My all time favourite).The production and sound is just great...sound is clear and selective.Stings voice is still sounding fresh...We have many different songs here - while "Russians" and "Moon over bourbon street" are widely inspirated by classical music, "Love is 7venth wave" is a nice reaggee tune,"Consider me gone" and "Shjadows in the rain" are soul/rock and "Fortress around your heart" is a stylish pop-rock.
almost no one mentions "We work the black seam" - mysterious and great tune about dangers of trying to tame nature(ecological
warning)...the vibraphone part makes it asounding a bit dark and intriguing...a marvelous piece of music...just the whole album!!!!
on June 2, 2003
Face it, The Police's Synchronicity was a great album but simultaneously proved that they had reached a musical cul-de-sac. Sting's masterpiece debut solo album was evidence that he had saved his cleverest writing for himself, and it exceeds anything he did with the Police.
The upbeat pop of "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" originally described the danger in loving someone beyond sanity: "You can't control an independent heart" However, when Sting played this at the Amnesty International concerts, it took on a whole new meaning.
The idyllic bouncy calypso "Love Is The Seventh Wave" shows Sting's religious/philosophical side. He describes love as an ever-pervading wave that permeates into the material world: "Feel ir rising in the cities, feel it sweeping over land, over borders, over frontiers." His mention of the "still point" in "still point of destruction" may be a reference to what Buddha focused on when resisting tempatation.
It was only 1985, but the Cold War fears was still prevalent as evidenced in the gloomy but beautiful "Russians," my favourite song here. Sting equally criticizes both Soviets and Americans for fostering the Cold War. The bomb is referred to as "Oppenheimer's deadly toy." This song says so much that's true, but perhaps I can sum up with the refrain: "We share the same biology/regardless of ideology/What might save us me and you/is that the Russians love their children too." The melody is taken from "Romance" in Sergei Prokoviev's Lieutenant Kije Suite.
The grim "Children's Crusade" thematically ties in the flower of British youth slaughtered in WWI, "strewn on the fields of Belgium and France" with opium addicts in 1984 Soho thus: "The children of England would never be slaves/They're trapped on the wire and dying in waves/The flower of England face down in the mud/And stained in the blood of a whole generation." Love Branford's wailing sax solo!
A more jazzed up version of the Police's "Shadows In The Rain" follows, and I like this one better than the reggaeish one on Zenyatta Mondatta.
"We Work The Black Seam" tells the toil coal miners had to go through and the dangers of replacing fossil fuels with nuclear power: "One day in a nuclear age, they may understand our rage/They build machines that they can't control/and bury the waste in a great big hole."
"Consider Me Gone" details moral deterioration. Love these lines: "There were cupboards of patience/there were shelfloads of care/But whoever came calling found nobody there."
The playful instrumental title track is followed by the slow nighclub jazz "Moon Over Bourbon Street." It's about a vampire, as it was inspired by Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire. There's a classical bridge, with a lovely clarinet.
"Fortress Around Your Heart" about a quarreling couple, is a masterfully spun analogy of a woman's heart to a city besieged by heavy guns. However, the man's mind is also another battleground. The man realizes that reconciliation is the key: "And if I have built this fortress around your heart/encircled you in trenches and barbed wire/Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm/And let me set the battlements on fire."
What also makes this a winning album are the musicians present: Branford Marsalis on sax, Omar Hakim on drums, Darryl Jones on bass, Kenny Kirland on keyboards, and the two Afro-Britons, Dolette McDonald and Janet Pendarvis on backing vocals. Maybe it's because I saw them in the Bring On The Night movie and Sting's "If You Love Somebody" video. One of the greatest albums of the 1980's and that of Sting himself.
on May 22, 2003
With the release of "Dream of the Blue Turtles" in 1985, Sting embarked upon a new musical direction. This was a definite break with his style with The Police, but Sting has a way of recycling his music. In one way he was getting back to his jazz roots, but in another way he was heading toward the mainstream adult contemporary genre that he occupies today.
Sting also hired a crack band of young jazz pros, including Omar Hakim on drums, Darryl Jones on bass, Kenny Kirkland on keys and Branford Marsalis on saxophone. Sting switched from bass to guitar, but did perform the very cool double bass line on "Moon Over Bourbon Street."
"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" is a Motown-style song with lyrics that transcend the usual love song, focusing more on the freedom in the relationship.
"Love is the Seventh Wave" has a world music feel and is a plea for everyone to get along.
"Russians" finds Sting getting a bit preachy, but this Cold War era tune has a haunting (borrowed) classical bent and ticking clock and well-intentioned message.
"Children's Crusade" is a sad ballad about the loss of generations of young men in WWI, first to the war and then to the addiction to morphine. Fast forward to 1984 and the image resonates as another generation is lost to heroin.
"Shadows in the Rain" is a revised Police song, with the classic intro of someone shouting 'wait, what key is it in!' and some outstanding drums. This is a great rock/jazz combination.
"We Work the Black Seam" is a complex tune the invokes the difficult life of coal miners, but also digs into the past and the future of energy and what it means to the focal character.
"Consider Me Gone" uses home metaphors about a relationship gone south, backed by a cool swing beat.
"The Dream of the Blue Turtles" is a the most 'jazzy' piece on the disk, a keyboard led instrumental where the musicians get to break loose and have some fun.
"Moon Over Bourbon Street" is Sting's ode to Anne Rice's 'Interview With the Vampire' and features some very cool lyrics like 'I've the face of a sinner but the hands of a priest.' Very cool double bassline and haunting sax work by Marsalis.
"Fortress Around Your Heart" paints another complex picture of relationships, this time using kind of a mainland WWII metaphor as the basis for the issues between this couple.
Not a weak song in the bunch, and it actually gets string in the second half. A definite must have for your collection, and excellent introduction to Sting's solo work.
on September 25, 2002
When Sting announced that he was leaving The Police, he meant it. Sting's first solo album, "The Dream of the Blue Turtles" bares little to no resemblance to any of his earlier work with The Police. Abandoning the punk-pop formula that proved so successful in the past, Sting returns to his jazz roots with this amazing collection of songs.
For the casual Sting fan, this album might be hard to stomach. While "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free", and "Fortress Around Your Heart", are considered to be two of his "hit" songs, the rest of the album contains a mixture of laid-back, jazz-heavy songs that showcase Sting's range of musical abilities.
"Russians" is one of the most political songs that Sting has ever written. Perhaps it's a little dated, now that the Cold War is some 15 years behind us, but the lyrics remain haunting. In a trend that continues through most of Sting's solo albums, he revisits The Police with a cover of his own "Shadows in the Rain" - in my opinion, a far superior version than the original. My favorite song on the album is "Moon Over Bourbon Street". With its piercing trumpet and raspy vocals, you'd swear that you were standing right next to Sting on Bourbon Street.
From beginning to end, one of Sting's finest albums.
on September 14, 2002
I remember thinking "...the nerve of this guy to break up the Police, one of my favorite bands, to pursue a solo career"... Now I'm glad he did. This album shows no signs of a rookie solo performer but rather an experienced musical talent finally granted the freedom of complete creative control. With the help of some other impressive musicians Sting makes this eclectic mix of rock n' roll, jazz, classical, soul, pop, and even island music into a pleasingly unforgettable CD.
"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free", an up-tempo soul/pop tune, is his first solo hit. "Love Is The Seventh Wave" has an up-beat Caribbean island sound to it. "Russians" is the perfect testament to the cold war during the 1980's with even the music alone giving the feel of a Russian domesday. "Children's Crusade" displays some disciplined musicianship and even a brief section of British royalty. "Shadows In The Rain", a mediocre song on the Police's "Zenyatta Mondatta", is greatly improved upon here in a faster tempo with a jazz/rock feel to it. "We Work The Black Seam" seems to have a mix of African rhythms with some middle eastern nuances in the melodies. "Consider Me Gone" has a driving groove that makes me want to snap my fingers. "The Dream Of The Blue Turtles" is a short almost playful showcase of musicianship that reminds me of some of the more strange offerings by The Police that I find more intriguing than pleasing. "Moon Over Bourbon Street" has a classy jazz melody backed by a fretless bass (thats just my guess). "Fortess Around Your Heart", another pop hit, is a fine example of how Sting combines a number of musical styles to arrange a pleasant song.
This a great introduction to Sting's prosperous solo career.