Sting – The Soul Cages (1991)

FrontCover1Emboldened 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. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Skip Burney (percussion)
Ray Cooper (percussion)
Munyungo Jackson (percussion)
Manu Katché (drums)
Kenny Kirkland (keyboards)
Branford Marsalis (saxophone)
Dominic Miller (guitar)
Paola Paparelle (oboe)
David Sancious (keyboards)
Sting (vocals, bass, mandolin, synclavier)
Bill Summers (percussion)
Kathryn Tickell (northumbrian smallpipe)
Tony Vacca (percussion)
Vinx (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Island Of Souls 6.41
02. All This Time 4.54
03. Mad About You 3.53
04. Jeremiah Blues (Part 1) 4.54
05. Why Should I Cry For Yoi 4.46
06. Saint Agnes And The Burning Train 2.43
07. The Wild Wild Sea 6.41
08. The Soul Cages 5.51
09. When The Angels Fall 7.48

All songs written by Sting

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Sting – …Nothing Like The Sun (1987)

FrontCover1 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.

Booklet01ASting’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. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

And his version of “Little Wing” is one of the best versions of this Jimi Hendrix song ever recorded !

Booklet03APersonnel:
Mino Cinelu (percussion, vocoder)
Manu Katché (drums)
Kenny Kirkland (keyboards)
Branford Marsalis (saxophone)
Sting (vocals, bass, guitar on 04. + 06.)
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Rubén Blades (spoken Spanish on 05.)
Hiram Bullock (guitar on 11.)
Eric Clapton (guitar on 05.)
Kenwood Dennard (drums on 11.)
Mark Egan (bass on 11.)
Fareed Haque (guitar on 05.)
Ken Helman (piano on 12.)
Mark Knopfler (guitar on 05.)
Andy Newmark (additional drums)
Andy Summers (guitar on 01. + 02.)
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Gil Evans & His Orchestra (on 11.)
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background vocals:
Renée Geyer – Dollette McDonald – Janice Pendarvis – Vesta Williams

Booklet07ATracklist:
01.The Lazarus Heart (Sting) 4,34
02. Be Still My Beating Heart (Sting) 5.32
03. Englishman In New York (Sting) 4.25
04. History Will Teach Us Nothing (Sting) 4.58
05. They Dance Alone (Sting) 7.16
06. Fragile (Sting) 3.54
07. We’ll Be Together (Sting) 4.52
08. Straight To My Heart (Sting) 3.55
09. Rock Steady (Sting) 4.27
10. Sister Moon (Sting) 3.46
11. Little Wing (Hendrix) 5.04
12. The Secret Marriage (Eisler/Sting) 2.03

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