The latest issue of Rolling Stone had a cover feature about the “State of Rock: 40 Reasons to Get Excited About Music” (a cover which featured terrible pop-rap group The Black Eyed Peas, so the list was slightly less than 40). As debatable as the list might be, one item on the list was actually somewhat intriguing – up and coming band I Blame Coco, led by Coco Sumner, daughter of the irrepressible Sting.
Coco is not the first Sting spawn with musical tendencies – his oldest son, Joe, fronts the band Fiction Plane (who in fact opened for The Police during their reunion tour) – but she does remind us, in a way, of what a musician Sting once was, not only as part of The Police but even on his own.
That may read as sacrilege. How can one enjoy The Police – one of the best rock/New Wave bands of the past 40 years – as well as Sting, whose solo output is often tinged by ridiculous non-pop genres (jazz, sea shantys, worldbeat, Victorian-era carols)? The answer is simple: for much of his solo career (up to 1994, we’ll say, and with Brand New Day being a brief return to form in 2000), Sting wrote great songs that were poppy and complex. Even the early stuff isn’t too much of a diversion from those latter-day Police cuts.
The one album of his that hits the hardest would be his first, 1985’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Recorded in The Police’s old haunt, AIR Studios in Montserrat, Sting utilized a fantastic backing ensemble that included saxophonist Branford Marsalis (Wynton’s brother, and one of the most fluid musical partners Sting ever had), keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, future Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Omar Hakim (who played drums on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”). The songs, whether they were pop singles (“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” “Fortress Around Your Heart”) or worldly meditations (“Russians,” “We Work the Black Seam”), were all solid numbers that it’s not hard to come back to over and over again.
Twenty-five years later, it would be nice for Sting to break away from the whole not-looking-back trend and reissue this record with a few extra tracks that Sting collectors (whoever they are) have been waiting patiently for. If you love us, A&M, set us free with a set like this!Sting – The Dream of the Blue Turtles (originally released as A&M DREAM 1 (U.K.)/A&M SP-3750 (U.S.), 1985)
- If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
- Love is the Seventh Wave
- Children’s Crusade
- Shadows in the Rain
- We Work the Black Seam
- Consider Me Gone
- The Dream of the Blue Turtles
- Moon Over Bourbon Street
- Fortress Around Your Heart
- If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Jellybean Remix) (12″ A-side – A&M AMY 258, 1985)
- Another Day (B-side to “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” – A&M AM 258, 1985)
- Gabriel’s Message (B-side to “Russians” – A&M AM 292, 1985. Later released on A Very Special Christmas – A&M SP-3911, 1987)
- The Ballad of Mack the Knife (B-side to “Moon Over Bourbon Street” – A&M AM 350, 1986)
- If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Torch Song Mix) (12″ B-side – A&M AMY 258, 1985)
- Love is the Seventh Wave (New Mix) (12″ A-side – A&M AMY 272, 1985)