A surprise archival release from Sting dropped this weekend: a digital expanded edition of his third solo album, The Soul Cages, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.
A deeply-felt song cycle, The Soul Cages found Sting simultaneously looking backward and forward. In the studio, he reunited with producer Hugh Padgham, who'd overseen The Police's Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity; he also diversified his backing band, picking up session guitarist Dominic Miller - his musical right hand ever since. (Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and keyboardist Kenny Kirkland return from Sting's original solo band; other musicians include drummer Manu Katche and keyboardist David Sancious.)
Lyrically, the album takes Sting in a different territory than ever before: deep into his past growing up in the English shipbuilding town of Wallsend. Drawing from the death of his father, who'd passed on only a year after his mother, The Soul Cages addressed grief, love and humanity in more personal (but typically literary) terms than his prior works.
For his trouble, he earned his first solo Grammy Award (for the title track in the category of Best Rock Song), and the philosophical "All This Time" became his highest-charting single credited solely to him, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. ("All for Love," a soundtrack ballad for The Three Musketeers with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart, remains his only Stateside solo chart-topper.) Other favorites include the pulsing "Mad About You" and the introspective "Why Should I Cry for You"; in 2018, when putting together the musical The Last Ship for a troubled Broadway run, Sting augmented the new material with the album's opening tracks, "Island of Souls" and "All This Time."
The expanded The Soul Cages includes nine bonus tracks, many of which have never been available digitally. There's foreign-language versions ("Mad About You" in Italian, "Why Should I Cry for You" in Spanish), single edits, rare remixes of "Mad About You," B-side curiosities like the instrumental "I Miss You Kate" and obscurity "Oo La La Hugh," live covers of Squeeze's "Tempted" and Jacques Brel's "Ne me quitte pas" from his 1988 tour, and even a cover of Elton John's "Come Down in Time" for a tribute album to the artist released later in 1991.
While it's not complete - a drum-heavy single mix of "Mad About You" and additional live B-sides were issued on various singles - Sting's normally catalogue-averse discography (remember the 25 Years box set?) now features a genuine expanded album with archival material.
Stream or download The Soul Cages at the links below.
The Soul Cages: Expanded Edition (A&M/UMe, 2021)
- Island of Souls
- All This Time
- Mad About You
- Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
- Why Should I Cry for You
- Saint Agnes and The Burning Train
- The Wild Wild Sea
- The Soul Cages
- When the Angels Fall
- I Miss You Kate
- Come Down in Time
- Tempted (Live)
- Ne Me Quitte Pas (Live)
- Oo La La Hugh
- Mad About You (Original Remix)
- Mad About You (Remix Edit)
- Mad About You (12" Remix)
- Mad About You (Italian Version)
- Why Should I Cry for You (Spanish Version)
- Why Should I Cry for You (Extended Mix)
- The Soul Cages (Edit)
- All This Time (Edit)
Tracks 1-9 released as A&M 396 405-2 (U.K.)/750 216 405-2 (U.S.), 1991
Tracks 10 and 22 from "All This Time" U.K. CD single - A&M AMCD 713, 1991
Track 11 from Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin - Mercury 845 749-2, 1991
Track 12 from "Mad About You" U.K. CD single - A&M AMCD 721, 1991
Track 13 from "Why Should I Cry for You" U.K. CD single - A&M AMCD 796, 1991
Tracks 14 and 21 from "The Soul Cages" U.K. CD single - A&M AMCD 759, 1991
Tracks 15-17 from "Mad About You" U.S. promo CD single - A&M 750 217 249-2, 1991
Track 18 from "Mad About You" Italian 12" promo - A&M 500 171-0, 1991
Track 19 from "Why Should I Cry for You" Japanese CD single - A&M PCCY-10236, 1991
Track 20 from "Why Should I Cry for You" U.S. CD single - A&M 750 212 364-2, 1991