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Archive for April 21st, 2010

Reissue Theory: Sting, “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”

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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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 21, 2010 at 12:44

Posted in Features, Reissues, Sting

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Not Quite What You Need

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It might be seen as unfair to criticize the catalogue-oriented decisions of INXS. Since losing lead singer Michael Hutchence in 1997, they’ve tried hard to find their way – finding a new singer through a reality show, recording an album with him, prepping a new album with a rotating stable of lead singers and so on. Rhino, the label that controls their back catalogue in the U.S., has released a lot of compilations in the interim as well, plus a few reissues of their late ’80s/early ’90s work (reissues that pale in comparison to some of their overseas counterparts).

Now, Petrol Electric – the reunited partnership between INXS and producer Chris Thomas – has added yet another catalogue entry to the mix, and it’s a head-scratcher, at best. INXS Platinum: Greatest Hits takes 16 studio cuts (all big hits or fan favorites, but missing plenty of pre-Kick material) and pairs it with Seriously Live, another 26 live cuts recorded all over the Hutchence era (naturally, there are no annotations as far as where or when these songs were recorded, so let’s hope they’re not secretly repeats from the sterile Live Baby Live LP).

Fans in the States don’t even have to worry whether or not they should spring for the set, though; this digital-only release is only available in Australia, with a May 4 date for Europe. No plans have been set for an American release, either, so this may be a tempest in a teapot for catalogue enthusiasts.

Are you ready for a new (but still kind of old) sensation? Take a look at the track lists after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 21, 2010 at 11:12