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Archive for July 28th, 2010

REMINDER: The Second Disc Ticket Giveaway Ends Friday

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Just a quick heads-up that The Second Disc’s giveaway for a decidedly non-catalogue (but still pretty notable) live show ends this Friday, July 30.

Thanks to Sony’s RED Distribution, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to see Chris Shiflett and The Dead Peasants. Shiflett, currently the lead guitarist for The Foo Fighters and also known for his work with Me First and The Gimme Gimmes and others, released a roots-oriented LP with new band The Dead Peasants (hear here).

The pair of tickets is for a show at TT the Bear’s Place in Cambridge, Massacusetts, and all you have to do to win e-mail to us at theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com. Entries close on July 30 and the winner will be selected at random.

Continued luck to our entrants!

Written by Mike Duquette

July 28, 2010 at 14:10

Reissue Theory: Sting – “The Art of the Heart”

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This week’s Reissue Theory is something a bit different: a proposal to reissue a record that’s never actually been released!

When people talk about phenomenal live artists, the conversation doesn’t often turn toward Sting’s solo career. The Police were a hell of a live act – they built their career on constant touring all over the world – but Sting’s solo career, however good, always has an air of stuffiness to it. How could the same singer currently on tour with a symphony orchestra ever be considered a loose, must-see live act?

There’s a few pieces of evidence to the contrary; unsurprisingly, they’re from the beginning of the onetime Gordon Sumner’s solo career. It’s all too easy to forget that in 1985, when recording The Dream of the Blue Turtles, Sting had some of the best jazz-fusion sidemen in his camp. Having moved to guitar from his usual bass, he employed then-twentysomething Darryl Jones, from Miles Davis’ backing band, to keep the bass grooves limber. (Jones would of course become the unofficial bassist for The Rolling Stones after Bill Wyman retired in 1993.) Omar Hakim, who’d played in Weather Report and on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance LP, was given the heavy task of banging the skins after Stewart Copeland gave The Police its inimitable rhythm. Kenny Kirkland, the bespectacled, youthful keyboardist, was plucked from Wynton Marsalis’ ensemble to play piano and synths (he in fact held down this duty during The Police’s last shows in 1986).

It’s known that Wynton Marsalis was vocally upset about a white Briton co-opting so many jazz musicians for pop purposes. Part of that anger may have stemmed from the fact that Sting recruited not only Kirkland from the elder statesman’s employ, but his older brother Branford on saxophone. Branford Marsalis became Sting’s secret weapon, capable of drawing out the most smoldering solos on not only Sting’s new songs (“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” “We Work the Black Seam,” “Fortress Around Your Heart”) but some of the many second-tier Police songs Sting brought from hibernation on his new tour.

That tour was rather greatly chronicled on the double-live set Bring On the Night in 1986. While Sting was the main draw for most concertgoers, it’s safe to guess that many of them left with some of the other musicians’ names on their tongues. When most of that core ensemble reconvened for the follow-up, …Nothing Like the Sun (1988) (less Jones and Hakim – Sting went mostly back to bass alongside Mark Egan of Pat Metheny Group fame, while Manu Katche – still a close collaborator with Sting – began his tenure at the drum kit), the result was less commercial but even better – arguably some of Sting’s strongest work lives on this record.

What less people discuss was the tour – a sprawling affair that saw Sting take many diverse side players along with him. In addition to Marsalis, Kirkland, percussionist Mino Cinelu and vocalist Dolette McDonald (all of whom had worked with Sting on at least one of his first two solo LPs), Sting had drummer J.T. Lewis (an early drummer for Living Colour), Tracy Wormworth (ex-bassist for The Waitresses), session guitarist Jeffrey Lee Campbell and Delmar Brown as a second keyboardist. The sets were long, focusing mostly on …Nothing Like the Sun material but also delving into interesting covers and even solo turns from other members.

When the ensemble performed at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on July 27, 1988, Sting apparently decided that this show should get a good recording for possible release as a live record. As a result, the band were in rare form, diving into an hours-long set with plenty of vigor. Of course, as is usually the case, the live record – provisionally titled The Art of the Heart by some – never happened, but in the early 1990s the soundboard feed was leaked and heavily bootlegged.

Releasing the complete set – itself about three discs as a bootleg – would probably be a stretch. But an edited portion from these shows would be a fitting tribute to the underrated nature of Sting’s prowess as a live artist. Have a look at the track list after the jump and share what you’d want to release in the comments.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 28, 2010 at 08:45

Posted in Features, Reissues, Sting

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