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Reissue Theory: Sting, Compiled (UPDATED 1/12)

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, here we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. Today’s installment concerns a former Police man and his lack of decent compilations over the past few decades.

There’s something disconcerting when an artist gets to the point where they’re comfortable enough to do whatever they want, but that “whatever they want” just doesn’t count toward reissues, box sets or the like.

One such example I’ve been thinking of lately is Sting, the erstwhile frontman of The Police and the world’s most hell-bent, pretentiously literary pop star. The Police have been treated well on CD, whether it’s through the Message in a Box set from 1993 or a series of SACD remasters in 2003. Sting’s catalogue, meanwhile, is in need of some sort of attention, regardless of how often ridiculous his albums are.

The last time Sting was even compiled on CD by himself (a threadbare 1997 compilation paired his early singles with the hits of The Police) was 1994. That’s nearly 20 years ago. Now, they say the greatest-hits compilation is sometimes a kiss of death; so often are the post-greatest hits albums kind of boring. Sting has done three pop albums since: the mostly forgettable Mercury Falling (1996), the surprise hit Brand New Day (2000) and the retread Sacred Love (2003). Everything since then has been increasingly pretentious – the lute album, the winter carols album, the orchestral covers album – but you could get a decent single disc compilation of Sting songs from his entire pop career if you (or Universal) wanted.

After the jump, here’s what a new Sting compilation might look like, while we wait for him to reissue some of his early, great albums. (We can wait. We’re patient.)

Sting, All This Time: His Greatest Hits (A&M/UMe)

  1. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Special Dance Remix) – 4:18
  2. Fortress Around Your Heart (Hugh Padgham Remix) – 4:36
  3. Russians – 3:58
  4. We’ll Be Together (Video Mix) – 4:50
  5. Fragile – 3:53
  6. Englishman in New York (Ben Liebrand 7″ Mix) – 4:25
  7. All This Time – 4:55
  8. Why Should I Cry for You? – 4:54
  9. Mad About You (Remix) – 4:01
  10. The Soul Cages (Edit) – 4:24
  11. If I Ever Lose My Faith in You – 4:30
  12. Fields of Gold – 3:42
  13. When We Dance (Edit) – 4:17
  14. You Still Touch Me – 3:46
  15. Desert Rose (featuring Cheb Mami) (Radio Edit) – 3:55
  16. Brand New Day – 6:22
  17. After the Rain Has Fallen (Radio Remix) – 3:55
  18. Send Your Love (Dave Aude Remix) – 3:15

Original versions of Tracks 1-3 from The Dream of the Blue Turtles (A&M DREAM 1 (U.K.)/SP-3750 (U.S.)), 1985.

  • This version of Track 1 from A&M single (AM 2765 (U.S.)), 1985.
  • This version of Track 2 from Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994 (A&M 540 307-2 (U.K.)/314 540 269-2 (U.S.)), 1994.

Original versions of Tracks 4-6 from …Nothing Like the Sun (A&M AMA 6402 (U.K.)/SP-6402 (U.S.)), 1987.

  • This version of Track 4 from music video. An extended version appeared on A&M single (AMCD 410 (U.S.)), 1987.
  • This version of Track 6 from A&M single (AM 580 (U.K.)), 1990.

Original versions of Tracks 7-10 from The Soul Cages (A&M 396 405-1 (U.K. and U.S.)), 1991.

  • This version of Track 9 from A&M single (AMCD 721 (U.K.)/750 217 294-2 (U.S.)), 1991.
  • This version of Track 10 from A&M promotional single (750 217 530-2 (U.S.)), 1991.

Tracks 11-12 from Ten Summoner’s Tales (A&M 540 075-2 (U.K.)/314 540 070-2 (U.S.)), 1993.
Original version of Track 13 from Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994 (A&M 540 307-2 (U.K.)/314 540 269-2 (U.S.)), 1994.

  • This version from A&M promotional single (no catalogue # (U.K.)), 1994.

Track 14 from Mercury Falling (A&M 540 468-2 (U.K.)/314 580 483-2 (U.S.)), 1996.
Original versions of Tracks 15-17 from Brand New Day (A&M 490 451-2 (U.K.)/069 490 443-2 (U.S.)), 2000.

  • This version of Track 15 from A&M single (497 240-2 (U.K.)/069 497 321-2 (U.S.)), 1999.
  • This version of Track 17 from A&M promotional single (AMRR-10318-2 (U.S.)), 2000.

Original version of Track 18 from Sacred Love (A&M 0602498097335 (U.K.)/B0001141-02 (U.S.)), 2003.

  • This version of Track 18 was a bonus track included on the album.

UPDATE: In the comments, there was discussion of making a double-disc edition of the set, not unlike the recent Bon Jovi compilation. The idea was developed even further with a theoretical third bonus disc (some sort of “fan edition”) of B-sides. The thought was so great that a theoretical track list for the B-sides disc has been added below.

  1. Spread a Little Happiness (from Brimstone and Treacle soundtrack)
  2. Another Day (B-side to “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”)
  3. Gabriel’s Message (B-side to “Russians”)
  4. Conversation with a Dog (B-side to “We’ll Be Together”)
  5. If You There (B-side to “They Dance Alone”)
  6. Someone to Watch Over Me (B-side to “Englishman in New York”)
  7. Ghost in the Strand (B-side to “Be Still My Beating Heart”)
  8. Up from the Skies (B-side to “Englishman in New York”)
  9. I Miss You Kate (B-side to “All This Time”)
  10. Everybody Laughed But You (B-side to “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You”)
  11. January Stars (B-side to “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You”)
  12. Lullaby to an Anxious Child (B-side to “You Still Touch Me”)
  13. Beneath a Desert Moon (B-side to “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying”)
  14. Giacomo’s Blues (B-side to “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying”)
  15. The Pirate’s Bride (B-side to “You Still Touch Me”)
  16. This Was Never Meant to Be (B-side to “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying”)
  17. Twenty Five to Midnight (B-side to “You Still Touch Me”)
  18. End of the Game (B-side to “Brand New Day”)

Written by Mike Duquette

January 12, 2011 at 13:04

9 Responses

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  1. Yes, Sting can be ridiculous at times, but he had some big hits during this era. Just when you thought his chart-topping days were over (Soul Cages, Mercury Falling), he’d come back with a huge hit album (Ten Summoner’s Tales, Brand New Day). I think if they were going to do a compilation, they could make it a 2-CD affair and include some of the other singles that had to be left out of your otherwise excellent track list:

    Love is the Seventh Wave (Single Version)
    Moon Over Bourbon Street
    Be Still My Beating Heart
    It’s Probably Me (Soundtrack Version)
    Seven Days
    Shape of My Heart
    Demolition Man (Soundtrack Version)
    Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot
    I Was Brought to My Senses
    I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying
    Whenever I Say Your Name
    Stolen Car

    PS: I’m probably the only person in the universe who feels this way, but I think Mercury Falling is fantastic from start to finish… it may be my favorite Sting album.


    January 11, 2011 at 14:55

    • Mercury Falling is starting to grow on me. “You Still Touch Me” is a really nice song, one of those airy pop tunes Sting can write blindfolded. My favorite is probably still Blue Turtles; I played the hell out of it toward the end of high school and the beginning of college and definitely put my girlfriend through the Bring on the Night documentary more than once…sorry, dear.

      If there was enough of a chance, I’d say Universal should push a Sting compilation the same way as that new Bon Jovi set: two versions, one single-disc and one double-disc, to get everything in there. (My first draft had “Be Still,” “Seven Days,” “Stolen Car” and even “All for Love” with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart – which was on A&M and wouldn’t need to be licensed from another label – but I tried to stay in the under 80-minutes range. (Might I suggest a “fan set” with a third disc of B-sides? There are plenty!)

      Mike Duquette

      January 11, 2011 at 15:02

      • I would suggest that Sting would even be worthy of box set treatment….which by label definition is 2-3 CDs these days, which would make your “fan set” suggestion completely awesome.


        January 11, 2011 at 16:18

  2. Honestly I like the pretentious recent Sting records. We lack pretentious rock stars these days.


    January 11, 2011 at 18:39

  3. What he really needs is a rarities collection – many of his
    best songs are bsides. For Mercury Falling, they were better than
    the album cuts.


    January 11, 2011 at 18:59

  4. Not a hit, but, the studio version of Burn For You from the Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack would be nice to have somewhere other than the Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack. A live version appeared on one of his live albums.


    January 11, 2011 at 19:42

  5. I’ve always had a soft spot for Mercury Falling. It was his last “rock” album before he went completely stupid. As for bonuses on any “hits” collection, I vote for “Spread A Little Happiness” from the B&T soundtrack. A gem.


    January 11, 2011 at 20:57

  6. I have an import reissue of “The Soul Cages” (IMO, Sting’s best album by far) and it sounds fantastic, seek it out!


    January 13, 2011 at 00:45

  7. I would scrap the whole idea of a “greatest hits” box and do a set that is exclusively b-sides and other non-album tracks. I’m not sure how many of these are out there but just from the things I’ve run across I’ll bet you could fill at least two CDs, maybe more. I’m not interested in re-buying songs that I’ve already bought (or chose not to buy in the case of some of his more recent efforts) but a good collection of b-sides might make me open up my wallet.

    Glenn S.

    January 13, 2011 at 12:19

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