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Back to “The Labyrinth”: Sting’s Lute Album Revisited with Live Tracks

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Sting Labyrinth DeluxeIt’s likely the first time in history a “450th anniversary edition” of an album will ever be released! Universal is repackaging Sting’s esoteric 2006 outing Songs from the Labyrinth to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of the 16th century English composer to which Sting paid tribute on the album.

Even for a fellow as intensely…Sting-like as the man born Gordon Sumner, you could be forgiven for seeing Songs from the Labyrinth as a tough sell. Working solely with Bosnian lutenist Edin Karamazov, Sting sang the melancholy works of Dowland (1563-1626), who earned contemporary accolades for his approach to the lute and was paid quite handsomely during an eight-year stint in the employ of King Christian IV of Denmark. (To further set the scene for Dowland’s life and work, spoken excerpts, also recorded by Sting, from a letter penned by Dowland are woven throughout the album.)

It was no Synchronicity, of course, but Songs from the Labyrinth was a strong seller for a classical album (released not on Sting’s longtime home of A&M Records but the Universal-owned Deutsche Grammophon). It charted at Nos. 24 and 25 on the U.K. and U.S. charts, respectively, and Sting and Karamazov followed up with a tour that saw them tackle these tunes along with some select others – namely, bluesman Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail” and Sting’s own “Message in a Bottle” and “Fields of Gold.” And for those who’d feared Sting would leave pop music forever, he followed Songs from the Labyrinth with an amazing year-and-a-half back in stadiums with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland as The Police. (Sting’s return to solo pop songcraft didn’t happen until the release of The Last Ship late last month, a collection of songs written for a forthcoming Broadway musical due next year.)

The “Dowland Anniversary Edition” of the record includes a great deal of bonus content from a separate release, 2007’s The Journey and The Labyrinth CD/DVD documentary. That release featured behind-the-scenes footage and live tracks recorded at St. Luke’s Concerette in London. (All eight audio tracks from The Journey and The Labyrinth are repeated here, with an additional live recording of “Fields of Gold.”)

The revised Labyrinth is available now, and yours to order after the jump.

Sting, Songs from the Labyrinth: Dowland Anniversary Edition (Deutsche Grammophon B0019048-00, 2013)

Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Disc 1: Original album (released as Deutsch Grammophon B0007220-02, 2006) and live bonus tracks

  1. Walsingham
  2. Can She Excuse My Wrongs
  3. Ryght Honorable… (letter to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury)
  4. Flow My Tears (Lachrimae)
  5. Have You Seen the Bright Lily Grow
  6. …Then in Time Passing On… (continuation of letter)
  7. The Battle Galliard
  8. The Lowest Trees Have Tops
  9. … And Accordinge as I Desired Ther Cam a Letter… (continuation of letter)
  10. Fine Knacks for Ladies
  11. …From Thence I Went to Landgrave of Hessen… (continuation of letter)
  12. Fantasy
  13. Come, Heavy Sleep
  14. Forlorn Hope Fancy
  15. …And from Thence I Had Great Desire to See Italy… (continuation of letter)
  16. Come Again
  17. Wilt Thou Unkind Thus Reave Me
  18. …After My Departures I Caled to Mynde… (continuation of letter)
  19. Weep You No More, Sad Fountains
  20. My Lord Willoughby’s Welcome Home
  21. Clear or Cloudy
  22. …Men Say That the Kinge of Spain… (continuation of letter)
  23. In Darkness Let Me Dwell
  24. Flow My Tears (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  25. The Lowest Trees Have Tops (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  26. Fantasy (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  27. Come Again (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  28. Have You Seen the Bright Lily Grow (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  29. In Darkness Let Me Dwell (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  30. Hellhound on My Trail (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)
  31. Fields of Gold (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006) *
  32. Message in a Bottle (Live @ St. Luke Old Street, London – October 2006)

Tracks 24-32 (except *) released on The Journey and The Labyrinth (Deutsche Grammophon B0008448-00, 2007)

Disc 2: The Journey and The Labyrinth DVD

– Main Feature

  1. Come Again
  2. Project Origin
  3. Can She Excuse My Wrongs
  4. The Lute and the Labyrinth
  5. The Lowest Trees Have Tops
  6. Flow My Tears
  7. Dowland’s Exile
  8. Clear and Cloudy
  9. Political Intrigue
  10. Have You Seen the Bright Lily Grow
  11. Weep You No More, Sad Fountains
  12. Le Rossignol
  13. Religion
  14. Sting and the Lute
  15. Come, Heavy Sleep
  16. In Darkness Let Me Dwell
  17. Choir Rehearsal
  18. Fine Knacks for Ladies
  19. Can She Excuse My Wrongs

– Live @ St. Luke’s Church, London – October 2006

  1. Walsingham
  2. Extract from a Letter to Robert Cecil
  3. Flow My Tears
  4. Have You Seen the Bright Lily Grow
  5. Clear or Cloudy
  6. Fields of Gold

– Rehearsal footage

  1. Can She Excuse My Wrongs
  2. Message in a Bottle
  3. Hellhound on My Trail
  4. Forlorn Hope Fancy (Edin Karamazov solo)

Written by Mike Duquette

October 24, 2013 at 10:23

Posted in DVD, News, Reissues, Sting

One Response

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  1. I bought all this stuff when it first came out and as much as I want to appreciate it for what it is I’ve never been in the mood to listen to it. Listened to the album once or twice when I first bought it, watched the DVD once and that’s about it. I really miss the sound and mood of 80’s/90’s Sting! While the 2000’s have brought some interesting material I haven’t heard anything since Brand New Day that’s pulled me in and made me go “Yes, Sting!” I was a very avid Sting collector until around Sacred Love and then began losing interest from once release to the next. Symphoncities was kind of cool but I wish he’d just put out a straight pop album again. Anyway, just had to vent when I saw this. Super odd investment from a record label. Curious to know how it will sell.

    Bradley James

    October 24, 2013 at 17:09

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