Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Sting - The Dream Of The Blue Turtles (1985)


Released June 1985

Recorded in Barbados and Quebec

Only seven years after launching himself as a punk with The Police’s rough and ready debut album, Sting was putting this out, his debut solo album. A very “adult” piece of work it was too - full of jazz and laid-back vibes. The sound quality on this album is outstanding. It has crystal clear percussion, saxophone and a nice, warm bass. It is a genuine pleasure to listen to. At the time his many punk/new wave fans pretty much disowned him upon this album's release, amid complaints that he had "lost it" and become "pretentious/full of himself" and the like.


1. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
2. Love Is The Seventh Wave
3. Russians
4. Children's Crusade
5. Shadows In The Rain
6. We Work The Black Seam
7. Consider Me Gone
8. The Dream Of The Blue Turtles
9. Moon Over Bourbon Street
10. Fortress Around Your Heart

“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” is an upbeat piece of pulsating jazzy, soulful rock. It is somewhat more rock-ish than most of the album. “Love Is The Seventh Wave” is a rhythmic, reggae-tinged lively number enhanced by some melodic South African-style saxophone. He even spoofs his Police hit “Every Breath You Take” at the end, with the line “every cake you bake”. “Russians” meant well in its message at the time, but it sounds very naive, simplistic and dated now. “Children’s Crusade” is in a similar, admirable anti-war vein, it is very moving and evocative, both lyrically and musically.

“Shadows In The Rain” has a strange intro, but once it gets going it sounds like a jazzy working of a Police song. It is upbeat, lively and impressively played. “Consider Me Gone” is a sumptuous, laid-back slice of jazz/blues with an impressive vocal. Great saxophone in it too. Very atmospheric and entrancing. It gets very upbeat and vibrant at the end, drum-wise.

“We Work The Black Seam” is a moving, topical song about the decline of the coal mining industry set against an infectious slowly rhythmic beat and a beaitiful saxophone floating in and out. The title track is a minute or so of jazzy piano and captivating bass. A mood track, that’s all. It gets you ready for the next one, which is a good one. “Moon Over Bourbon Street” is just wonderful. Jazzy and atmospheric with tango and classical influences and Branford Marsalis’s delicious saxophone. Sting’s vocal is ideal for this material. Quality. Great lyrics too - “the brim of my hat hides the eye of a beast…”. Sting was/is a much underrated lyricist.

The album ends with the slightly Japanese-sounding “Fortress Around Your Heart” (at the beginning). It is backed with the by now ubiquitous melodic bass. Half way through a big, kicking drum beat launches in and it sounds more like a Police in their later-era song. Either way it is great closer to what was a decidedly impressive debut solo album.


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