Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Sting - The Soul Cages (1991)


Released January 1991

Recorded in Paris and Italy

This is a truly excellent album, possibly one of Sting’s best. It deals, loosely, after the passing of Sting’s father, with his life and also the lives of others growing up in Northumberland in the early part of the twentieth century - the shipyards, the fishing industry the way of life, the religion. The music is excellent too, immaculately played, with a great sound quality.


1. Island Of Lost Souls
2. All This Time
3. Mad About You
4. Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
5. Why Should I Cry For You?
6. Saint Agnes And The Burning Train
7. The Wild Wild Sea
8. The Soul Cages
9. When The Angels Fall

In “Island Of Lost Souls” is contained the heart of this album, from the haunting Northumbrian pipes that open the song, through the subtle orchestration and crystal clear percussion to Sting’s mournful vocal concerning the history of the Newcastle shipyards. People can lay into Sting as much they like, but a song like this is a beautiful, sensitive and historically relevant song. It is a superb creation. Top marks. Despite its tragic tale, it is always a thoroughly rewarding listen. “A Newcastle ship without coals - they would sail to the island of souls….”

“All This Time” is the most catchy and upbeat song on the album, with a singalong refrain and a sort of Deacon Blue feel to it. It is also another one to have Paul Simon vibes about it. “Mad About You” has another captivating rhythm to it and a gently reassuring vocal.

“Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)” is a big, thumping upbeat mid-pace rock song, with (as the title suggests) a blues influence. It is one of the most rocking tracks on the album. “Why Should I Cry For You” is a deep, sonorous Paul Simon-influenced number with yet more enticing atmosphere. Sting’s voice is once again truly outstanding on here - sensual and expressive. The backing vocals are impressive too and when the drums kick in it has a huge, dignified power. Another outstanding track.

“Saint Agnes And The Burning Train” is a beautiful, Spanish guitar-led short instrumental. It is simply lovely. “The Wild Wild Sea” is a moving lament of a narrative tale about loss at sea underpinned by some excellent bass and cymbals. The title track has a solid, muscular rock beat and is one of the best cuts on the album. A lot of the material on this album is considerably more accessible than popularly thought. It has a lovely saxophone break in it too.

“When The Angels Fall” is a lengthy, slow and evocative number, dealing with Catholicism and other religious beliefs. Despite its seven minutes, it never outstays its welcome. It is smoothly appealing. This has been a most enjoyable, meaningful, thoughtful and beautifully created album. Highly recommended.


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