More Perfect Playlists: Sting’s solo stuff

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The ongoing summer reunion tour by the Police — which included last night’s appearance as part of the Live Earth concerts — got me to thinking about Sting’s solo stuff, an often too-precious group of records that has nevertheless had its undeniable moments of transcendent beauty.

You want to like Sting, if he would stop acting so smarty.

This remix — primarily featuring uptempo stuff and (count ’em!) three live takes on tunes from his old band — is designed to help. Too, unlike the Live Earth show, Kayne West was not invited to sit in. Thank us later.

We do, however, include both “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “Roxanne” from an intimate Sting show in 2001 that was later issued as the album “All This Time.” Also featured is the Police’s “I Burn for You,” originally a soundtrack contribution on 1982’s “Brimstone and Treacle” and later reinterpreted on Sting’s terrific 1986 disc “Bring on the Night” by his celebrated first solo band.

As with our previous re-do projects, the songs are widely available, sequenced for a standard 80-minute recordable CD — and crossfaded to complete the effect of a studio-produced effort:

1. All Four Seasons
2. Fragile
3. Fortress Around Your Heart
4. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
5. Little Wing
6. Desert Rose
7. If You Love Somebody Set Them
8. When We Dance
9. It’s Probably Me
10. I Burn For You
11. You Still Touch Me
12. Mad About You
13. Russians
14. Moon over Bourbon Street
15. I Was Brought To My Senses
16. A Thousand Years
17. Seven Days
18. Roxanne
19. Be Still My Beating Heart

“I Was Brought to My Senses,” “You Still Touch Me” and our remix’s opener “All Four Seasons” (written, it’s said for his young daughter) are from the 1996 release “Mercury Rising.” This was the final appearance with Sting by late pianist Kenny Kirkland — and included, on the latter two songs, some funky playing by those Stax Records stalwarts, the Memphis Horns.

“Desert Rose” and “A Thousand Years” originally appeared on 1999’s “Brand New Day.” The touching ballad “When We Dance” was a 1994 single.

“Seven Days” is the lone song off 1993’s “Ten Summoner’s Tales,” though an alternate version of “It’s Probably Me” was also released on that CD. We used the more muscular original, taken from one of those “Lethal Weapon” movies — and featuring guitarist Eric Clapton, who also made important contributions to our last remix. Meanwhile, “Mad About You” was part of Sting’s underrated 1991 meditation on the death of his father, “The Soul Cages.”

Sting’s take on Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and the acoustic number “Fragile” appeared on 1987’s “Nothing Like the Sun.” Our remix closes with “Be Still My Beating Heart,” an earlier reunion with Police guitarist Andy Summers from the same disc.

“Fortess Around My Heart” and “If You Love Somebody” can be found on Sting’s initial 1985 solo release, “Dream of the Blue Turtles.” A live rendition of “Moon Over Bourbon Street” from this record is also included, again from 2001’s “All This Time.”

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis is prominently featured throughout, notably on “Fortress” and “I Was Brought to My Senses.” The 2001 live show also included bassist Christian McBride.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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