|First posted 3/24/2008; updated 10/6/2020.|
The Dream of the Blue Turtles
Released: June 1, 1985
Peak: 2 US, 3 UK, 4 CN, 13 AU
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.6 UK, 10.1 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: rock with jazz elements
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 41:40
4.081 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)
About the Album:
While Sting’s first solo album can certainly be viewed as closing a chapter on his stint with the Police, his former group never officially disbanded. After the monstrous success of 1983’s Synchronicity, the group just didn’t reconvene. While the Police were always marked by their spin on “white reggae,” Sting sets out here to put his spin on pop-driven jazz. To that end, he “raided Wynton Marsalis’ band for his new combo – thereby instantly consigning his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, to the critical shorthand of Sting’s jazz record.” STE
This “is partially true (that’s probably the best name for the meandering instrumental title track), but that gives the impression that this is really risky music.” STE In reality, he has assembled a group of “revivalists just developing their own style, and then had them jam on mock-jazz grooves – or, in the case of Branford Marsalis, layer soprano sax lines on top of pop songs.” STE
While his songs could be dismissed as little more than jazz-tinged pop, this should also be assessed as a collection that goes deeper than the average lyrical themes for commercial-ready hits. On If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, “one of his greatest solo singles,” STE he avoids the conventional love song, preferring “to consider love in the abstract.” STE “Only twice does he delve into straightforward love songs – the lovely measured Consider Me Gone and the mournful closer, Fortress Around Your Heart.” STE
Elsewhere on the album he explores the effect of coal mining in We Work the Black Seam, the tragedy of children dealing with war in Children’s Crusade , and raises the question in Russians about whether the people in a country considered the enemy have the same love for their children. He also revives Shadows in the Rain, a Police tune about heroin, STE and even turns in his take on Anne Rice’s book Interview with the Vampire and the notion of wandering “the streets of New Orleans as the vampire Lestat.” STE
The flirtation with jazz and the serious-minded nature of the lyrics leads some to assess Sting as pretentious. All Music Guide’s Stephen Thoms Erlewine says, “Sting cries out for the respect of a composer, not a pop star, and it gets to be a little overwhelming when taken as a whole…He proves that he’s subtler and craftier than his peers, but only when he reins in his desire to show the class how much he’s learned.” STE While Sting may well have earned the “pretentious” label over the course of his career, it’s also eye-rolling to see him attacked for trying to stretch himself as an artist.
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