Tuesday, October 13, 1987

Sting Nothing Like the Sun released

Nothing Like the Sun


Released: October 13, 1987

Peak: 9 US, 11 UK, 3 CN, 3 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 9.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Lazarus Heart [4:35] (11/28/87, 30 AR, 29 CO)
  2. Be Still My Beating Heart [5:34] (12/31/87, 15 US, 20 CB, 13 RR, 37 AC, 2 AR, 4 CO, 94 AU)
  3. Englishman in New York [4:27] (2/20/88, 84 US, 80 CB, 48 AC, 32 AR, 7 CO, 15 UK)
  4. History Will Teach Us Nothing [5:07]
  5. They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo) [6:48] (8/31/88, 16 CO)
  6. Fragile [3:58] (4/9/88, 18 AA, 22 CO, 70 UK)
  7. We’ll Be Together [4:53] (10/9/87, 7 US, 7 CB, 8 RR, 20 AR, 4 CO, 41 UK, 13 AU)
  8. Straight to My Heart [3:54]
  9. Rock Steady [4:28]
  10. Sister Moon [3:57]
  11. Little Wing (Hendrix) [5:03] (10/24/87, 11 AR, 25 CO)
  12. The Secret Marriage (Eisler/Sting) [2:02]

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 54:45

The Players:

  • Sting (vocals, bass, guitar, arrangements)
  • Mike Egan (bass)
  • Hiram Bullock, Andy Summers, Eric Clapton, Fareed Haque, Mark Knopfler (guitar)
  • Kenny Kirkland, Ken Helman (keyboards/piano)
  • Manu Katche, Kenwood Dennard, Andy Newmark (drums)
  • Mino Cinelu (percussion, vocoder)
  • Brandford Marsalis (saxophone)
  • Gil Evans & His Orchestra (on “Little Wing”)
  • Janice Pendarvis, Dolette McDonald, Renee Geyer, Pamela Quinlan, Vesta Williams, Annie Lennox (backing vocals)
  • Ruben Blades (spoken Spanish on “They Dance Alone”)


4.366 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“If Dream of the Blue Turtles was an unabashedly pretentious affair, it looks positively lighthearted in comparison to Sting’s sophomore effort, Nothing Like the Sun, one of the most doggedly serious pop albums ever recorded.” AMG Some critics, such as The Village Voice’s Robert Christgau, thought Sting was still pretentious on this record. Trouser Press’s Ira Robbins called it “self important…a tedious, bankrupt and vacuous cavern of a record.” WK On the flip side, All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls this “one of his better albums.” AMG

“This is an album where the only up-tempo track, the only trifle – the cheerfully stiff white-funk We’ll Be Together – was added at the insistence of the label because they believed there wasn’t a cut on the record that could be pulled as a single, one that would break down the doors to mainstream radio.” AMG

“And they were right, since everything else here is too measured, calm, and deliberately subtle to be immediate (including the intentional throwaway, Rock Steady). So, why is it a better album than its predecessor? Because Sting doesn’t seem to be trying so hard. It flows naturally, largely because this isn’t trying to explicitly be a jazz-rock record. Thank the presence of a new rhythm section of Sting and drummer Manu Katche for that.” AMG

This is an album which effortlessly “explores the genres of pop rock, soft rock, jazz, reggae, world, acoustic rock, dance rock, and funk rock.” WK Rolling Stone’s Anthony DeCurtis wrote that “musically he is stretching without straining.” WK He said the album represented an “impressive growth for Sting. His voice is rich, grainy, and more mature; his ideas are gaining in complexity.” WK

This is an album which also features a number of well-known guests, including Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Annie Lennox, and former Police drummer Andy Summers. Jazz legend Gil Evans even assists on Sting’s cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Little Wing.

“The melodies are insinuating, slowly working their way into memory, while the entire record plays like a mood piece – playing equally well as background music or as intensive, serious listening.” AMG There are times “Sting’s words can still grate”AMG such as in “the stifling pompousness of History Will Teach Us Nothing, the clearest example, yet calls of ‘Hey Mr. Pinochet’ also strike an uneasy chord,” AMG but often “his lyricism shines.” AMG

The album title was taken from the line “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” from Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 130. Sting uses the line in the song Sister Moon. Sting says he quoted the line to a drunk who asked, “How beautiful is the moon?” WK That song and Englishman in New York continue the jazz-rock sound that Sting employed on The Dream of the Blue Turtles. The latter song was written in honor of English writer, raconteur, and artist Quentin Crisp. WK

Inspiration for the album came from the death of Sting’s mother and his participation in Amnesty International’s Cospiracy of Hope tour. He saw parts of Latin America ravaged by civil wars and governments which oppressed its people. They Dance Alone was inspired by wives and daughters in Chile dancing the Cueca, a traditional dance expressing grief about men who had been tortured and murdered by the country’s military dictatorship. WK

Be Still My Beating Heart was nominated for Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. That song and The Lazarus Heart “approach the subjects of life, love, and death.” WK The latter was originally written to be the musical finale of the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In an earlier version of the movie, Roger Rabbit was killed. When Disney changed the ending, the song was deleted. WK

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/25/2021.

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