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Review: Sting My Songs

Sting / My Songs new album

Sting tinkering with his old classics is a pointless exercise, says SDE editor Paul Sinclair

Of all the things Sting could do these days, putting out a solo album filled with new compositions doesn’t appear to be high in his list of priorities. Whilst he’s been quite busy in recent years, he has sought creative and personal satisfaction from his The Last Ship project, which was by nature rather collaborative, he’s made a record with Shaggy (which was actually a lot of fun) and even on tour Sting has teamed up with others to keep him company (Paul Simon and now Shaggy). 2016’s 57th & 9th is his only solo album in the last 15 years and after its somewhat tepid reception, Sting may well have thought ‘what’s the point?’

But hey, even if you easily sell out tours largely on the strength of your greatest hits, chances are your marketing ‘team’ will advise that you still need something new-sounding to hang it on, and if you haven’t got fresh songs or perhaps a reissue to promote, what other options are available to you? Step forward the idea of ‘revisiting’ old songs!

Sting’s My Songs is exactly such a project. He has re-recorded some of his old numbers, and it seems ‘deep cuts’ isn’t in his vocabulary – at least for this initiative. It includes massive Police hits like ‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘Message In A Bottle’ and solo favourites such as ‘Englishman In New York’ and ‘If You Love Somebody Set Them Free’. Some songs are complete re-recordings, while others are a Brundlefly fusion of new and old. Describing the approach, Sting picks his words carefully, although not carefully enough to avoid sounding like a double-glazing salesman: “Some of them reconstructed, some of them refitted, some of them reframed, and all of them with a contemporary focus.” Remember that last phrase.

So what are these new versions like? It varies, but if there’s one thing these recordings have in common it’s that none of them improve on the originals. That need not render the My Songs initiative a pointless exercise, because there’s much pleasure to be had from creative explorations or getting to a finished song via an alternative route, but Sting really isn’t interested in that at this juncture. He’s eschewing any twisty musical B-roads and opting for the sitting-in-the-middle-lane of a straight and direct motorway. He’s has typed ‘contemporary focus’ into his sat nav and isn’t going to risk not reaching that destination.

This goal, that destination, is about maximising the appeal of his back catalogue to a much younger, streaming-dominated generation. He’s really shoving a needle into the temples of some great pop songs and injecting a bit of botox; filling out what he perceives as some cragginess and making them (in his eyes) fit for purpose for young listeners.

To be fair, Sting’s arguments are thoughtfully presented. He told Billboard earlier this year that “sometimes songs are identified by the technology they were recorded with – recording techniques, the sound of synthesizers or the drum sound. They all date a song, so we just want to re-contemporise the stuff.” In other words, he feels that some of the production is dated and getting in the way of people hearing or enjoying his old Police and solo hits. Millennials scared off by the punky rawness of the late 1970s or the reverb and bombast of the 1980s.

The problem is, while I accept that no one is denying us access to the originals, Sting is effectively creating a marketplace with two versions of these songs, the songs as released and these ‘reframed/refitted/reconstructed’ versions. That could be confusing. Also, has anyone ever actually said “I really like ‘Every Breath You Take’ but I wish it didn’t sound so old-fashioned”?

Let’s talk about some specifics. As far as I’m concerned “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” is one of Sting’s most enduring solo songs and should be left well alone. Alas, Mr Sumner is doing the opposite of leaving it alone. He must really hate how the original sounds, because he’s constantly fiddling with this track. It was was subjected to at least eight awful dance remixes back in 1994, was remixed for the 25 Years compilation/box set back in 2011 and he’s tinkered with it again for My Songs. This new version is effectively a mild dance mix that surgically removes most of the song’s personality. Something like a ‘Tin Tin Out’ remix from the late 1990s. The vocal sounds like the original to these ears, but the drums are now programmed. Who’d want to replace Omar Hakim with a drum machine? Kate Bush chose to do the opposite with Director’s Cut, replacing soulless programmed rhythms with Steve Gadd. You listen back to the original version of ‘If You Love Somebody Set Them Free’ and absorb the wonderful organic arrangement with that hammond, and the loose drums and the world class list of musicians (including Kenny Kirkland, Branford Marsalis) and can only shake your head in exasperation when you hear the new one.

The beautiful “Shape of My Heart” (surprisingly, not a hit back in 1993) has a percussive ‘click’ not in the original and in this instance does have a new vocal. It is sung perfectly well, but I’m sorry, it’s simply not as good as the original. While fashions in production and musical styles may change for the better over time (or maybe not) what rarely improves is the human singing voice. Artists like Sting have a habit of trying to convince us that their voices are ‘more interesting’ in their later years (George Michael once said he found his singing voice in the 80s ‘boring’) but they’re surely kidding themselves – the unbridled range and power of the ‘early years’ is always going to be preferable. There’s no shame in losing some of your range when you get to your 50s or 60s but let’s get real… it’s not normally ‘better’. Apart from the inferior vocal, Shape Of My Heart doesn’t sound a whole lot different, which begs the question, why?

‘Every Breath You Take’ is fundamentally the same, although it now has a drum sound like someone hitting a cardboard box. Also, to the point above, the original had a very relaxed vocal during the verses, 35 years later Sting has to try harder and you can hear the effort. It’s not as relaxing a listen. Rather like watching your kid perform in the school play. You’re worried it’s all going to go wrong. This song exhibits the worst attributes of My Songs. It’s a new recording – and therefore ‘different’ – but is so similar as to be utterly pointless. There is literally NO reason to listen to this version above the original.

‘I Can’t Stand Losing You’ is similar to ‘Every Breath You Take’. The youthful exuberance is sucked from the song as a bloke in his mid-sixties tries to recreate his youth. Meanwhile ‘Fields of Gold’ at least boasts a slightly different intro (and outro), although like ‘Shape of My Heart’ Sting is convinced the key to streaming success is to change the snare sound. Not a click this time but more of a ‘pfft’ sound. Other than that, it all sounds fairly similar.

And the album continues in the same vein. Sting rather over enunciates the lyrics to a facsimile ‘Englishman In New York’ and throws in some car horns beeping over that booming drum break (for no apparent reason), while ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ has lost all its balls; the synth pads and fat rhythm section are the skilled veterans made redundant and replaced with work experience team of light skipping percussion and ambient styling. ‘Faith’ is actually quite bad, to be honest.

It’s sad that, as with Paul McCartney – who recently worked with Ryan Tedder for a few tracks on the Egypt Station sessions – Sting apparently wants to sound MORE GENERIC to ‘fit in’ with modern musical landscapes. Neither man, it seems, can switch off the desire to be a pop star and therefore they are driven to stay ‘popular’ and will do whatever is required, even if it means messing with rock/pop classics (in Sting’s case) or releasing new material that’s close to embarrassing (McCartney).

There’s another element to all this. Re-recording your old material is often financially an astute move, if your label retains rights to the original recordings. It’s not clear if this is Sting’s motivation, but potentially, if a Sting-penned track is up for being used for a movie or TV, Sting’s representatives will be sure proffer the ‘My Songs’ version and potentially earn more for ’sync’ rights than if they used the original. Blondie re-recorded their old hits for similar reasons back in 2014, with their Greatest Hits Redux, but at least they had the decency to bundle it as a freebie with their new album at the time (Ghosts of Download). With Sting ‘My Songs’ IS the new album!

Good for Sting, he’s a canny operator, but it starts to dawn on you that this project is rather inward looking. It is all about Sting, what suits him, what works for his tour what gets him a (perceived) leg-up in the world of streaming and the yoof of today. Sting is the angler who buys his wife a fishing rod for Christmas, and expects her to be thrilled. We don’t really get what we want (new songs, or at least interesting rearrangements of old songs) but rather we have to force a smile as he hands over what he actually wants. Thank you for my present Sting, I really hope you enjoy it.

My Songs is released on CD on 24 May 2019. The vinyl follows two weeks later.

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Standard CD/vinyl editions

  1. Brand New Day
  2. Desert Rose
  3. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
  4. Every Breath You Take
  5. Demolition Man
  6. Can’t Stand Losing You
  7. Fields of Gold
  8. So Lonely
  9. Shape of My Heart
  10. Message in a Bottle
  11. Fragile
  12. Walking on the Moon
  13. Englishman in New York
  14. If I Ever Lose My Faith in You
  15. Roxanne (Live)

Deluxe CD bonus tracks:

  1. Synchronicity II (Live)
  2. Next To You (Live)
  3. Spirits In The Material World (Live)
  4. Fragile (Live)

Japanese Deluxe CD adds:

I Can’t Stop Thinking About You (Live) (Japan Exclusive)

French Exclusive Deluxe CD adds:

Desert Rose (Extended Version) (France Exclusive)

SuperDeluxeEdition.com helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.

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[…] issued the largely pointless ‘My Songs‘ album (twice!). None of the Police long-players or his solo records have been expanded or […]

[…] though My Songs isn’t very good (see the SDE review) the double CD set with the live tracks is only £10.99 in the UK right now, which is a pretty good […]

Peter Grainger

I was hoping for more refinement or rearrangement in the songs, so I came away thinking– they are still good songs– even a few great ones– but nothing new that really improves them or reinterprets them in any outstanding way. Perhaps it was another contractual stop-gap, while Sting considers his next truly creative move, writes some new material, ETC. Like Rick Gassko, “Soul Cages” is still my fave Sting solo release; I also really enjoyed “The Last Ship”. I am hoping Mr. Sumner can create something as strong as those soulful sets of songs.

Jules(Rules)

For the most part, I agree with Paul’s review. There is one rather important point I don’t concur with at all though, and that’s the comment about voices. Paul does sound very much like somebody stuck in the past and unable to appreciate an artist’s development, in that paragraph. If that’s your opinion, fine, but stating it as if it were an universal truth (“they’re surely kidding themselves – the unbridled range and power of the ‘early years’ is always going to be preferable”) is a huge no-no. If all you’re hearing is a loss of range, then you’re not listening carefully enough (Sting himself called it “texture”, which is a good description). Many singers accumulate experience and wisdom through their lives. This is interesting and makes the singing more interesting. The paragraph reads ageist, as if only a young voice is of any worth. Many artists have proven that this is not the case, Johnny Cash springs to mind. Joni Mitchell said that on her original version of “Both Sides Now”, she was not the right singer for the song at all, whereas she prefers the versions she recorded much later. Technically, she clearly lost a lot of her range by then, but she had gone through so much to actually fill those words with life.

Obviously, this isn’t really the case with “My Songs”. Sting doesn’t seem interested in getting more emotion out of the songs. And I can’t really blame him either. These are mostly songs he’s been singing for years, and obviously they are going to sound tired and worn out because they are overplayed (plus he’s already done “Symphonicities”). There was a similar problem with Status Quo’s two Aquostic albums: While many of the songs that Quo had never performed live sounded fresh and interesting, the concert staples were mostly thin rip-offs of the worn out live versions. Had Sting chosen less hits and more deep cuts, this would not have been such a big issue. He also betrays this concept by singing the songs mostly in the same key as the originals (which mainly shows what he’s lost and not what he’s gained – although his range is still remarkable considering his age) and by using original vocals on some tracks, which just invites comparison!

Still, I take offence at that statement that the young voice is “always going to be preferable”. It’s just not true. Especially with people who become successful at a young age and are really still half-grown boys. I mean, listen to Francis Rossi on the early Quo albums, he doesn’t sound so convincing when singing songs about being cheated by many women!

Maybe it’s because I’m also coming from a blues/jazz perspective – where in pop/rock I often hear people moaning and wishing a band/artist would stop, it’s not even an option for many musicians of those genres. You work with what you got and while obviously you lose something, more often that not you also gain something. And some manage to stay in remarkable form; look at Tony Bennett! I also happen to agree with George Michael. When I read that sentence in your review I finally realized why, beyond “The Edge of Heaven”, I’ve never managed to find much to like about Wham! – GM’s voice is still very ‘boyish’ and, to be frank, has virtually no character. Quite remarkable how the same guy, a few years later, could absolutely get under your skin with songs such as “Jesus to a Child” or “Older”, which are so much more expressive than the (sorry) plastic pop of Wham!

One thing that really stands out the most negatively to me is with the songs that originally had some swing to them (Brand New Day, Englishman in New York)… they don’t swing anymore. At all. All the groove – completely lost. The approach to rhythm, to adding programming that doesn’t correlate with the melody (Brand New Day) or the basslines (Englishman), to me is completely bewildering. And that white noise ‘whooshing’ in “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” is absolutely disgusting and horrifying. How can an experienced musician like him, who did not grow up with EDM and the like, not only produce such versions, but actually deem them worth releasing? And when he does something “new”, it seems random (like cutting out part of the sax solo on “Englishman” and ruining a brilliant fade-out), but when it comes to putting some of the live embellishments like the extra parts in “Fragile” into a new studio version… it doesn’t happen. Why? That would have made it more interesting.

The really bad result of this is radio djs all across the board lauding these new versions and suddenly talking about Sting nonstop (which didn’t happen with any of his other recent projects), as if they’ve all collectively lost their ears… claiming a song sounds “fuller”. Well, what’s better, something that sounds “full” but quickly tires your ears or something that actually has space and definition?!

William Kates

Thank you Paul for the honesty of your review. I’m sure that many fans share this opinion but would think twice before putting it in print. This album is a testament to the quality of the song writing, something that we haven’t seen from Sting for a long time.

Thomas B Clark

It’s all about cash. Which, if I had Sting’s talent, catalog, and marketing team, I’d do the same. No royalties to former band mates. Plus touring is where the real money continues to be. He wants the ticket-buying crowd to buy those tickets with the expectation of hearing how he sounds today. Training our ears. “Come and hear me play “These Versions of My Songs.” And while he’s a savvy-enough marketer to have actually said “reconstructed/refitted/reframed,” that sounds like a copywriter’s work to me.

MüllerMüller

Hallo Paul – Did you know how long „Dessert Rose“ Extended runs?

Robert Laversuch

Wow just got my copy. Actually quite like it and might be the only one on here who does. I feel that the songs a different enough to merit their inclusion. But maybe it is just that Sting will always be one of my gods and cannot do anything wrong.

Carrie

Well said, Robert…I agree wholeheartedly.

davide

3 songs remixed, some same as the originals and mostly live songs from The Police Certifiable, live in Buenos Aires 2008.
A complete mess
I have everything from The Pólice&Sting…this time I will not buy it

MusicFan

The speculation about ‘live’ tracks hasn’t been backed up with any evidence.

The ‘studio’ versions of the Police tracks are credited as being recorded at Sear Sound and Avatar New York, The Village and Cherry Tree Los Angeles and ocean Way Nashville.

The tracks that are clearly listed as ‘Live’ are credited as being from the Olympia concert in Paris.

Even by merely comparing the versions from My Songs with those on The Police Certifiable, it’s sooooo obvious there are ZERO similarities between those recordings!

Will

I guess You’ve listened to the same version as I did ;-). But now I have the cd and I can tell You there aren’t Certifiable songs on it.

Greg

Looking at the tracklist, is it possible that Sting has given up hoping that Russians do in fact love their children? Perhaps that lyric could have been better phrased.

Jules(Rules)

The best thing, for me, about this release is that I finally get to hear Sting sing “Demolition Man”. But I still prefer the absolutely ferocious version by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band :)

(And yes, I could check out the original at some point… ;-))

Penny P.

Sting made the same error that U2 did by waiting too long to record a follow-up to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It took five years for No Line on the Horizon to emerge. That album for me had 3 awesome songs, a couple of okay ones, and the rest was junk. The same thing happened when Sting waited four years to release Sacred Love after the phenomenal success of Brand New Day. Sacred Love ended up just like Horizon. 3 great songs, a couple of okay ones, and the rest junk. Writing music is like a muscle. You need to do it all the time or you lose your edge. I also don’t buy into writer’s block. Like Norman Mailer used to say, you sit at that table very day whether you feel inspired or not. After Sacred Love, Sting waited 13 freaking years to put out a new solo album or real original material. And it showed. The guy is my favorite singer, but 57th & 9th is the worst album he has written, with the Police or on his own. I listened to it 3 times, set it aside, listened to it six months later, and haven’t listened to it since. Don’t like a single song off of it. Directionless and unfocused.

Larry Davis

I just got the US deluxe edition, kept in mind Paul’s comments, but gave it an objective listen…and ya know what?? Zero problems with it! And I prefer cardboard mini-LP gatefold packaging to Jewelcases…have to say radio killed many of these songs that I had little to no desire to hear them again…not anymore…these new versions add a fresh shot in the arm to these songs that I want to get the catalogue back…I like what he did with them, from dance mixes to punky energy to even noise on Demolition Man…I love the new version of Englishman in NY…as for it being pointless, perhaps, but I really think Sting was having fun in the studio tinkering with them, and hey, I am sure his studio bill was much less than if he was making a new record…this is simply a fun exercise to inject new life into some perhaps tired songs…and the 5 live tracks are welcome too, espesh the punky Next To You and the always great Synchronicity II…you can say any record is pointless, espesh compilations, but nothing wrong with a fun tinkering…Paul Simon’s recent album was the same approach and no one complained…

JI'm S

I totally agree, Sting has the right to be Sting. He’s not mixing this for everyone, it’s fun.
Leave it at that.
I just spent last night at the Met in Philly and enjoyed all of it!

Drew

While several of the tracks do nothing to improve on the original (i.e. nearly all of the Police material), or actually are a step backward (‘Fields of Gold’, ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith’), most of them I find unnecessary at worst and “inoffensive” at best. I do rather like a handful of these new takes though.

The more hard-driving version of ‘Demolition Man’ is pretty cool, and I shed no tears for the loss of Sting’s obnoxiously amateur saxophone work. I think I also prefer the new ‘If You Love Somebody’ to the original, which I always found rather boring and tended to skip over when listening to ‘Dream of the Blue Turtles.’ I find it ironic that his attempt to “freshen the arrangement” turned it into disco.

Sting’s one of those artists who is always tinkering with his work, and I appreciate that he’s not too precious about the particulars. I’m sure he plays the songs a bit different these days than he used to, so it makes sense that he’d want to go back and do some updated work. That said, I’d rather that he’d gone into more of the deep cuts rather than just rehashing his hits, but he’s never shied away from commercialization so it’s more of a disappointment than a surprise.

Marc

Absolutely the worst album by Sting. It’s a perfect demonstration about how to destroy beatiful songs. It doesn’t worth one cent.

MusicFan

I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to these tracks over the weekend – afterall, Sting is an incredible song writer.

However, the packaging for the standard and deluxe edition is CHEAP and NASTY!

If Sting was so very proud of his music history why oh why allow this project to be packaged so cheap!

The standard CD should be a jewel case and the deluxe should be a nice hardback digi-book with expanded liner notes.

Surely record companies and artists have been releasing product for a long time now and I would expect them to know how to do things right!

Absolutely abhorrent!!!!

Kauwgompie

Thank you for the review, I couldn’t agree more. The biggest problem to me, which Paul describes perfectly well, is his voice. I immediately recognized that his voice lost the ability for higher notes. Totally normal but what’s not, is re-recording your 70 and 80’s songs with an inferior voice from 2019 and thinking ppl will like it. I also don’t like some of the arrangements, while others are the same (like Every Breath…). This album is a firm no for me. One star for effort and giving us a CD Deluxe version
I also noticed that Sting seems to get grumpier as he gets older. This doesn’t make me like his music more.

AJ

Just a quick heads-up about the FNAC deluxe edition: it’s a 2CD fold-out digipak. CD1 is the same 15 tracks as the UK standard CD. CD2 has the additional 4 live tracks as per the UK deluxe edition with the fifth track being Desert Rose (Extended Version) – exclusive to this release (as Paul stated). However, as well as the CD containing the booklet in English there is an additional insert covering the same recollections from Sting about each of the songs in French!

Thilo

Sting/Shaggy’s Album Superdeluxe Edition is just 14.99€ at JPC, probably we can get the “My Songs” deluxe edition (in its very boring package! ) much cheaper by the end of summer….

Daniel ( from Berlin )

hello paul, thanks for the intensive review to “my songs”. you invest so much time to give your thoughts and feelings the right words. i thought first this album will be an acoustic album who becomes boring after the 5th song. but “my songs” was a surprise to me. obviously i am the only one who is happy with this release. the last album “57th & 9th” was for me a disaster. not one song i think was melodic. “my songs” comes to me like a good pop album with re-created songs. especially i like “fragile” – it is still melancholic in this new version.

Peter

What he did to If You Love Somebody is an abomination.

Jon

Having listened to the US version I have to say this was wildly unneeded. Brand New Day/Desert Rose doesn’t sound very far from the original versions, If You Love Somebody Set Me Free sounds ok but nowhere near as good as the original. Every Breath You Take sounds a bit too karaoke to me. The haunting (and longing) feeling in the original music is all but gone here. Demolition Man is supposed to be a classic (I never liked the song) but at least this is better then the new version released in 1993. “Can’t Stand Losing You”, “Message in a Bottle” and “So Lonely” adds nothing new to the original. The electronic drum beats ruin “Fields of Gold”. “Shape of My Heart”, originally a beautiful song has been turned into a bore here. “Fragile” has been done to death and this version is just a trifle. “Walking On the Moon” sounds like an alternate version of the original. “Englishman” is ruined by electronic drum beats and oh my gawd what he has done to “If I Ever Lose My Faith” should be criminal. The live version of Roxanne sounds like most of his live versions of this track, it’s nothing special and maybe it’s just me, but seems edited (it’s only three minutes long). None of these new versions sound “contemporary” to me. This feels and sounds like a quick artist cash in to escape a record contract. What I did like is his backstories for the songs in the liner notes. I with he would get over his obsession against reissues.

Chris Squires

If you love somebody seems to me to be trying it’s hardest to become “Fastlove” by George Michael.

Craig Walker

I’ve been a massive Sting fan but the guy is hard to like these days. Ten Summoner’s Tales is one of my favourite albums and shows Sting at the pinnacle of his career. The studio albums have got progressively worse since. Mercury Falling was great. Brand New Day less good but had its moments. Sacred Love was okay. The last album was nowhere near as good. I liked The Last Ship show but the guy is just living off his back catalogue now. I prefer to listen to Mark Knopfler and Donald Fagen now. Artists who don’t need to collaborate with rappers and the like and acknowledge their age. I find it sad that it has come to this. I want to listen to Larry Adler, Vinnie Coluita, Omar Hakim. Kenny Kirkland etc. I don’t need to hear programmed drum beats and vocal effects.

[…] My Songs will be issued on 24 May 2019 via Universal Music (the vinyl follows on 7 June). Read the SDE review here. […]

Michael Caspar

I’ve been a Police / Sting fan since 1979. I have now listened to My Songs (“of course” the French version with Desert Rose (extended)). Sting’s voice has gotten older. More mature would be the wrong word, because Sting sounded very mature at least since the 90s. He has to work harder to get the vocal performance. Of course, this is noticeable when he re-records old songs. With slow thoughtful songs, I find that even more positive, because that gives the songs a brittle note. Sting produced many alternative versions of his songs in the 80s and 90s. Remix / movie / live versions of all kinds were there. I always enjoyed it when there was something new to discover. With this attitude, I also approached My Songs. Sting could also have just remastered the old versions, which must be rather boring and unrelenting for an artist. Better new versions. For me there is light and shadow: some loops annoying. Real musicians would have been more exciting. The sound should be fatter and therefore more contemporary. For me, an unnecessary pandering. He will not reach the youth either way. For me as a long-term fan, it’s nice to have a late view on these classics. “Staying” are the originals. So it could be a bad album. But it’s fun to deal with it. And it makes you compare the old ones with the new ones. It makes sense here and now for me. It can not be a classic …
Actually, I do not need the live bonus versions, as they are already on the BluRay “live at the Olympia Paris” (and I extracted them from there as a music file). Nevertheless, they are great live versions! Desert Rose (extended) is not really worth it, especially since the French version was a few euros more expensive for just a song more. The version is too close to the (ingenious) original from 1999. As a fan bearable …

Olov

Ironically, these new recordings sounds more dated than most of the originals.

Holger

I’d like to say I really like the new rock version of “Demolition Man”. And “Synchronicity II” Live at the Oympia in Paris. I would have preferred the complete Paris Concert on 2CD.

Tim in Miami

If you saw the 57 and 9 tour (which was amazingly good), then you have heard most of the the arrangements on here. Cool on stage but nothing to preserve forever. The Dance remixes are an abortion.

Kevin

Sincere apologies if this has been mentioned before but the current edition of Mojo magazine contains a pretty scathing review. The review ends with the acidic putdown “My Songs is a 2019 version of a Top of the Pops album”.

Priceless.

Jules(Rules)

Abortion, or abomination? :-O

Michael

I agree with Paul’s wonderfully worded critique about “My Songs.” For me, the concept of an artist releasing an album of re-interpreted older material only works if…

1) a fast tempo rock song is redone as a slow tempo ballad-like number,
2) a slow tempo song is redone as a fast tempo rock number,
3) the instrumentation is changed (i.e. lead piano is replaced with lead acoustic guitar),
4) a heavily produced song is stripped down to a minimal arrangement or done solo,
5) a stripped down song is augmented by added or full orchestration; or
6) either the lead vocals or backing vocals are done by a different singer, or sung as a duet.

JMelrose

I wish he would have shaken whatever cold he had when we re-performed “Englishman In New York.”

Thilo

The freshest songs are “Brand New Day” and “Desert Rose”, both from the Brand New Day Album, which was released in 1999. Actually Sting did record nothing important in the last 20 years.

MusicFan

I’ve been listening to this (digitally) today and it has to be said this collection of songs is undeniably exceptional!

I appreciate most fans will prefer an album of new songs, but taking this project at face value, the versions contained here are great! I really like the new vocals on the tracks as it blends together perfectly the songs from different eras.

I’ve not received my CD yet to be check the booklet, but one reviewer mentioned a lot of the songs are live. If that is the case I presume they are ‘live’ in the syudio without any overdubs. If this is the case then this is a great way to test how great a song can be when it stands up on it’s own like this.

The only noticable tracks performed in from of an audience are the last five.

So at least I am one happy fan today!

TheProgster

Ok everyone including Paul let’s clear this up and actually confirm that Sting has only re-done in the studio on the deluxe edition and France Exclusive Edition altogether it’s just 11 songs, There are 9 live songs altogether across all the 3 CD releases from around the world, some of the old Police songs like Can’t Stand Losing You are not credited in the track listing as a Live version until you actually play the song and find that out, the same goes for So Lonely, Message In A Bottle, Walking On The Moon…This IS REALLY Bad and misleading so here I present to you the correct running order for this album as it should be and is also the way I have set it up flow properly on my MP3 player new tracks first then live stuff at the end it’s not hard to work out you guys at the record company…studio tracks first live next sounds all out of place with a loud live track right in the middle of some new studio versions…was this Stings idea? I doubt very much so.

1. Brand New Day
2. Desert Rose
3. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
4. Every Breath You Take
5. Demolition Man
6. Fields Of Gold
7. Shape Of My Heart
8. Fragile
9. Englishman In New York
10. If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
11. Spirits In The Material World (With Pato Banton)
12. Desert Rose (Extended Version) (France Exclusive)
13. Can’t Stand Losing You (Live)
14. So Lonely (Live)
15. Message In A Bottle (Live)
16. Walking On The Moon (Live)
17. Roxanne (Live)
18. Synchronicty II (Live)
19. Next To You (Live)
20. Fragile (Live)
21. I Can’t Stop Thing About You (Live) (Japan Exclusive)

Sven

You are so right. The original track listing does not make sense at all. Who’s been sleeping? Even with the alternate listing the whole effort is pointless and sounds like a mix tape put together by someone who is not that much into you.

Pádraig Collins

Brilliant review, Paul. The best you’ve ever written, I think.

Tim Joseph

Your review makes me think of Paul Simon’s In The Blue Light. Who in their right minds would have hoped he’d do this? It’s not like me knocked the originals out in an afternoon! Obviously being Paul Simon, the results weren’t embarrassing- and he seems to have done the opposite to Sting in making them LESS “contemporary”! All very polite, though curiously dispassionate, but not one track was improved. Hope he hasn’t cancelled Alternate Tunings!

Phil Cohen

By the time of The Police’s reunion tour, Sting’s voice was already past its’ prime. Half the songs were de-tuned to lower keys, and the songs that weren’t de-tuned had Sting struggling with (and often failing to reach) the higher notes. His last good album was “Mercury Falling”. By the time of “Brand New Day”, he was collaborating with French language rap artists. Yuck!

Marc

I understand the economic benefit of rerecording songs for monetary gain and have no qualm. However, it will be a hard sell to gain sync rights if the version you are selling is not what the client is looking for. Richard Marx has rerecorded nearly all of his material for just such purpose and many of these are improvements over the original productions hard to fathom, I know).

Regarding the Sting/Shaggy tour, they came through here (Phoenix) a while back and essentially played in a club, not even one of the smaller concert venues. The show sold out but I guess they chose to only play the small house here.

AndyG

I hear the next album will be called “Sting and Macca” in which they alternate singing each others compositions.
Can’t wait to hear Mull of Kint-ayo !! or Evry Bref Yoo Take!!
It will be released on Vinyl, CD, Cassette, Deluxe, Super Deluxe and Uber Deluxe editions, twelve limited edition coloured vinyls, 7″ box sets, picture discs and a massive “Sting and Macca” Super Uber Uber Deluxe numbered edition (of 50 only) containing everything just mentioned and more, 150 page hard cover book of the recording sessions with pics galore, posters, photos, stickers, scarves, marbles plus commemorative lockets of their pubic hair before it turned grey ! CANT WAIT !!
Tayyy OHH!

Gillies Neil

You can write in the booklet

Richard

On a positive note the collaboration with Shaggy is great – caught them at the Roundhouse last week and it was honestly one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Both of them were clearly enjoying themselves and didn’t want to leave the stage.

Daryl

Love the review Paul! :’D

I must say – I don’t mind when artists completely re-work old songs into a new style – sometimes they really work, and sometimes they completely backfire. Bryan Adam’s Unplugged is a good example of both – I’m Ready was restyled beautifully and became a big hit for him, whereas 18 Til I Die (violin solo anyone?) is best forgotten. But to re-record them ‘almost’ exactly the same seems utterly pointless. At least the violin 18 Til I Die was interesting (even funny).

DaveM

Brilliantly written review. Managed to cancel my order just in time. Will carry on caning the excellent new National album that I got last week, thanks to the SDE shop.

Peter

Every re-recorded compilation has the same effect on me: it seems the artist/band decide to enter the studio for one day and record a song after the other in one take, all good, no problems if there are some imperfections, expecially on the vocals.
60 minutes and the new album is done.

Actually, all bland and all boring.

andrew R

Paul very good very honest review of an artist whose ego
achieved take off years ago. I offer this, he has a large property portfolio
plus his estate in Tuscany which must cost a fortune to run , these recordings
offset and promote the only way to create income for an artist of his age.
Touring.

Peter Muscutt

Heard Sting recently on Radio 2, and have to say that, like McCartney, Bryan Adams and Bonnie Tyler, age has got the better of their singing voices. Time to call it a day in my book, go gracefully rather than subject us to mush like this that sullies a great career. I’m not a Sting fan but obviously know his songs, and this just sounds awfully Ill-advised and pointless.

Michael

Wouldn’t you know that going in though Paul? That the songs aren’t gonna be as good as the originals? I’m not a fan of Sting or The Police. The only one I still hear is English Man In New York.

We are similar age & it’s a case of diminishing returns being a fan of artists from 80’s etc. After a certain point it just gets disappointing. Which is why I like iTunes etc you pick & choose. Even with my favourite artists George Michael there’s a couple of albums I don’t care to listen to. Or Prince where I just listen to his first 10 albums.

I read an interview with Susan Rodgers Prince’s engineer. She studied music after working for him & the impulses from idea to execution are not as fast with age.

Newmusicmark

I remember when he did Don’t Stand So Close To Me 86. Now that’s the way you do it!

Wayne Klein

The old stuff isn’t selling because of streaming and because everyone that has bought it has it. E sell your old songs to old fans. Familiar but not.i won’t buy it but I’m sure someone will.

Alan Blevin

I was/am a massive fan of The Police and Sting’s solo career up to and including Mercury Falling.After that the muse just left him.In the 23 years since that album he has written one great song -Desert Rose- and the rest is lame greeting card music.
At this point it is best to pretend that anything he puts out just doesn’t exist.I am as likely to make the next great Sting album as Sting is.Great review Paul.

Jason

Just buy the new Howard Jones and get on with things. At least that’s a worthwhile project.