As I fired up Spotify* to look for the album I wanted to write about, I spotted a new Sting offering just released digitally, titled Symphonicities. It promised to be a series of orchestral reworkings of classic solo and Police material, and temptation proved too great so I had a listen.
Now, as a disclaimer, I should point out that I am a massive Police fan, and a lukewarm Sting fan; I have all the former’s albums (and mostly on vinyl, for added anorakery), and I occasionally dip into the good parts of Sting’s solo material, which I find to be sparsely scattered through the decades.
Sadly, this orchestral offering was as good as my initial expectations; in short, it just doesn’t work. Tracks have been picked that don’t benefit from lush strings and brass in the slightest. Particularly galling is the version of Roxanne that, as far as my meagre words can describe, takes the original, shoots it in the back of the head, stabs it in the chest several times, violates its still-warm corpse, sets it alight, nukes it from orbit with several long-range missiles, then flattens the smouldering corpse repeatedly with a steamroller.
It’s that bad.
Look, Sting, I put up with your great white reggae efforts in The Police, I tolerated your solo jazz pretensions…hell, I even put up with your jaunty tap-dancing in Brimstone and Treacle. But your orchestral stylings just bring nothing fresh and exciting to the originals. It’s pretension of the highest order, quite excelling even befriending your plate-lipped rainforest chum Bono-style and becoming a charitable thorn in my side as well as a man with delusions of musical grandeur.
Now, what have we all learned from this faux-pas, class? That’s right, I suggest as a basic starting point you all go off and listen to a semi-decent greatest hits, then go and buy yourself Outlandos d’Amour or Reggatta de Blanc (though all the Police albums are worthy of being in anyone’s collection). And then we can forget all about this little mistake. Can’t we, Mr Sumner?
*And while I’m ranting, I should hope Spotify’s staff seriously don’t think Coldplay are a ‘related artist’ to The Police. Really? Really? Really?