TITLE: The Dream of the Blue Turtles
YEAR RELEASED: 1985
CHART ACTION: #2 US, #3 UK
SINGLES: If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (#3 US, #26 UK), Love Is the Seventh Wave (#17 US, #41 UK), Fortress Around Your Heart (#8 US, #49 UK), Russians (#16 US, #12 UK), Moon over Bourbon Street (#44 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I mean, that’s half the record up there, not counting “We Work the Black Seam” which was a German single.
LINEUP: Sting, Omar Hakim, Darryl Jones, Kenny Kirkland, Branford Marsalis, Dollette McDonald, Janice Pendarvis
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sting’s first solo album breaks away from the classic Police sound, going to a contemporary (and now dated) jazz-pop sound and feel.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: He’s serious, you know. Or not so serious, depending on the song. But mostly serious. From the mawkish pretensions of “Russians” to the reggae-lite “Love Is the Seventh Wave” to the easy-to-digest “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” Sting covers the gamut adding just a touch of levity once in a while into his very serious work.
The musicians Sting chose were very talented jazz musicians, but they added a very 80’s light pop jazz sound to the proceedings, which leads to a song like “Children’s Crusade” full of keyboard horns and soprano saxophones sounding way overproduced that takes away from the seriousness of the song. Also, there’s no reason that he should have revisited “Shadows in the Rain”, which the Police did in a very spare dub-like arrangement. Here, it sounds like an upbeat Matthew Wilder song – not really befitting the subject matter.
He still knows his way around pop hooks, and creepy-sounding love songs. It’s effective in small doses, but the dated sound and production makes it rather non-essential as a whole.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The musicians Sting used were all part of Wynton Marsalis’ band, so they knew their stuff.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: C+: A left-right combo of 80’s production and ill-fitting arrangements doom this to the ‘meh’ file. There is some good material, but the arrangements hinder your enjoyment of this. I exiled about half of it.