On My Hard Drive: Sting

Yeah, you knew it would show up here sooner or later. I'm a pretty big Sting fan. His first album after the Police broke up was Dream of the Blue Turtles, and it's still in my top two or three Police/Sting Albums of all time.

With his first album, Sting broke away from the driving rhythms so loved by Stuart Copeland. (It has been written that during rehearsals, Copeland's drum kit would start out at one side of the room, and by the end of rehearsal, it had moved about 10 feet, just from him beating the crap out of it.)

Anyway, Blue Turtles went more to Sting's jazz roots, and he picked up some notable jazz musicians to help, most notably Kenny Kirkland on piano and Branford Marsalis on Saxophone.

The compositions are all wonderfully well written, and there are some surprises on the album as well. The biggest mind-boggler is the stunning cover of Hendrix's Little Wing. The original Hendrix recording is not much longer than 2 minutes, nothing more than an unexplored thought, some might say. Sting's cover of the tune is more than 5 minutes long, and totally does the original justice, if not one-upping it. I tried to find a video of that specifically, but could find none. So, you're going to have to go and spend .99 at the iTunes music store - money well spent without a doubt. It gives me the chills every single time I listen to it. There are some incredibly beautiful textures there, produced by things like Bass Clarinets, instruments one would not readily associate with a Hendrix cover.

Interestingly, Sting was about 20 years old, and was writing/playing for a jazz big band. At the time, he had been writing and arranging for the big band, at least one new tune per week for more than a year - his harmonic and writing skills were well honed. (This eventually became a major problem for Police bandmate Copeland's fragile yet large ego.)

The first large rock act he saw live was Hendrix. He described the experience as having the roof of his entire life blown off, and a new world of energy and possibilities opened up to him that night. He subsequently moved with his wife and little son to London, and met Stuart Copeland, a wild-eyed American 19 year old who beat the crap out of his drums, wore big sunglasses, had influential relatives, and had an uncanny ability to produce different tempos simultaneously in each of his four appendages. Their first recording was Roxanne, which Sting wrote, inspired by a Cyrano De Bergerac movie poster he saw on his walk home one night. The rest, as they say, is history.

This video is from the tour that was done in support of The Dream of the Blue Turtles album. This song is a little bluesy thing, not appearing on the album. The band had been arguing over money at the time, and this was put in the show as a lark. It's called Down So Long. Enjoy!!

No comments: