Sumner's Tales: Sting talks...
"They've (A&M) been saying that now is the time to do a greatest hits. I actually resisted it, because in a way I was thinking, 'Well, is this capitulating Shouldn't I really just do another album' Then I thought about it, and thought about the 10-year landmark."
"The version of 'We'll Be Together' with Brian Loren seemed right at the time, so we shelved the Eric Clapton version. And listening back to it now, I think I like the Clapton version much better. For 'Fortress Around Your Heart', people with better ears than I have said that, sonically, it can be better. I mean, I don't have those kinds of ears - I only hear what I want to hear."
"Not all the songs were huge hits, but were very successful in the longer term, and became almost standards in my repertoire. I didn't want to do an album just of the hits. I wanted it to reflect more than that, to reflect my whole 10 years."
Review from Entertainment Extra magazine
Few performers who have been lead singers of great bands rarely transcend the greatness they achieved as part of the group. Ben E. King wasn't the same after The Drifters, Dion didn't shine as much without The Belmonts, and we all know how well Mick Jagger has fared without The Rolling Stones. But Sting - well, that's a different story. After a seemingly brief career with his "other band," Sting - ego in full bloom - carted off with his bass in tow to start anew. At first, it was a rough journey. The press hounded him about why The Police disbanded, when they would permanently regroup, and why his music didn't have the same edge as it once did. Since his Police days, there haven't been any masterful pieces like 'Every Breath You Take' or 'Ghost in The Machine', or have there Pick up 'Fields of Gold' and you'll understand "masterful" doesn't always equate with chart-toppers. That isn't to say this greatest hits package doesn't deliver. On the contrary. From 'When We Dance' to 'Fields of Gold', 'All This Time', 'Fortress Around Your Heart' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', this album is a testament to a stellar career. And unlike so many other "greatest hits" compilations, this one doesn't signal the end, but the first steps in the next phase of Sting's career. And it's well worth every minute of listening time.
Review from Q magazine by Jim White
There is one thing we all know about Sting: he's a joke. The source of a thousand comedy circuit gags, he's the one who spends his time trying to save things like the rain forest, the whale, the whippet. Sting, he's the funniest thing of all: a rock star with a conscience, the type of geezer who gives his fee for appearing in Hello! to a bloke with half a dinner service in his lower lip. And the other thing we all know about him is that Sting ain't what he used to be. In The Police he was a pop star, the best we had, a potent force delivering blistering reggae-tinged charts-friendly hits apparently to order. But when he lost the odd chemistry of working with a polo-loving drummer and a skirt-fancying guitarist, he blunted all his edge. He got into jazz, started surrounding himself with musicians, took himself seriously. All that stuff about turtles, hardly Roxanne, was it And what's more, these days to be half his age any girl standing too close to him would have graduated from university. This compilation, the cream of 10 years' milking of the Sting imagination, goes a long way to proving that received wisdom is no wisdom at all. This is Sting in he's-not-bad-after-all shock territory. True, unlike last year's The Police compilation (those charitable foundations clearly need a regular royalty injection), this is not a romp through the memory banks. Only about four of these songs wheedled their way on to the collective consciousness in the way 'Walking On The Moon', say, or 'Can't Stand Losing You' did. But oddly they are the piece's weak link. There's the depressed response to a failed marriage ('If You Love Somebody Set Them Free'); there's the political commentary rendered obsolete by the historical turn of events ('Russians'); and there's the ill-conceived stab at wholly un-Sting-like campery ('Englishman In New York'). It is in the rest that the album's strength lies, in the esoteric moments when, unusually for a middle-aged former charts-topper, Sting shows no fear of experimentation. 'It's Probably Me', 'They Dance Alone', 'Fields Of Gold', 'Fragile' cover every style from Andean pipes, through flamenco guitar and head-down funk to the blue-eyed bass-fired reggae where it all began, songs performed with the unimpeachable quality you would expect from a man who can afford the pick of the session crop. And as he goes, making his points about the environment and the duplicity of politicians and his affection for his loved ones, rather than being smothered by all that talent around him, his husky falsetto seems to develop its full melancholic charge. On 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', for instance, the voice is constantly on the edge of its register, about to be chased up and out beyond its range. The ultimately successful manner in which it is kept reigned in complements the mournful fear of the material in a way which a Stewart Copeland drum beat never could. Maybe, listening to that moment, there is something new we will have to add to the sum of Sting knowledge. This boy has got better with age.