Ten Summoner's Tales

Sting

A&M, 1993

http://www.sting.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/22/2007

Who would have thought that the bass player from 1971’s Ronnie Person Trio of the Princess Cruiselines would become an icon in the field of rock music?

The Dream Of The Blue Turtles released in 1985 found Sting exploring jazz-flavored rock. Nothing Like The Sunnbtc__dv_250 released in 1987 saw Sting leaning back toward his Police roots. The 1991 release Soul Cages found an introspective and serious Sting.1993’s Ten Summoner’s Tales is less focused than his three previous solo LPs, but also a lot brighter and less serious.

I don’t know if the title comes from the Summoner character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or is some play on Sting’s given name Gordon Sumner. What I do know is that Sting never settles into one musical style on this album, making the varied pieces consistently good and occasionally excellent.

I kind of wish Sting would have released a full-blown pop album. “If Ever I Lose My Faith In You” and “Fields Of Gold” are two of the brilliant pop songs of the 1990s. The former is one of Sting's stronger vocal efforts in memory because it allows the vocals to remain out front and ergo stretch Sting's voice out. “Fields Of Gold” was played to death by radio in 1993 but remains, however, just about the perfect ballad. It is a wistful love song looking back on love gained.

While “Shape Of The Heart” does not match the perfection of the other two it is still very good. “Love Is Stronger Than Justice” finds Sting in Police mode and is welcome within the diversity of this album. “It’s Probably Me” and “Heavy Cloud (No Rain)” find Sting in a jazz mood; I can picture Tony Bennett standing by a piano singing that latter tune.

Sting even experiments with various instruments. The use of organ, clarinet and strings all show a willingness to relax and experiment. As such, Ten Summoner’s Tales may not be Sting’s best album and is certainly not musically cohesive, but it may be the most fun to listen to. The variations are its strength and enable new pleasures with each listening.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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