Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Fields Of Gold - The Best Of Sting 1984-1994"
I know, I know, it's a greatest hits album.
But it's got two new cuts and a remix.
Very few artists have gone on to careers bigger than their predecessor bands. And on one hand we were rooting against Sting, because before he remade his personality in the last decade or so, he was so damn arrogant. Furthermore, we always love the original band with the original members, and the initial solo album, "The Dream Of The Blue Turtles," was not as good as any Police album. But "...Nothing Like The Sun" was better. Yes, it contains a great cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and "Be Still My Beating Heart" and "We'll Be Together," but the closer, the piece de resistance, is "They Dance Alone." In a world where too many artists go on too long, the seven minutes of this cut are never too much, the song wanders and builds, you feel the loss Sting sings about in the lyrics, but first and foremost it's about the feel. It's not a hit single, it's an album track, and it would be just as successful today, because it's just that infectious, it makes you feel your humanity, the range of emotions from connection to loss. That's what we love about our favorite music, it keeps us warm at night, with it we're never truly alone.
And "They Dance Alone" is on this compilation album. As are three other tracks from "...Nothing Like The Sun."
But there are only two cuts from the relatively disappointing "Soul Cages," the hit "All This Time" and a remix of "Why Should I Cry For You."
It's a totally different record. Hearing the remix you think you've never heard the original. The groove is emphasized as opposed to the atmosphere. There's too much on the original, it's like Sting is broadcasting from across the river, but the remix is positively up close and personal. And you enjoy hearing the original after becoming enamored of the remix, but really, the remix is all you need to know.
It's the circular groove. You're nodding your head from the very beginning. And you realize you're hooked when the almost minute long instrumental ending finally fades out. You have to hear that guitar again! You don't want to let go of that groove, it's like eating an endless box of chocolate cookies. But, "Why Should I Cry For You" does run out and you're so frustrated you hit the rewind button on your cassette player and try and find the beginning again.
And "Ten Summoner's Tales" was a complete comeback. It was even bigger than "...Nothing Like The Sun." It was lighter, and filled with infectious tracks. That's what you want in a lead off single, something like "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You." It radiates joy without being base, it's got an intellectual bent yet it's so simple. If you don't love it, you're an unreconstructed punk.
And then there was "Fields Of Gold," completely opposite in feel and tone, but just as memorable. Sting was seemingly throwing off these masterpieces without any effort, he was totally in the groove.
And then he released this greatest hits album...WITH TWO NEW SONGS!
You know, the new stuff is supposed to be a throwaway. But the two originals are utterly fantastic! And Sting had such faith in "When We Dance," he didn't stick it at the end of the album, but put it right up front!
"When We Dance" sounds like a combination of "...Nothing Like The Sun" and "Ten Summoner's Tales." It's heavy, but it's not distant.
And the track is slinking along, and then it changes completely, Sting sings with emphasis:
"If I could break down these walls
And shout my name at heaven's gate"
He's imploring. At first he was just telling his story. But now he's frustrated, he's trying to convince.
And then there's that magical moment, when Sting is singing "When we dance, angels will run and hide their wings," but underneath his voice is singing:
"I will love you more than life
If you will only be my wife"
Whew! It's so heartfelt, so genuine!
And the other original is "This Cowboy Song," which has a circular groove akin to the one in "Why Should I Cry For You," but with a ton more energy and attitude.
"This cowboy song is all I know
To bring me back into your arms
Your distant sun, your shining light
You'll be my Dog Star shining tonight"
That's all we've got, our personalities, our intrinsic traits, to win over our desire.
Sure, possessions will get you in the door, a big house, a fancy car, but we're all looking for something positively human, we don't want to be a prisoner in the arms of another, we want to feel comfortable, we want to feel desired and alive.
It's just amazing how Sting can encapsulate so many emotions in his songs.
He was almost too good.
But then he stumbled. "Mercury Falling" had no hits. He returned with "Brand New Day," which was as infectious as "If I Ever Lose My Faith," and then tied in with Jaguar to push "Desert Rose" over the top, but it was the last hurrah, suddenly there was no room left in the landscape for Sting anymore. He didn't lose his talent, but the doors were closed at radio and now, like so many of the classic rockers, he's given up making new music, it seems nobody wants it.
And that's sad.
But that's what it's like getting old.
But the records remain.
Even if you hated him back then, give him a chance now, if for no other reason than to hear the remix and the two new songs, they're as good as anything he ever did.