CD: Sting - My Songs Mr Sumner updates his impressive back catalogue... slightly


From The Arts Desk

Some say that every successful rock star's career can be divided into three phases. First comes the youthful exuberance. Next, there's mature experimentation. Finally, the artist goes back over everything he's done. That's where Sting is now. His last solo album was a homage to the Police, and now he's "re-imagined, refitted, and reshaped" a selection of his greatest hits. Or, at least, that's how he puts it. In truth, you'd need a magnifying glass to tell the difference between most of these and the originals.

You're not, for instance, going to find "Roxanne" rearranged with lutes. Nor are there any new or unreleased songs. Instead, we find a series of re-recordings and remixes. The Tantric One has teamed up with a trusty bunch of old collaborators and together they have conjured up a series of subtly alternative versions of songs. To be fair, you probably wouldn't have wanted to tamper with them too much anyway.

Ironically, the new recordings sound more like demo tracks. "So Lonely" has been pulled down half an octave, but guitarist Jerry Fuentes still manages to reproduce Andy Summers's guitar part note for note. "Message in a Bottle" is fractionally slower and a little gruffer. "Walking on the Moon" is most notable for how drummer Josh Freese manages to outdo Stewart Copeland's original stick-work.

The remixes are a little more varied. The least successful is "If You Love Someone Set Them Free", which has been fitted out with the kind of beats you might have heard in Ibiza in 1996. "Fields of Gold", by contrast, finds new depths in its more pastoral arrangement. And "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" has been made bouncier and brighter. There's also one live version, "Roxanne".

Of course, with so little that's new here many will question the point of this record. Partly, it's to herald a world tour and Las Vegas residency. Really though, it's just an excuse to revisit some great tunes. And why not.

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