Tag Archives: Sting

Sting’s New Album ‘The Last Ship’ To Be Released September 24

StingTheLastShipPhotoNoTextCherrytree/Interscope/A&M Records is pleased to announce a new album of original material from Sting, entitled The Last Ship, scheduled for release on September 24, 2013 (internationally on September 23, 2013).
 
The album is inspired by Sting’s forthcoming play of the same name and explores the central themes of homecoming and self-discovery, drawing upon his memories of growing up in the shadow of the Swan Hunters Shipyard in Wallsend. His personal reminiscences illuminate universal truths – the complexity of relationships, the passage of time and the importance of family and community – to form an affecting, complex parable for our modern times.
 
The play, in which Sting has been creatively immersed for nearly three years, debuts on Broadway in 2014 and is a collaboration with Tony Award winners Joe Mantello (director; Wicked, Other Desert Cities), John Logan (writer; Red, Skyfall)) and Brian Yorkey (writer; Next to Normal). The Last Ship tells the story of the demise of the shipbuilding industry in 1980s Newcastle which had, for so long, shaped and overshadowed the city, its development, and its community.
 
The Last Ship album is produced by Rob Mathes (Sting, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Lou Reed, Carly Simon) and engineered and mixed by Donal Hodgson.
 
The Last Ship will be available as both a digital and physical release in two configurations – a 12-song version and a 2-disc deluxe version featuring 5 additional tracks. (The 12-song version will also be available on vinyl.) A super deluxe edition, containing 2-discs comprised of 20 tracks within special packaging, will also be sold as a physical product exclusively at Amazon.com.  AmazonMP3 will be the exclusive retailer for the 20-track, super deluxe digital edition.
 
All physical CD formats, including the vinyl edition, are now available for pre-order at Amazon.com: www.amazon.com/sting

80 artists tip their hats to Bob Dylan to benefit Amnesty International

Two iconic forces that have impacted the past 50 years – the life-saving human rights activism of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Amnesty International and the incomparable artistry of Bob Dylan – are being saluted by 80 musicians who contributed new or previously unreleased recordings to Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.

Chimes of Freedom is Executive Produced by legendary music executive Jeff Ayeroff and Julie Yannatta, who spearheaded Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur – a 2007 collection of John Lennon solo compositions performed by major artists including U2, Green Day, and R.E.M.

The collection is scheduled for physical (4 discs) and digital release in North America on January 24, 2012 through Fontana Distribution. It will be distributed internationally through Fontana International, a Universal Music company, on January 30.

Chimes of Freedom features a stellar and diverse group of artists across the generational and musical spectrum. The performers, including many of Amnesty International’s longtime supporters, range in age from teenage pop star Miley Cyrus, 19, to folk music legend Pete Seeger, who, at 92, records Dylan’s poignant “Forever Young,” with a children’s chorus.

The diversity of the musicians and musical genres – from rock, rap, hip-hop to pop, folk, country, jazz and blues — attests to Amnesty’s depth of support in the music community, the universal appeal of the core message of human rights, and the breadth of Dylan’s impact on culture. Almost every track on the album is being released for sale for the first time* – except for the title song, Dylan’s original 1964 recording of “Chimes of Freedom.” Seventy songs were recorded especially for this release – with the addition of a few previously unreleased recordings.

“This album is a powerful fusion of the music community’s respect for Amnesty’s life-affirming work and for Bob Dylan’s enduring brilliance,” said Ayeroff and Yannatta.  “We are proud to have worked with Amnesty to produce this remarkable project.”

In 1962, Amnesty International evolved from a one-year campaign to free political prisoners into a worldwide movement fighting for justice, freedom and human dignity; today the organization has more than three million supporters in 150 countries.  In March of that same year Bob Dylan’s debut album was released, launching an unparalleled recording career.

“Over the half century, Dylan’s art has explored and expressed the anguish and hope of the modern human condition,” observed Sean Wilentz, the noted historian, in the album liner notes.

“Bob Dylan’s music endures because he so brilliantly captures  our heartbreak, our joy, our frailty, our confusion, our courage and our struggles,” said Karen Scott Amnesty International’s Manager of Music Relations. “His words convey a depth of meaning that few artists can equal, inspiring us and always moving ahead of our expectations.  We at Amnesty International are deeply grateful to this legendary musician and to all of the artists who have contributed to this project.”

All of the artists, session musicians, arrangers, engineers, producers and recording studios worked pro-bono to support the human rights cause. Almost 30 tracks on the album were mixed gratis by famed engineer Bob Clearmountain. Bob Ludwig and Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering donated their mastering services. The album cover illustration is by Grammy Award winning artist Mick Haggerty. Eight tracks were produced or executive produced by Martin Lewis, who as co-creator/producer in the 1970s of Amnesty’s ongoing “Secret Policeman’s Ball” benefit series, instigated Amnesty’s outreach to rock musicians by recruiting and producing Pete Townshend, Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Bob Geldof and others. Executive Producers for Amnesty International are Helen Garrett, director of special projects, and Karen Scott, manager of music relations.

Through Chimes of Freedom, Amnesty International seeks to enlist support for its fight against censorship and attacks on free speech – whether involving artists, writers, musicians, political activists or bloggers. In this campaign, Amnesty is fighting for people such as the imprisoned Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in China, a scholar and human rights defender imprisoned since 2009 for writing about corruption and criticizing China’s political system.  In addition to purchasing the album at www.amnestyusa.org/chimes, supporters will find actions they can take to help individuals whose freedom of expression is under threat.

The Police in Tampa: Worth the wait and money but not the attitude

The Police

St. Pete Times Forum

Tampa, Florida

July 11, 2007

 

In all my years of traveling this great country of ours to witness music , I can hardly recall a single instance that can top the anticipation building in my belly during the 45-minute drive from Orlando to Tampa.  Indeed, the butterflies could have been caused by leaving work early under the guise of a plane flight to North Carolina for a cousin’s wedding  (which in all truthfulness was not until early the following morning), and the nagging voice inside my head screaming not to look at the car beside me stuck in Disney traffic because when I do it will surely be my boss. 

Granted, back in my hard touring days I lost several jobs and dropped plenty of classes for a good weekend of Widespread Panic.  But with age comes the realization that with a proper job comes stability you do not want to easily let go.  However, once we got past the theme parks the fear subsided and the joyfulness rang out. 

It was time to roll down the windows and punch on the gas, we were going to see The Police.  THE POLICE!

The band did not waste any time getting into the favorites, launching into the solid one-two punch of “Message in a Bottle” and “Synchronicity II” promptly after taking the stage at 8:48 PM.  A bit of Sting stage banter followed with what seemed like a forced smile.  They are early into a world tour and he is already sneering and generally looking down his nose at the crowd. 

For instance, I think we lost him during the third song, “Walking on the Moon,” where he prompted us to sing along but hardly any followed, and most of those dropped out by the 2nd chorus.  By the time we got to the medley of “Voices inside My Head” (way too short) > “When the World is Running Down” (way too long…it reminded me of a Dave Matthews show where he just repeats the chorus incessantly) Sting looked like he had thoughts running through his head of ‘this crowd sucks and it hurts to sing these songs.’

At that point I was reminded of the butterflies I had on the way to the show.  What if I had passed my boss on the way and I did not see him?  What if I did not have a job come Monday morning?  And, I realized Sting is thinking the same thing: "What if I can’t write another hit song?"  "What if I have lost it?"  It is probably why he agreed to do this tour; it is time to get back together with the old boys and see what it was that got me here in the first place.  Now, just four songs into the 26th show, he was regretting it.

One thing that worried me coming into the night was how a three-piece would pull off the horns and keyboard work that permeate Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity.  Would they use CDs or backing musicians?  Would they even attempt some of my favorite songs in the history of recorded music?  Then, I started looking over the set lists in the exclusive ‘virtual ticket’ (aka: more money) area of their web site. 

The Police are not known as a band to switch up the songs each night and they definitely had not been doing so in the shows leading to Tampa.  So, I had a feeling my ‘Murder By Numbers’ wasn’t coming and neither was the bust-out most forum posts have called for, “Tea in the Sahara.”  But what can you do?  The band released five full-length studio albums over five years (’78 – ’83) and had more hits than most do over a career three times as long.

Another common thread coming out of the early dates of the tour was that the band was not exploring enough.  They were keeping the songs tight and concise and not jamming at all.  Now, either the band was just getting warmed up or they actually do listen to their fans, because on my notes I wrote ‘Jam’ beside no less than four songs.  I even have a ‘Summers !!!’ beside “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.”

Copeland and Summers seemed into it the whole night.  Summers worked the stage more than Sting.  From Andy’s perch on stage left he would walk out front to solo during the extended portions of songs, and worked the back of the oval stage like a pro.  He spent more time actually looking at the crowd than Sting when he ventured near the cheap seats. 

I guess the long and short of it is that Sting’s heart did not seem into the show but Copeland and Summer’s did.  They seemed generally pleased to be out there playing these songs again and making these people happy, which is what they are paid to do:  provide entertainment.  It is not the crowd’s job to entertain the performers and we should not be made to feel small for choosing not to sing, but (gasp) listen.  We have spent endless years playing air bass/drums/guitar and singing Sting’s parts in our cars.  I think it is time he give us back half of the heart we put into those stoplight performances.

This is not all to say the show was a bust or the crowd did not enjoy it.  The majority of us were on our feet the entire show.  Really, the only negative I can bring up throughout the night is the fact that Sting’s attitude soured the mood of the hall.  The band seemed to be on the brink of launching the roof off the ‘Ice Palace’ several times but never quite achieved liftoff.  Of course we are all older and it wears on a body longer if you play “The Truth Hits Everybody” as fast as you did when you were still looking up at 30. 

The reviewers out there who seem shocked by those adjustments amaze me.  Why would a musician want to play a song exactly how they did it in 1979?  Ray Charles couldn’t hit the same notes he could as a kid, neither can Stevie Wonder, but nobody complained when they started switching keys, or certain phrasing, to allow for greater breathing control and to give the song some freshness.  Being on the road for close to two years and singing the chorus to “The Bed’s To Big Without You” over and over will have a much greater affect on your vocal cords than it did twenty some odd years ago.  Just as Roger Daltrey about the last time he was in Tampa (The Who had to reschedule their performance on the night-of because of a case of ‘vocal challenges’, according to the band’s web site).

The stage itself was a thing of beauty, although I think they stole the three gigantic screens bordering the top from the last U2 tour.  It does allow for maximum use of the venue, giving fairly clear sightlines all the way around any arena they will perform in over the tour.  Running the length of the stage, below the screens, was an LED display that was perfectly in synch with the music and gave a unique take on light design.

The best use of the stage, however, was Copeland’s percussion rig, which rose up behind him for the first time during “Wrapped Around Your Finger.”  When he scurried back to his trap kit and whacked the snare just in time the crowd went nuts with appreciation of his efforts.  At this point it was truly the “Welcome to the Stewart Copeland show,” as Sting said later. 

However, the bubble of anticipation was quickly burst with a lack-luster “De Do Do Do…” which went on way too long.  The only saving grace of this selection was the fact it was followed closely with a stellar “Invisible Sun” and “Walking In Your Footsteps.”   I even caught a “Synchronicity I” tease written during the Jam of “Walking In Your Footsteps” that proceeded “I Can’t Stand Losing You.”  Just as the crowd and the lights are going off the chain, the band leaves the stage signaling the end of the main set. 

In no way was the crowd going to let them leave without an encore and the band obliged with a solid “King of Pain” and “So Lonely.”  After taking a quick bow they were off and almost directly back for “Every Breath You Take.”  It is not one of my favorite songs and never has been, even before the radio took it to such lengths, but I have to say they nailed it and it was a pleasure to actually hear it live and not through some crappy car speakers.  Even though it is a song about a stalker, it is one that many people have danced their first dance to and I appreciate that moment and apparently so does the band.

However, the third encore was exactly what I had been looking for all night.  The fire that is captured so truthfully, and originally, in Copeland’s Everybody Stares:  The Police Inside Out DVD or 1995’s must-have Live CD erupted during “Next To You.”  If you want to know what one of the best trios in the history of rock n’ roll is capable of you need only check your bag for the encore at an upcoming show.  From mega-hits to hardcore favorites, it had it all.  If only the entire show had been played with as much heart it could have easily ranked in my top 5, alongside Copeland’s Rhythmatist Tour.

Almost exactly two hours after they took the stage we were out the door of the Forum, filled with joy from the musical spectacle but feeling abused by the ego lashing out from stage right.  If Sting’s attitude was worse during the band’s heyday, and by all accounts it was, I am glad I waited this long to see The Police and you should not miss a chance to do so yourself. 

 

Message in a Bottle, Synchronicity II, Walking on the Moon, Voices Inside My Head > When the World is Running Down, Don’t Stand So Close to Me, Driven to Tears > Jam, Truth Hits Everybody, Bed’s Too Big Without You, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Wrapped Around Your Finger, De Do Do Do De Da Da Da, Invisible Sun, Walking in Your Footsteps, Can’t Stand Losing You, Roxanne 

Encore:  King of Pain, So Lonely  

Encore 2:  Every Breath You Take 

Encore 3:  Next To You