Monday, April 2, 2012

Sting 2: Bring On The Night

Around the same time as the Police hits album came out, Sting worked to promote a rockumentary about how his solo album came together. Bring On The Night, in his words, wasn’t designed to document the end of a band, like Let It Be or This Is Spinal Tap, but to celebrate the beginning of one, namely his. The fact that his “band” wasn’t intact past the tour behind the album they recorded was moot; he still took the opportunity to issue a companion album—A&M never too shy about the double live record—overseas. (It appeared on CD in the US ere long, which is why we’re covering it here.)
Culled from a handful of shows in Paris, Rome and Arnhem, Bring On The Night presents his new band—plucked nearly wholesale from Wynton Marsalis—playing his music with plenty of room to stretch. Selections from The Dream Of The Blue Turtles sit alongside recognizable Police favorites as well as some “rarities”. The title track gets a nice expansive treatment before sliding into a workout on “When The World Is Running Down”, with an excellent solo by Kenny Kirkland and a pointless “rap” from Branford Marsalis. “Consider Me Gone” fills time before a clean take on “Low Life”, an obscure Police B-side. “We Work The Black Seam” fades in mid-groove, making you wonder how long the band was vamping on it before the side kicks in. “Driven To Tears” starts out a little more subdued than the Police version, underscoring the futility in the lyrics in the wake of Live Aid, but soon kicks into a nice jam for Branford. “The Dream Of The Blue Turtles” is given a straight reading to show its complicated structure, but gives way to a lengthy jam on the one chord of “Demolition Man”; this too fades before we hear the conclusion.
It’s not enough to hire a bunch of professionals to do your bidding; they need to sound cohesive, and that comes through on the medley of “One World” and “Love Is The Seventh Wave”. (Clearly he’d picked up on Zappa’s theory of conceptual continuity.) “Moon Over Bourbon Street” wanders along to its inevitable finish, but it's soon forgotten in the wake of an amazing performance of “I Burn For You”. Hypnotic enough when The Police did it for that hideous soundtrack, here it’s given the tension and ambience worthy of its potential. “Another Day” was the little heard B-side to “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”; either the crowd was coached or they really did know how to sing along. “Children’s Crusade” and “Tea In The Sahara” aren’t pushed far past their known versions, but a blast of 12-bar blues, in this case “Down So Long”, makes a nice excuse to introduce the band.
Bring On The Night chalked up some nice import sales in the interminable days between missives from Sting. Looking back it was only about two years, and he had hardly disappeared, but perspective can sure illuminate where your mind has played tricks on you. Still, while the music world was beginning to wander the netherland between pop and hair metal, it was nice to hear guys that could, you know, play.

Sting Bring On The Night (1986)—3

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