Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Record label: A&M
Genre(s): Adult Contemporary, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, College Rock, Soft Rock
The guy has worked with everyone from Yo-Yo Ma to the Black Eyed Peas, from Miles Davis to Phil Collins, so a comprehensive Sting retrospective seems impossible. But over three CDs and one DVD, 25 Years tells a cohesive tale: the story of a career dedicated to constant renewal. Even on the hits, not every experiment worked (it's still unclear why there's a break beat in "Englishman in New York").
Celebrating a quarter century of Sting: The Solo Artist, the three-CD/one-DVD 2011 box set 25 Years is a handsome retrospective bound in a hardcover book. Some box sets are heavy on rarities, all the better to hook the hardcore, some are designed to be comprehensive but 25 Years follows a different route, choosing to offer a leisurely journey through the past, stopping at all the familiar points on a well-worn path. Not counting the DVD, which contains the final show from Sting’s 2005 Broken Music tour and is heavy on Police material (eight of the ten tracks!), there is nothing unreleased nor is there anything unexpected; some charting singles are missing but they’re the ones that reached the lower rungs of the pop charts or only popped up on rock radio (“Down So Long,” “Epilogue (Nothing ‘Bout Me),” “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot”), and the various stray songs and B-sides weren’t even in the running for inclusion.
Has any other artist in the history of rock and roll ever squandered as much good will as Sting? In the late 1970s, the schoolteacher/jazz sideman moved to London and co-founded the Police, who bridged postpunk, pop, and reggae over five hit albums in five years. Just as the band reached its peak in 1983, Sting embarked on a solo career that started out fairly dubiously and went downhill from there. Starting with The Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985, he traded the punk thrills of his original band for a self-consciously erudite jazz-pop that sounded like a man confusing the joys of a rock star with the duties of a schoolteacher.