Sting: Dream Of The Blue Turtles

Dream of the Blue Turtles was Sting’s first album after leaving the Police. He recruited an absolutely smoking band from the cream of the jazz community: Branford Marsalis on saxophone and the late Kenny Kirkland on keyboards (from Wynton Marsalis’ quintet), Daryl Jones on bass (from Miles Davis’ band) and Omar Hakim on drums (from Weather Report), with Sting taking up the guitar duties as well as composing and singing.

Sting was taking a risk, leaving the Police at the height of their popularity by launching out on his own and taking the music in a different direction, including reworking some Police songs for the album and subsequent tour. The band swings hard, but puts their jazz training into a decidedly rock and roll context. With the exception of the title song, their isn’t any jazz on the album, per se. Branford even had a turn as a rapper on the tour.

Some of Sting’s most pointed political and social commentary come to the forefront in this album, especially in the Cold War-era song, “Russians,” “We Work the Black Seam,” and Children’s Crusade.” “Moon Over Bourbon Street” was inspired by Anne Rice’s “Interview With a Vampire.” The album charted 5 singles, including “Fortress Around Your Heart,” “Love is the Seventh Wave,” and “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free,” which is a more positive sequel to the dark stalker imagery from his previous hit with the Police, “Every Breath You Take.”

The risk paid off and Sting has enjoyed an extremely successful during the 25 years since this album came out. It also reaped some rewards for some of his sidemen. Branford Marsalis went on to a brief stint as the original musical director for Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show,” some movie scores and even a couple of onscreen roles, and hosted NPR’s “Jazz Set” program for several seasons, as well as continuing to produce several critically acclaimed albums. Daryl Jones toured with Peter Gabriel and then joined the Rolling Stones upon Bill Wyman’s departure. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Christopher Sandford. Sting: Demolition Man.