|Sting - ...All This TIme|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 20 November 2001|
I recently saw an interview with Sting -- perhaps it was Leno in HD one night, I am not sure -- during which he was asked if he ever got tired of singing "Roxanne." With his characteristically British charm and highly refined rock star persona, he looked down and then retorted, "It is my job to get up on stage every night and perform 'Roxanne' as if it was a brand new song." It is this type of old-school enthusiasm that makes Sting an endearing performer and songwriter today. He understands how to entertain as a true modern-day professional in the mold of icons like Tony Bennett or the late Frank Sinatra.
Sting is known for his live performances, yet adding to the emotion of All This Time is the fact that it was recorded in Italy on September 11, 2001. With a passionate Italian audience and a never-before-seen event to influence him, Sting took the stage for one beautiful performance. While I have anxiously awaited each Sting solo album since the days of The Police, All This Time represents new vantage points on truly familiar songs, with fresh arrangements and a highly talented and wide-reaching band.
The opening tune "Fragile" one can assume was specifically dedicated to those who died on 9/11. Clearly, Sting’s Brazilian jones shines through here with a sultry beat layered with whiny violins, a tasty chorus and a stunning piano arrangement. If this arrangement was in fact tossed together on Sept. 11, it is even more impressive. "Fragile" is the kind of tune that lends itself well to different interpretations, yet never before has this song sounded so good or meant more.
I found myself drawn to the less popular Sting tunes on All This Time. For example, "Perfect Love… Gone Wrong" takes a completely new route, with a loosely assembled groove featuring dangling call and response vocal chops with Sting and the trumpet player. Another lesser-known tune is "The Hounds of Winter," which develops nicely as a song that tells a story without interference from the band.
I give Sting major credit for reinventing his popular tunes for his live performances in the manner of the old crooners. "Don’t Stand So Close To Me" is given the VH-1 adult contemporary treatment, which made it a little too bland for me. "Roxanne" is better, featuring more Brazilian guitar and tasty percussion. The mix is wide open, glistening with audio goodness. The arrangement develops as the verses go on, which helps make one tired song sound fresh again.
Sting controls the cadence of the performance with savvy leadership. On "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," he artfully picks up the tempo and successfully lifts the mood of the performance. "Brand New Day" builds on that momentum and is a particularly appropriate song for that night. "Moon Over Bourbon Street" takes a last trip back to Jazzy Sting, yet the outro, perhaps an encore, "Every Breath You Take," sounds a little cluttered, as if it were a jam at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
All This Time is far from a pre-packaged "Best of" CD or a simple recording of a big-name artist for one of his Italian shows. Have you ever noticed that lots of live concerts are recorded in Italy? That is because we Italians can’t actually shut up at a concert and are willing to sing along with any tune that catches our fancy. All This Time is an excellent recording of a wonderful performance. There is an accompanying DVD-Video disc that has even more songs, more supplemental material and a surround sound mix. Hopefully, All This Time will be released as a DVD-Audio disc in a high-resolution surround version. Both the recording and the heartfelt performance demand such treatment. Meanwhile, All This Time is a worthy purchase on CD.