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Symphonicities (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Given Sting’s far-reaching ambition and interests, it was merely a matter of time before he recorded an orchestral album, but 2010’s Symphonicities surprises by offering symphonic arrangements of his older songs instead of a new work. This is a canny move, for the common complaint lodged against rock-classical crossovers is against the quality of the material — think Paul McCartney or Billy Joel — a criticism that can’t be leveled here, as this is a selection of some of Sting’s best songs. By relying on his catalog, Sting has wound up with an album that is pop, not classical, in structure, but the sound of Symphonicities is surely symphonic, with “Next to You” driven by sawing strings instead of buzzing guitars. Occasionally, this changes the impact of a song, but rarely does it alter its intent; indeed, there’s a handful of tunes, like “Englishman in New York” and “When We Dance,” that feel unaltered in this larger setting. Naturally, it’s the Police songs that are changed most — “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” bears a sprightly yet dreamy arrangement, “Roxanne” trades its reggae rhythm for a languid, seductive lilt — and it’s also on these familiar songs where Sting’s engagement is palpable. He may not be radically reinventing these songs, but he’s certainly reinvigorated by this lush setting, and this energy prevents Symphonicities from falling into pretentious traps; it’s lively and fun, and it’s Sting’s most satisfying record in a long time.

Customer Reviews

Surprisingly Enjoyable

I am not usually a fan of this kind of thing. Case in point: Rod Stewart's entry into the arena of older-artist-does-symph/big band is even better than a feather when you need to bring something back up (the only trouble is that you have virtually no control). I am a fan of Sting's work both with the Police and solo and love classical music, but when I listened to the clips here I was somewhat put off. They did not compel me at all, even though we heard this concert performed in Las Vegas only a couple months ago.

But I purchased the album at my wife's behest and have been very pleasantly surprised. This sounds more like a true symphonic re-imagining of some of the best works of his catalog, rather than a contrived, My Fans Are Old Enough To Purchase This Sort Of Thing effort. Wonderfully high quality recording and mix, sturdy and full yet intricate arrangements, with an easy on the ears (and somewhat more vocally acrobatic) Sting. Some of the best works are the B sides or relatively unknown tunes, as opposed to the requisite Every Little Thing and Roxanne which sound just a little forced by comparison.

If this style is your cup of tea, then I believe you're in for a treat.

Enjoyed it!

I own everything and anything Sting or the Police have ever done so I bought this more to simply add to my collection (obsession?) but I found it better than just another rehash of old songs, worth the buy!

Fantastic effort

I bought this album the day it was released because I've been obsessed with Sting since I bought my very first Police album (Ghost in the Machine) more than a quarter century ago. I have always been impressed with how he reinvented himself after The Police broke up. Most times, I'm not big on 'greatest hits' albums unless it is an artist that I like but don't want to spend a lot of money on. It's rare for me to buy a greatest hits if I own the artists entire body of work. However, I'm thrilled that I bought Symphonicities. Not only is it the best 'rock w/ orchestra' album I've ever heard but the reinterpretation of these songs is quite refreshing. I have to say something special about End of the Game. I'd never heard this song (and whoever thought to put just "Prelude to the End of the Game" on Brand New Day should be fired) and it is, perhaps, the most heartbreakingly beautiful song the man has ever written. Is it a perfect album? No, it isn't but it is truly well worth the money. If you are a fan of Sting then this will just reconfirm what you already know--that the man is one of the most versatile and creative musicians of his generation.

Biography

Born: October 2, 1951 in Wallsend, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After disbanding the Police at the peak of their popularity in 1984, Sting quickly established himself as a viable solo artist, one obsessed with expanding the boundaries of pop music. Sting incorporated heavy elements of jazz, classical, and worldbeat into his music, writing lyrics that were literate and self-consciously meaningful, and he was never afraid to emphasize this fact in the press. For such unabashed ambition, he was equally loved and reviled, with supporters believing that he was at...
Full Bio