[October Sting] -- I thought about doing a more spooky theme for that rare occasion that the Flashback crosses paths with Friday the 13th, but I wasn't in the mood. But then I found that Sting's second solo album, ...Nothing Like the Sun, was released on this very day in 1987. That means one of my favorite records turned 30 today! This release finds Sting continuing the pop-jazz explorations of his fantastic debut album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985), but stretching his chops to mix in a little reggae and funk as well as some standard acoustic, rock, and dance elements. All five singles from the album charted, with two peaking as top 40 hits. The album peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and and #52 on U.S. Billboard R&B Albums. And if the songs themselves weren't enough to merit this album's place in my heart, then the story of how Sting named it surely would do the job. The title comes from from Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 130, which Sting had used in response to a wandering drunk who kept accosting him with the question: "How beautiful is the moon?" You can read that brief story in the November/December 1987 edition of Spin. And for this week's selections, you can read and hear more after the jump.
Flashback #1: "I don't take coffee, I take tea, my dear."
For the third single released from ...Nothing Like the Sun, Sting sings about an "Englishman in New York." He wrote the song shortly after Quentin Crisp moved from London to New York neighborhood known as the Bowery. It's a wry and jaunty little tune. But the lyric "I'm an alien. I'm a legal alien" has taken on new meaning for me since the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. It puts me in mind of a subject that has always been difficult, but has taken on a divisive tenor, particularly over the last year. And that is the subject of immigration. I make no claims to a higher wisdom regarding illegal, or even legal, immigration. But I do believe future generations will judge us according to how well, or how poorly, we address immigration policy. Another reason for including this video is the wonderful black and white footage taken in New York City.
Flashback #2: "For all those born beneath an angry star | Lest we forget how fragile we are."
The fourth single off ...Nothing Like the Sun, "Fragile" peaked at #70 in the UK. It doesn't seem to have charted well in the US despite getting frequent airplay. This gentle and ethereal tribute to Ben Linder, an American civil engineer who was killed by the Contras in 1987, melts my heart each and every time I hear it.
Flashback #3: "My love is a flame that burns in your name."
For the final Flashback of the day, I wanted something a bit more upbeat. And ...Nothing Like the Sun's very first single definitely satisfies in that regard. "We'll Be Together" hit #7 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but couldn't get beyond the #41 slot on the UK Singles Chart. The music video features street dancers, a mural painter, and Sting wearing a homemade sweater based on The Adventures of Tintin. Oh, and while Sting plays his own doppelgänger, he also performs some moves could be worthy of the Ministry of Silly Walks. Listen through to the end of "We'll Be Together" and see if you can identify lyrics from another Sting tune.
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!