A fitting Orchestra pairing
Sting should surrender his rock 'n' roll card: He's turned into nothing but asoftie
I have traced the genealogy of rock 'n' roll back to early recordings by Fats Domino and Hank Williams in the late 1940's, and — in a very unscientific study — concluded that no single rocker wussed out more over the course of three decades than Sting.
I mean, Rod Stewart has covered every song in the Great American Songbook in recent years and has better hair than Gisele Bundchen, but even he hasn't resorted to frilly thespian linens and seasonal albums so light and airy the melodies disintegrate before they ever reach the ear canal.
Most impressive is that Sting (who plays Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion tonight) fooled the masses into thinking he was some uber-cool Renaissance man even as his edge was being blunted.
In the early 1980s the name Sting was appropriate for the former school teacher, born Gordon Sumner, who bleached his hair and spiked it into porcupine quills and made rock 'n' roll his full-time gig. His name defined his band, The Police, who mixed rock and reggae to a razor-sharp point and took that formula into the mainstream in a way even The Clash never could.
In 1983 the album Synchronicity shot toNo. 1 in the land and bass heavy, harmonious singles like "Every Breath You Take" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" dominated MTV's formative years.
I couldn't stop listening (or watching) Sting sing these songs. I would point to Synchronicity as one of five pivotal reasons that sealed my destiny as music writer. My short-lived high school band even covered the songs, "Synchronicity II" when we played "live" (i.e. setting up instruments in the living room of my buddies house while his mom and dad clapped along).
When The Police disbanded I hung with Sting through his early, jazzy solo albums not realizing that his "wussification" had begun. It came to a head in 1993 with the release of Ten Summoner's Tales. Between the pompous, prissy title, the cover shot of Sting in a pondering, theatric pose in front of a castle-like settling and original muzak like "Fields of Gold," he lost me.
It's appropriate that Sting, 58, now plays with Royal Philharmonic tonight . His music now has much more in common with that magnificent orchestra than it does with The Police.
I'm sure that "Every Breath You Take" and (deep breath) "Fields of Gold" (yuck) will be lush and beautiful when backed by Britain's national orchestra.
Just don't go expecting to rock.
Sting (featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), 8 p.m. at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion