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The Dream of the Blue Turtles ()

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The Police never really broke up, they just topped working together -- largely because they just couldn't stand playing together anymore and partially because Sting was itching to establish himself as a serious musician/songwriter on his own terms. Anxious to shed the mantle of pop star, he camped out at Eddy Grant's studio, picked up the guitar, and raided Wynton Marsalis' band for his new combo -- thereby instantly consigning his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, to the critical shorthand of Sting's jazz record. Which is partially true (that's probably the best name for the meandering instrumental title track), but that gives the impression that this is really risky music, when he did, after all, rely on musicians who, at that stage, were revivalists just developing their own style, and then had them jam on mock-jazz grooves -- or, in the case of Branford Marsalis, layer soprano sax lines on top of pop songs. This, however, is just the beginning of the pretensions layered throughout The Dream of the Blue Turtles. This is a serious-minded album, but it's undercut by its very approach. And that's the problem with the record: with every measure, every verse, Sting cries out for the respect of a composer, not a pop star, and it gets to be a little overwhelming when taken as a whole. As a handful of individual cuts -- "Fortress," "Consider Me Gone," "If You Love Somebody," "Children's Crusade" -- he proves that he's subtler and craftier than his peers, but only when he reins in his desire to show the class how much he's learned. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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