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Volume 4, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Sting adds life to old material on the intimate ' All This Time'


All This Time
**** (out of five stars)

A&M Records

By Nikie Johnson
Breaking News Staff

When a musician has been in the business for more than a quarter of a century, he can't keep singing the same old songs the same old ways.

On All This Time, pop music staple Sting, who started recording with The Police in the 1970s and has been a hit solo act since 1985, proves he can still keep things interesting.

The album was recorded live in Tuscany, Italy, on Sept. 11 in front of a small audience -- 200 to 300 people. It features a perfect balance of songs from his days with The Police to 1999's Brand New Day. Many sound significantly different than their original recordings, and all show off a fresh sound.

The album begins with a beautiful version of "Fragile" that's so smooth it's almost seductive. The track was set to go last, but it was moved at the last minute.

Sting's new All This Time finds the artist digging into his vast catalog to give fresh takes on classic songs.

Danny Clinch/A&M Records

Sting told British Radio 2 the album almost wasn't recorded because of the Sept. 11 attacks. But everyone agreed to gauge audience reaction after the first song. "Fragile" was chosen as the opener because of its message.

With a chorus of "On and on the rain will fall/ Like tears from a star, like tears from a star/ On and on the rain will say/ How fragile we are, how fragile we are," the song perfectly encapsulated the lessons learned that day. The album, and especially that song, was dedicated to the victims of the tragedy.

The album is distinctly more jazzy than most of Sting's original recordings. The music reaches such an intense pitch on the title track that one might expect a gospel choir to start singing backup.

Sting reminds listeners of his ability to hold an audience captive a third of the way into the album. Aided by some beautiful cello instrumentation, All This Time reaches its peak with a haunting version of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (originally recorded with The Police), the '94 ballad "When We Dance" and the album's only new song, "Dienda."

Sting gets back to the jazz with "Roxanne." It lacks the gusto found on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, but that doesn't keep it from being intense. Originally recorded by The Police 20 years ago, the song's new arrangement and percussion rhythm gives it a more modern sound.

The biggest disappointment on the album is its version of "Fields of Gold." It's one of his most beautiful songs, but Sting sings it in a very abrupt, almost staccato style at times, completely ruining the gentle flow that made the original almost hypnotic.

The album does end on a high note: "Every Breath You Take" is a classic he brightens up a bit here. It's a bit disconcerting to hear an eerie song about a suspicious lover sung so cheerfully -- but only if you listen too hard.

The song would have sounded great in the same haunting style used on "Don't Stand So Close to Me," but the album closer needed to be upbeat. This album was more somber than it was intended to be, but some of the more joyful songs were cut (including "Englishman in New York").

The 15-track disc has many other jewels. "Perfect Love Gone Wrong," "The Hounds of Winter," "Moon Over Bourbon Street" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" are all standouts from a solid collection.

With a live recording, set in such an intimate atmosphere, Sting's musical genius comes though in a way that can't be heard on a studio cut or in a large concert venue. He's been successful for more than 25 years. With All This Time he shows why.

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