From one spin of The Dream of the Blue Turtles, Sting's first solo release, it's obvious that for him there would be life beyond the Police. Teamed with a band of top jazz players, he presents his musical visions that had gone unrealised while he was still constrained by his former ensemble. In style and subject matter, it's a decidedly diverse collection of songs and the playing is excellent throughout. The love songs are mostly focused on endings or escapes, and it's quite possible to interpret much of the imagery in reference to the bitter break-up of the Police. Sting's concern with history and politics is in evidence: he makes a father's plea for sanity and restraint in the nuclear age, takes up for the UK's much-abused coal miners, and relates the savage stupidity of World War I to the destructive effects of adolescent heroin addiction. Songs that seem elaborately constructed and recorded contrast with others that are presented as one-take jams. Seen as a whole, The Dream of the Blue Turtles is eclectic, ambitious--sometimes pretentious--but altogether worth owning. --Al Massa
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