Bring On The Night

Sting

A & M Records, 1986

http://www.sting.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/23/1998

For the record: The record Bring On The Night spawned the movie, not the other way around.

Despite Sting's history with The Police, his solo career in 1986 was all of one album; to release a double live album seemed to be a strange decision. Whether it was ambition or arrogance, well, we could debate this for days. But whatever the reason, backed with a crack team of musicians, Sting produced Bring On The Night, a live set that left me wondering how he ever became a superstar with material so boring.

The backing band that the artist formerly known as Gordon Sumner put together for this reads like a who's who of modern jazz: Omar Hakim, Kenny Kirkland, Branford Marsalis, Darryl Jones, and so on. Sting's talents on the guitar are surprising, especially when he was best known as a bassist.

But when it comes to the actual music on nbtc__dv_250 Bring On The Night, there are only a few moments where everything seems to click for the band. Despite stretching out a little too far, the interweaving of the title track and "When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best Of What's Still Around," complete with a killer Kirkland solo and a rap (!) by Marsalis, the two songs do represent a wonderful merge of rock and jazz that isn't often heard these days. Likewise, "Consider Me Gone" is a pleasant surprise that is included on this set. (I did like the new rendition of "Tea In The Sahara" as well.)

Then, there are the near misses, such as "Children's Crusade" and the medley of "One World" and "Love Is The Seventh Wave". These are songs that aren't bad per se, but something in the performance just didn't click the way I would have expected them to. "Children's Crusade" is an emotionally-charged song that is delivered rather deadpan; a little more emotion in the vocal would have helped this song in a major way. As for the medley, two words: razor blade.

I would like to say there is a third category, complete failures, but only one song really falls into this description: "Demolition Man". After hearing all the jazz-tinged rock (or is that rock-tinged jazz?), to hear the band go balls-out is as big a shock as dropping a radio in the bathtub.

But while many of the tracks on Bring On The Night aren't bad when it comes to the music itself, the performances tend to do them in. It just doesn't feel like there is that much emotion in the playing and the singing a lot of the time. And when you're taking on such an ambitious project like this to really get your name out there as a serious musician in another genre, you can't take the emotional side of the music too lightly.

Sting, of course, would rebound from this less-than-satisfactory experiment with... egads, another double album, ...Nothing Like The Sun, an album I'll reserve comment on since it's been about five years since I pulled it out of the Pierce Archives. But Bring On The Night is an album I would have to recommend only for the diehard Sting fans. (If the movie is anything like this album, I'm really going to regret buying it on the used table at Blockbuster last year.)

Rating: C

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.