What does it sound like?:
Sting attracted much criticism in May when he released an album of remakes of fifteen of his old chestnuts. There were no deep cuts, the arrangements were largely unchanged, there was a tendency to replace the drummer with a machine and his new vocals, never his strong point, sounded more weathered. It all seemed a bit aimless except that it fuelled the inclusion of more Sting compositions on Spotify playlists and it provided a setlist for a world tour, as documented on this live album.
Outside of the studio with a proper drummer, Josh Freese, two guitarists, Dominic Miller and Rufus Miller, Shane Sagar on harmonica, Kevon Webster on keyboards and Gene Noble and Melissa Musique on backing vocals, My Songs Live sounds like a straightforward live greatest hits package. The truth is, whatever you might think of him as a celebrity, Sting has written some great, great songs. Message In A Bottle, An Englishman In New York, Brand New Day, Every Breath You Take and so on, as played by a professional band, simply roll by. Sting’s vocals are raspy and ragged but, at least, he has resisted the temptation to adjust them after the fact. On Wrapped Around Your Finger, for some strange reason, he decides not to pronounce any of the consonants. Anyone would think he doesn’t want people to make out the words. The recording is pretty basic but both the audience and the band seem to be enjoying themselves, although we could do with a bit more Shane Sagar to keep things interesting. My Songs Live is a lot more fun than My Songs the studio album. It’s also four songs shorter.
These days physical product is designed to promote tours which is where major artists make the real money. This live album does give the impression that a Sting gig is worth attending. He certainly has a large selection of good songs to choose from and, judging by the cover photo, he looks healthy with lots of life left in him yet. There should be plenty more opportunities to enjoy him ‘in the flesh’ in the future.
Has anyone been an unqualified success when re-recording their old songs? Even the blessed Kate’s Director’s Cut is patchy. Paul Simon’s In The Blue Light has more good moments than bad but those bad moments are there. Some may see My Songs Live as just another cash-in but it works better than the studio album it’s derived from. It’s worth a spin.
What does it all *mean*?
Sting has the right to do as he pleases with his own songs and he will do exactly as he pleases with his own songs.
Goes well with…
Sting is best appreciated with a crowd of civilians.
8th November 2019
Might suit people who like…
Pop for the masses.