19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2001
A conceptual masterpiece, "Ten Summoner's Tales" must surely rank as the definitive Sting album. We're all familiar with the rathermore stereotypical Sting tunes, like "Englishman in New York" and his more recent releases. However, despite a prominent re-assertion into the otherwise painfully turgid pop world of today - something for which Sting must be congratulated - one wonders if he will ever again reach the musical heights achieved on this album.
The successor to the morbid "The Soul Cages", an album excessively derided by the critics, "Ten Summoner's Tales" turned the tables for Sting and showcased his skills as one of the most talented musicians anywhere. Armed with a trio of infallible session musicians, (drummers might like to note Vinnie Colaiuta's inimitable contribution here) Sting set about creating his most musical, listenable and amusing album to date.
The opener, "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" is a great pop song, carried along by an infectious groove, and accompanied by a simplicity which makes it instantly listenable. "Fields of Gold" provides a mellow mood, and is a firm favourite from the album. Other noteable tracks are the fantastic "Seven Days", the sublime "Shape of My Heart" and the moving "Something The Boy Said". Really though, there is only one way to enjoy this album, and no review is going to do it justice. So do yourself a favour, and stick in the CD player. After several listenings I'm sure you'll agree that this is the Sting album.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The title of Sting's fourth studio album (1992) is a play on his real surname (Sumner) and also on his profession as a teller of tales, albeit in a musical form. Despite the title, there are in fact twelve tracks, the first and last acting as prologue and epilogue, as if this is his version of the Canterbury Tales. Again produced with Hugh Padgham, the album for me is as good as Sting's first, `The Dream of the Blue Turtles'.
I can take or leave the jazzy-rock "Love is Stronger than Justice" with its hillbilly chorus and country & western slide guitar; the two-minute rocker "She's Too Good for Me"; the jazz-rock, Hammond-organ infested "Saint Augustine in Hell" (a bit of a plodder despite its pretensions to pomp); the gentle rock ballad "Everybody Laughed But You" (with some good guitar work); and the upbeat epilogue that is "Nothing `Bout Me", which feels like something Sinatra would croon to during an evening.
Far better are the opening "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" (another well-written and well-sung pop-rock love song); the blues stomper "Heavy Cloud, No Rain" with its wonderful guitar solo; the rousing "Seven Days" with its pizzicato strings and clever chorus; the atmospheric "It's Probably Me", music for a 1960s spy movie with its lone trumpet in the night; the meditation on playing-cards and war - `the sacred geometry of chance' - that is "Shape of My Heart"; and the well-told and well-sung story in "Something the Boy Said".
But the icing on this cake has got to be Sting's "Fields of Gold". An introduction of evocatively sustained chords, followed by a jangly guitar sounding visually like the morning sun shining through green leaves, leads to the sound of Northumbrian pipes. Beautifully atmospheric lyrics add support to my belief that Sting is strongest in music of love and relationships with a definitively English sound.
This has got to be one of my favourite Sting albums.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 1999
One of those very few albums where every song is great! Verymellow tunes and easy to get lost in thought whilst listening to it. Great soft songs to listen to curled up on the sofa on a rainy day! Sting has a very expressive voice in most of the tracks - you can tell he is singing about something real and not just making up a nice tune to make money! One thing about this album too is that it hasn't aged. Although released a number of years ago, none of the songs seem old fashioned in style and it is still really popular.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Not being a very big Sting fan, although admiring most of his work with "The Police" I remember hearing the singles "Lose my faith" and "Fields of Gold" from this album on the radio and thought I'd chance the album... and I wasn't disappointed as it has remained one of my favourites ever since.
The stand-out track has to be "Shape of my Heart" which is a beautiful masterpiece, but there are some other classics including more narrative pieces such as "Love is stronger than justice" and "Saint Augustine in Hell" and the joyous fun of "Seven Days" which includes the great line "asked if I am mouse or man; the mirror squeaked, away I ran". Great stuff!
Definately not typical Sting and not a good intro to his lighter, pop abilities but still his best work represented here in the depth of lyrics, depth of music, atmosphere and oh I'm running out of words... just buy it and hear for yourself!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 1999
Opening track "If I ever lose my faith I you" sets the tone for the entire album and there is no let down from there onwards. "Fields of Gold" and "Shape of my Heart" are real favorites too. Sting has really established himself as his own identity after Police. His voice is superb and he continues his romantic streak. I love this album, it is very relaxing and I can recommend it highly to anyone.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2002
This is indeed a quite notable CD to come from any pop singer, and Sting carries it admirably. There are, of course, the two hit songs here, "Fields Of Gold" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You." But there's more.
First, there is the theme of the album which roughly parallels the idea of the literary classic, "The Canterbury Tales". Sting comes across as a modern day troubadour. The harmonica heard on most cuts adds to the atmospheric feeling.
Besides the two hits, "Love Is Stronger Than Justice", "It's Probably Me", and the epilog, "Nothing 'Bout Me" are my personal favorites. "St. Augustine In Hell" comes awfully close to being another one. This is course is subjective and each listener will have individual favorites.
Sting proves his versatility and his ability to interpret various styles by this set. And he shows that he's willing and able to occasionally step across boundaries. I recommend it.
on 29 July 2011
I've been a fan of Sting since I was a teenager and although of recent years he seems to have gone a bit medieval and classical on us, I do consider this album 'Ten Summoner's Tales' to be the very peak of his pop powers. As my original copy seems to have disappeared into the ether I decided to replace it as I apparently can't live without this album. From the hit 'Fields of Gold', since covered by a number of artists, through the genius of a man's indecision over a girlfriend 'Seven Days', the much sampled but never bettered 'Shape of My Heart' to the haunting 'Something the Boy Said', and the clever phrasing in 'Nothing 'Bout Me' that seems to be a prelude to cyberstalking on Google and Facebook, to the end track 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', Sting leaves this fan wanting more. Flashes of repeat chart success with following albums, but this remains my favourite non-compilation Sting album. I can't wait to have it on constant repeat in my car and on my iPod all over again :)
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2000
Criticisms about rain-forests, the acrimonious split from The Police, and the accusations of Sting's 'getting soppy' aside, Ten Summoner's Tales is a fatastic album marking a true landmark in the 90s and probably the high-point of Sting's individual career. The album is intelligently crafted and apart from Something The Boy Said (another criticism of war), the album is pre-occupied with love, lust, sex and relationships. This accounts for the overwhelming optimism of this album over The Soul Cages (1990) which was more melancholy in the face of personal traumas.
Personally, I think Seven Days epitomises the spirit of Sting. It is in 5/4 which should give the song a slightly jumpy feel, however the excellence of the session musicians and Stings singing mask this time signature anomaly. The song also shows a more tongue-in-cheek approach to courting, and at best must be the experience of many Englishman. "IQ is no problem here/ We wont be playing scrabble for her hand I fear/ I need that beer". The problems of vying for a womans attention when someone bigger is also trying (and succeeding) are the reasons why this song should remain a perennial favourite with the English male.
This being said, Fields of Gold is lavishly arranged, and yet sounds sparse, gentle and serene. The simple 4/4 clicks of the drums, the intricate Spanish guitar and the simple bass heartbeat under a lyric focusing on pure, genuine love (something all people crave)make this one of the publics favourite Sting songs.
Two other songs deserving specific mention are She's Too Good For Me and It's Probably Me.
She's Too Good is a funny glance at how men are fundamentally different from women. Sting focuses on smell, jokes, cooking, friends, drugs, etc, etc. The song expresses this amidst a very busy arrangement which sounds raucous and dynamic. Also note the amazing bass line which is as busy as the lyric. Yet whilst the song reels of a list of offences which make HER better than HIM, Sting queries in the bridge: "Would she prefer it if I washed myself more often than I do?/ Would she prefer it if I took her to an opera too?". And instead of an affirmative answer, Sting makes one of the most observant remarks about relationships EVER: "I could distort myself to be the perfect man/ But she might prefer me as I am". Ha ha. We're to love, and be loved warts and all.
The second half of the album is far more chilled and can soothe the roughest spirit. It's Probably Me is something of a gear change after Saint Augustine, but oozes charm and charisma. The guitar part is the most prominent tool in this, but the sensitive use of Strings and Synthesizers makes this one of the most intelligent albums of not only the early nineties, but ever.
Sting has encapsulated throughout the album something definitively British musically, despite the Munificent Seven (something from the wild west). And the lyrics are like a wise sage passing on advice to a younger pupil.
I could rave about this album for years, but suffice to say that each listening renders a new gem. Whether Sting will recapture this form ever again is doubtful, but then he is older and may view his optimism in 1993 in more cynical terms now. If there is one Sting album to own it is this one: Funny and Sad, Loud and Quiet, Passionate and Pensive, something for every emotion. But it should be remembered that Sting's current marriage is successful for numerous reasons, most prominently Tantric sex and that's a topic we're not educated about.
on 27 February 2008
No finer or more accesible poetry - this is the finest of all Sting's albums. Mercury Falling comes close, but his was his zenith. The whole album is superb, conjuring clear images and drawing the listener into each situation described. Shape of my heart remains unmatched by any track, ever, yes, EVER, by anyone. The combination of Sting's self-harmonising passion, poetry and musical perfectionism with Larry Adler's very soul (harminica)... mere words are not enough. If I could take a single album to a desert island it would be this. A single track? Shape of my heart.
on 25 September 2012
Music does not get better than this, be it in the Classical or the Rock world. It oozes love in contemplation and reflection. IT HAS SOUL in a souless world. The beautiful thing is that it touches us on that level. Beautiful, wonderful gem, timeless beauty, a matchless gift for anyone.
Cherish it, and feed the soul.