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4.6 out of 5 stars333
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Anyone who approaches this album wanting something similar to The Police or Sting at his most mainstream should probably stop looking at this item now and go and replay their favourite albums instead. However, if you are open minded for something different from Sting (and let's face it, the last few albums have all been "something different" and I would forgive anyone for losing patience with Mr. Sumner) and have a liking for either folk or theatrical music, then you may find much to please you here. "The Last Ship", for me, is the best piece of work that Sting has released for a couple of decades. It is very much a concept album, based on the Tyneside shipbuilding industry and the characters who populated it. Musically, it's generally quite a gentle album, but exceedingly rich with melody, interesting arrangements and instrumentation. Lyrically, it's outstanding; each track is musical storytelling at its finest and it's intelligent enough to give the listener food for thought yet accessible enough to recognise and empathise with the songs that tug at the emotional heartstrings for differing reasons.

Nearly everything on "The Last Ship" is superb and there are only one or two tracks which took me a few listens to be convinced of their charm. Nearly everything else was almost instantly likeable and my love for these eclectic collection of songs grew each time I listened to the album. There are many songs here that I would count amongst my personal favourites. "Practical Arrangement", for example, is probably the best song that Sting has written for many years. The powerfully emotive title track is superb (as well as the reprise), "August Winds" has a beautiful subtlety and "Ballad Of The Great Eastern" is folk storytelling par excellence. "I Love Her But She Loves Someone Else" is absolutely gorgeous and Sting is in particularly fine voice on this track, but it has to be said that he gives an absolutely excellent performance on each very different track. The special guests (Jimmy Nail, Brian Johnson, Jo Lawry and Becky Unthank) also work very well indeed on their respective songs and give the album the characteristic of having a rather versatile supporting cast of players.

I admit that this isn't going to be for everybody and it's the kind of work that polarises the listener - it's probably going to be either a love or hate reaction when you hear it. For me, it's a very genuine love for this heartfelt tribute to Sting's native North-East of England. I bought the deluxe version of the album which, for a little extra money, gets you an additional CD with eight more tracks, some of them different versions of songs from the album featuring other artists, some of them completely new songs; all of them are excellent (well, "Jock The Singing Welder" perhaps isn't quite as good as the others, maybe the only "ouch" moment on both discs) and are well worth the higher price you pay for the second disc. All-in-all, this is one of the most remarkable albums I have heard all year and I admire Sting greatly for having the courage to write and release something as different and unconventional as this; even if this isn't quite to your taste, it is difficult to ignore the creativity and artistry behind this project. It could have easily backfired and given his critics further ammunition, but I'm of the opinion that this is actually one of the best things he has ever put his name to and is certainly my favourite Sting album since the underrated "Mercury Falling" from way back in 1996.
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on 23 December 2013
this album is the best album ive heard in the last 20 years. this is stings best album its not really an album but the music from a play about the lives and times and conditions in the newcastle shipyards.
the lives the characters put together with jimmy nail. and others. please watch bbc
i player THE LAST SHIP.
a live performance with the most amazing ensemble you can see and get the flavour of this phenominal project.
please dont miss out on a once a lifetime experience to watch and hear a wonderful performance.
this is a story where you can appreciate a true wordsmith whose rhyme and use of words will not be surpassed.
i hope you enjoy this as much as i have. get the mp3 download as the cd version only has 10 tracks only half the story. the mp3 download has the full 20 tracks. hope this helps you make a wise decision.
many thanks. MICK COUSINS.
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on 1 December 2013
I have a certain partiality to Geordie accent, stories and locality. That's why I moved up here from London. I also spent some time working in a dockyard in Wallsend where Sting was born and brought up. So this CD was especially interesting to me. I particularly liked the songs "What Have We Got", "The Language of Birds" and "So To Speak" being very evocative of the area. And the title song "The Last Ship" especially so as I got to see the streets of Wallsend that back onto where the Swan Hunter ship building yards were and to relate to the idea of the ship gradually growing and blocking out the sunshine on the streets until it was launched and the street would be flooded with light and sunshine again!

Even if you have no affinity with Newcastle, you'll love this cd. I guarantee it!
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on 23 September 2013
It's quite an eclectic selection of songs yet united by the maritime theme. There are some very beautiful songs, typically thoughtful and sometimes profound. It's wrong to criticise if you're looking for a pop/rock album, it's just not that. It's hard to review properly because Sting 's vision is for a play but the mental scene is clearly set to great effect. There will be scoffing at Sting' s detour into his native tongue but I think it's a good piece of music not really intended for his own repertoire. At the end of the day I've found it strangely uplifting and I'm curious to see what the legacy will be. It's been playing all day in the van and while Sting is flawed, even by his own admission it's a sublime and strange bit of genius.
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on 23 November 2013
Yep you read that right. In my opinion this is the best album Sting has ever made. It so warm and passionately written. Sting sounds fantastic singing in his native Geordie. You can tell he is doing exactly want he wants and not letting anything influence him

Everyday since I brought this album I don't think a day has passed without listing to a song of it. To me a sign of a great album is when your favorite song changes. When I first got this I couldn't get enough of Dead man's boots. Now I can't get So to speak out of my head.

In a day and age when manufactured pop music dominates the charts this album to me was such a breath of fresh air. As you are unlikely to ever here any of these songs on the radio, I couldn't recommend anymore that you buy this album. I promise you won't regret it.
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on 4 November 2013
I saw Sting perform one of the songs from this album on TV and bought the album on the strength of one track. I have not been disappointed. This is a fabulous album and it gets played a lot. His now older, slightly raspy, voice suits the mood of the album well. Personally I think this is his best for some time.
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on 23 December 2013
I was somewhat apprehensive about buying this album due mainly to the negative reviews about Sting's northern accent; but I relented and I am glad I did because this is in my opinion the best album Sting has made to date. There is not a bad track on the whole album - with stand out tracks Practical Arrangement (a stunningly beautiful, sensitive ballad, with Sting in fine voice; August Winds; As Yet and The Last Ship. There was a programme on BBC 1 last night with Sting in concert in New York and presenting songs from the Play upon from which the music comes...............and it was absolutely superb - hope it comes out on DVD/BLU RAY soon. In the meantime I like this album so much I've decided to buy the Amazon Super Deluxe version - which in retrospect I should have done from the outset. A truly outstanding piece of work.
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on 8 January 2014
The last Sting record I bought (yes, it was a record back then) was the single Russians back in 1985. Since then, his constant sense of self-importance and piousness has kept me away from his going-through-the-motions feeling work.

However, all that changed when I saw him on Later with Jools late last year. The couple of songs he did then (August Winds & And Yet) made the hair on the back of my neck stand up - this was a simpler, more reflective Sting. He was using collaborators with similar geographical backgrounds to his own, and from the same place that my heritage stems from - the working class north east of England.

This isn't an album that's got marketable and chart-topping potential in every song - some songs are far too folk-sy for that. But what it does have is a wonderful narrative flowing through the whole album and a sense of reflection too - it's a very pleasing album to listen to and although there's sad times on it (poignancy highlighted by the Unthank sisters' haunting voices), overall it's a wonderfully uplifting record and one that will stand the test of time.

To those who are familiar with David Gilmour, I'd liken The Last Ship to Gilmour's On An Island.

Buy the album, get familiar with the songs and then sing along if/when the stage-play comes along later in the year.
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on 27 December 2013
This certainly not anything like Stings usual offering and whilst its on a different plain I find it offers something more for its listener. I was fortunate enough to catch his Concert on TV over the Xmas period and saw as this album unravelled and just had to have it. I am a great advocate of The Police and Stings usual solo offerings but this has grabbed my imagination and shaken it so hard that the experience was not just listening to something different but being involved in the story it tells of the dockers on Tyneside.

If you need to tag this with a genre I would say its closer to Folk music that Pop for it tells stories of life and what people face and that is the descriptor associated with pop music.

Buy it but be aware its an experience of listening and visualisation that will leave you desperate for some more, it really is Sting as we have never heard him before and I enjoyed this offering and really hope he will continue to write and sing with this style of conceptual visualisation. It is a truly a wonderful piece of art and I long to hear more.
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on 6 January 2014
Having watched this concert on television, really enjoying the eclectic mix of connected stories set to music and song, I decided the CD would be worth a punt! Stings charismatic vocals are still very much top notch, as are those of fellow gravel voiced "Geordie" Jimmy Nail. I would have given top marks, however the beautiful voice of Jo Lawry, who harmonized, and, on several tracks of the live airing sang duet with Sting, is sadly missing, this is unfortunately to the detriment of the CD.
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