Author(s): Paul Carr
Gordon Sumner was born in a mainly working-class area of North Tyneside, England, in 1951. Decades later, we would come to know him as Sting, one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Sting was the lead singer of the Police from 1977 to 1984 before launching a hugely successful solo career. In Sting:From Northern Skies to Fields of Gold, popular music scholar Paul Carr argues that the foundations of Sting’s creativity and drive for success were established by his birthplace, with vestiges of his “Northern Englishness” continuing to emerge in his music long after he left his hometown.
Carr frames Sting’s creative impetus and output against the real, imagined, and idealized places he has occupied. Focusing on the sometimes-blurry borderlines between nostalgia, facts, imagination, and memories—as told by Sting, the people who knew (and know) him, and those who have written about him—Carr investigates the often complex resonance between local boy Gordon Sumner and the star the world knows as Sting. Published to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the formation of the definitive line-up of the Police, this is the first book to examine the relationship between Sting’s working class background in Newcastle, the life he has consequently lived, and the creativity and inspiration behind his music.
“The author is eloquent in detailing London's musical landscape, noting both the pervasive influences of reggae's exotic appeal and the DIY immediacy of punk rock. While cynics may argue Sting disregarded his jazz background and embraced punk and new wave for purely commercial and financial gains, Carr highlights the cultural and musical implications of rock and rebellion in London during the late '70s / early '80s. The simplicity of punk stood as a reaction to the elaborate (and, occasionally, pretentious) ambitions of stadium rock. Rejecting the overproduced and over-polished grandiosity of bands such as YES and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, punk embraced a raw, accessible aesthetic more in line with its own working class' sensibilities.
Sting welcomed punk's energy by forming The Police, yet he never neglected his wider musical ambitions. Solidifying the trio with Stuart Copeland on drums and Andy Summers on guitar, the fusion of reggae verses and punk choruses heightened tunes like "Roxanne" and "So Lonely", giving the Police a distinctive edge against their contemporaries. Taking direct cues from quotes and interview clips, Carr considerers the scenario of Sting and his compatriots essentially acting as outsiders within their own scene of punk rock outsiders. The band may have brandished the requisite leather and beer cans in promo photos to own the aesthetic, but their sonic scope reached past the pub towards other countries and cultures.”
Andy Jurik – Popmatters (JC BookGrocer)