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on December 30, 2001
Those who didn't understand Sting's departure from the Police may finally get it when they listen to this album. Ten Summoner's Tales is an amazing compilation of 11 songs that really push boundaries with his musicianship while staying true to his excellent songwriting. The songs included on this album are both immerse and expansive, serious and funny and packed with melodies. While its message isn't as deep as his past albums, it shines in its authenticity, surely the best material he's ever played.
To draw you in the first song is the well-known pop song, "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You." It has an addictive groove and multiple layers of sounds and melodies. In that same vein is the other guaranteed hit, "Fields of Gold." Surely this song, in its somber mood and loving lyrics is more than just a pop song but a recalled memory of love. Something even the music video hit dead-on.
If you were scared of Sting's poly-rhythms in his other albums, you'll be terrified of this album. And too bad, some of Sting's best work is with the following three songs. He uses 7/4 scale before going into cowboy bebop in "Love is Stronger than Justice (The Munificent Seven)." The storytelling here is a simple but amusing story of seven desperados as they rescue a town and fight each other for the girl. 5/2 scale is heard in "Seven Days." The musicianship is worth high praise as mandolin and violins texture this song in its weird rhythm, making the 5 beats sound normal after the first chorus. Saint Augustine in Hell is the last of poly-beats, taking a 7/4 beat again. This song is a bit awkward, but a humorous romp with its tale of one guy's descent to Hell.
Sting's sense of storytelling is exercised in songs like "Love is Stronger..." and "Heavy Cloud, No Rain" where a warning tone rings over the stories of praying in vain for rain and suffering the consequences. To accompany this, the music is playful and upbeat, adding some irony to the stories. Also in a strong sense of storytelling is "Something the Boy Said" which tells the tale of shipfairers (a favorite subject of Sting's) and their upcoming doom in the high seas. Again, the music carries its subject flawlessly and is beautiful in composition.
To give credit to the other writers on this album, Dominic Miller's "Shape of My Heart" and Clapton's and Michael Kamen's "It's Probably Me" are excellent compositions in their own right. "Shape of My Heart" is a strumming tune and rivals that of "Fragile" (from Sting's previous album, Nothing Like the Sun). It's lyrics, again, are of a story of a gambler while its music is serious and fits excellently with Sting's vocal. "It's Probably Me" is totally panoramic, capturing its listener in a sea of music, of sorts, as it takes you through its love-song context.
To end the album, "Epilogue (Nothing `Bout Me)" is another silly romp, probably talking back to the media that surrounds him. He continually denies ever spilling his guts, no matter how much you search. Again, it's silly but it's also nice epilogue and come on... that ending rips directly from "A Day in the Life" from the Beatles with its instruments winding up scales in the end.
This album feels like a whole composition while the songs themselves are a greatest hits collection. Sting's mastery of musicianship and ironic, direct lyrics can not be denied as he safely takes tastes of all sorts and blends them into his romantic and freshly synthesized songs. This album is the pinnacle of Sting's work, not going too deep or too somber in message and being as high in his own standard as he'll ever get.
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VINE VOICEon July 28, 2003
Where "The Soul Cages" was dark and introspective, "Ten Summoner's Tales" shows Sting returning to a lighter mood, with plenty of wry humor and jazz musical touches.
The cover speaks volumes, with Sting juxtaposed toward a horse's you-know-what and the wordplay of "Ten Summoner's Tales" working on multiple levels, a) reminiscent of Chaucer, b) there are actually 11 songs, c) Sting's real name is Gordon Sumners (sp?).
Also, the photos are in bright yellows and golds and taken in an old church, cathedral or abbey, so Sting is in a different spiritual place than "Soul Cages."
"If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" could be spoken to many listeners. It could be faith in God, a lover, a friend, or humanity. It has a steady instrumental groove, nice melodic touch on the guitar, and well-performed vocal.
The musicians here mark a departure from the earlier jazz stars, with more sidemen, including Dominic Miller on guitar. There is a definite move toward the easy listening that has dominated Sting's work since the early 1990s.
"Love is Stronger Than Justice" is a darkly humorous play on "The Magnificent Seven" about seven brothers that save a town for the promise of brides, only to find there is only one bride.
"Fields of Gold" is one of Sting's strongest love ballads, with beautiful imagery, gentle strings and delicate woodwinds.
"Heavy Cloud (No Rain)" and "She's Too Good For Me" are harder-edged tunes with strong instrumental lines.
"Seven Days" is about a person faced with an ultimatum from a lover, and features Sting once again picking his own pocket for lyrics from "Every Little Thing..."
"Saint Augustine in Hell" is about choices of attraction, and features a biting narrative of those that reside in Hell. Music Critics!
"It's Probably Me" is a relationship song about learning to rely on someone and "Shape of My Heart" is a ballad that uses card suits and face cards as metaphors for life. "Something the Boy Said" seems like a "Soul Cages" leftover with the metaphors of the sea and soldiers.
"Epilogue (Nothing 'Bout Me)" is a fitting closer, with the narrator saying that you can make all of these examinations, but you'll still learn nothing, because he's really a simple soul.
Excellent, solid outing for Sting that holds up under multiple listenings a decade later.
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on October 12, 1999
The first time I heard a song by Sting was at the end of "The Professional" (Leon in France). When I heard the song, "Shape of My Heart" I knew I had to get the album. Once I popped the CD in my player I was completely overtaken by Sting's musical style. He has a real knack for making clever and innovative music that sets him apart from anyone else. Sting has a strong passion for the music he makes and it shows throughout this album. My favorite tracks are "Shape of My Heart" (of course), "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You", "Fields of Gold", "Heavy Cloud No Rain", "It's Probably Me", and "Epilogue (Nothing 'Bout Me)". After listening to 'TEN SUMMONER'S TALES', I can truly see why it was nominated for 6 Grammy Awards.
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on May 23, 2002
Ten Summoner's Tales is a companion to Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," in which he writes of a dishonest summoner. "Summoner" is also a play on Sting's real last name, which is Sumner. The album consists of a prologue, an epilogue, and ten tales, all of which are thoroughly enjoyable. (Note: The American version leaves out a song called "Everybody Laughed But You" and drops the "prologue" title from the first track. If possible, buy the European version because "Everybody Laughed But You" is a very pretty song.)
"If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" and "Fields of Gold" are the two big hits on this album. Despite their enormous popularity, both are outstanding songs. Sting reveals his talent for writing a good bridge in both: "I could be lost inside their lies/Without a trace/But every time I close my eyes/I see your face" in the former, and "I never made promises lightly/And there have been some that I've broken/But I swear, in the days still left/We'll walk in fields of gold." Truly amazing.
There is much wit in this album. A sort of country/rap influence is in "Love is Stronger than Justice," which by the way is the first song that ever got me into Sting, where his character insists that "ethical stuff never got in my way." Another good song for wit is "St. Augustine in Hell," where the character paraphrases St. Augustine's famous line by singing "Make me chaste but not just yet."
But the wittiest song on here is "Seven Days," which includes my all-time favorite line in pop music. The character is worried because his girlfriend is being wooed by a man who's "over six feet ten." He sings, "I.Q. is no problem here/We won't be playing Scrabble for her hand I fear/I need that beer"! I still laugh every time I hear that line.
This is an album in which Sting shows his genius without fear. Whether he writes a chorus called "food for a crow" or insists that "you still know nothing 'bout me," Sting is not one to be categorized or held down.
This is one of the finests masterpieces of popular music. Save yourself more of my ranting how wonderful it is and go listen to it!
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on February 27, 2006
Sting has always been at his best when it came to his more jazz oriented material, that's why this album is my favorite. He's also in top form when it comes to his storytelling lyrics. Each song contains a mini-story. Some more obvious than others such as "The Munificent Seven," "St. Augustine in Hell" (My second favorite song which is about temptation and the difficulty of avoiding it.), and "Shape of My Heart" which is my favorite song on the album. It's about unrequited love and not showing all your cards for fear you might lose.

The musicians he has on the album were called at the time the zenith of recording bands, and it's no surprise why. All of them; Dominic Miller, Vinnie Colliauta, and David Sancious, are perfectly flexible on theire instruments. The go from the straight songs like "Fields of Gold" to the more complex like the 7/4 time of "Seven Days."

Only one criticism: The version of "It's Probably Me," although I like it, isn't my favorite one. My favorite is on the Lethal Weapon 3 soundtrack or the Sting at the Movies compilation.

It's definately his strongest album and his best sounding.
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on December 13, 1999
Perhaps one of my all time favorite. In my humble opinion, this is Sting's most complicated and touching album. I remember going to see him three times on the "Ten Summoner's tales" tour, one day after another. I was not the same girl afterwards. I kept on listening to this album ever since. What truly astonishes me is the level of writing - not many musicians have the talent for lyrics like Sting has. The songs are cheerful, sarcastic, sad, bitter and witty all at the same time. Sting wants us to pop and see the world throw his eyes, and he does that by using his magnificent powerful words. Every Time I listen to "Fields of Gold" I can actually see the fields he is singing about, and I miss a heartbeat every time I listen to the sincere "If I ever lose a faith in you". Don't miss this true masterpiece.
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on May 21, 2004
This CD has stood the test of time in my collection and is still fresh and relevant music in general. Ten Summoner's Tales is an interesting play on Sting's last name, Sumner, but also invites a glance into your dusty copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales...The Summoner's Tale within proving that Sting has a very bizarre sense of humor (as if we couldn't tell that already.) I'll just let you look that up for yourself...it's not a story to relate in mixed company--at least not in modern english.
Many Sting fans proclaim this his best CD as each song sounds like a top ten hit yet none of them sound alike. He did have many popular hits off of this album but those that weren't played on the radio are equally as enjoyable.
I love Ten Summoner's Tales, yet it seems to be one of Sting's less experimental works. The bass fills my need to feel the music in my soul while the lyrics engage my mind and imagination.
--Probably the best CD I own.
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on May 17, 2003
Ok, it sounds corney, but it's true. I was in the Navy stationed in Adak, Alaska. Far, far away from family. That is, with the exception of the jerk guy I had just married. Anyway, I can remember listening to the cd over and over...I can still picture the sights and sounds of the incredible scenery that is forever imprinted into my mind... Somehow the songs managed to fulfill the longing of normalcy and happiness. Somehow, it was as if they "ministered" to me. I'm so glad I can still listen to these awsome songs from Sting, without the not so sweet memories of my ex-husband flooding my head.
I give this CD, as well as all CD's from Sting, 5 stars...
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on December 4, 2000
This version of "Ten Summoners Tales" is a must have for Sting fans owning a DTS decoder! Voices and instruments are crisp, use of surround effects is well done. As with all DTS audio CD's having good quality, evenly matched speakers is very important to the reproduction, but when it's done correctly there is nothing quite like hearing Sting slide across the room singing "Saint Augustine In Hell" or "Fields Of Gold". You must have a DTS decoder to play this CD and use a digital connection from player to amp/reciever.
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on October 11, 2001
First: This is a review of the DTS mix, not the content! I'm a big Sting fan and the songs are great! I must say, I received this cd/dvd with much anticipation of how well it was going to sound in DTS 5.1. I was dissapointed! The mix by Martin Pradler left me wondering, "What's the point of 5.1 if you use the rear channels unevenly". Obviously, any multichannel mix sounds better than stereo so, it appears to sound better. This cd actually sounds muffled and flat. Instead of a "Surround" sound you get a, somewhat annoying, smattering of sounds from the rear channels like Dolby ProLogic. Maybe, Hugh Padgham should do DTS 5.1 mixing.
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