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The Soul Cages

103 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 22, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

The somber, personal Soul Cages is a testament to Sting's strength as a storyteller. Each song creates its own dark, lonely world with recurring themes of sea, ships, and filial love. The album opens with the wistful, virtually mist-drenched "Island of Souls," a tale of a shipbuilder's son orphaned by an accident who dreams of the open sea. Later, that sea becomes a prison for a lovelorn sailor in "Why Should I Cry for You?" Throughout, Sting dispenses with the conventions of pop lyrical structure. Saxophones, oboe, and Northumbrian pipes reinforce the folksy feel of the instrumentation. Arguably the best song on the album, "Mad About You" is a mystical ballad about a king who has everything except the woman he loves. Grand, elegiac, and allegorical, Soul Cages stands as one of Sting's most downcast recordings, and one of his most compelling. --Courtney Kemp

1. Island Of Souls
2. All This Time
3. Mad About You
4. Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)
5. Why Should I Cry For You
6. Saint Agnes And The Burning Train
7. The Wild Wild Sea
8. The Soul Cages
9. When The Angels Fall

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 22, 1991)
  • Original Release Date: January 22, 1991
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: A&M
  • ASIN: B000002GL2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,996 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Murzyn on November 30, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Starting this review, I intended it to be an ode to my most cherished CD. Instead, I simply cannot find the words. The rich tapestry of music and lyrics that enfold the listener defy description. Words that other reviewers have used, like "hypnotic," "poetic," and "beautiful" are right on target. This album takes you along on the artist's introspective tour of grief, love, and missed opportunities, and leaves you with a sense of peace and - if not understanding - at least contentment resulting from having the courage to undertake the journey in the first place.
You'll find everything here, from the sweeping "Island of Souls," "Wild, Wild Sea," and "When the Angels Fall;" to the heart-breaking "Why Should I Cry For You?;" the catchy "All This Time" and the harder, pop-ish "Soul Cages;" the elegantly simple acoustic guitar of "St. Agnes and the Burning Train" and the jazzy "Jeremiah's Blues, Pt. 1;" and the stunning depth of lyrics and imagery of "Mad About You."
Evidenced by my above descriptions, the music style swings from the sounds of Northumbrian pipes reminescent of the sea, to ensemble jazz, to solo acoustic guitar, to lush string arrangements. There's really something here for every music fan, but that fan has to be prepared for the overall somber tone of the album. This is my favorite album to listen to after the end of a hectic day, as it ultimately leaves you with a sense of peace. For sheer musicianship and sonic quality, this album deserves at least a listen. For the depth of involvement the music inspires in the listener, this album deserves a permanent place in any collection.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kevin P. Dolan on February 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD
...because it absolutely transcends the idea that it should be "ranked", among Sting's albums let alone everyone else's. I completely agree with the many people here who say this isn't just their favorite Sting album, it's their favorite album in their library. The first time I heard this album, shortly after its release, I was absolutely transfixed from start to finish. "Island of Souls" sets the scene, a story of childhood escapism and tragedy that is told as much by the mournful wind instruments as by the words. From there, the listener is taken on a tour of the various emotions and experiences that shape a man's life when he was born in a "workingman's home." Every song on here is utterly without flaws: I rank "The Wild Wild Sea" as the absolute pinnacle of what a songwriter should aspire to. It is perfect. I don't usually praise albums unreservedly, and my love for this album may just be a reflection of the state of mind I was in when I first heard it as a semi-tortured 17-year-old. But even today I find that its melodies and lyrics are timeless. And now that I'm kind of a grown-up, I understand the lyrics on a level that is more parallel to the original messages. It's just a perfect album.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By John F. Dorman on February 17, 2004
Format: Audio CD
After erasing doubts that he could float in a post-Police world with two solid solo albums, Sting entered a period of grief-induced writer's block caused by the death of his father, whose approval and affection Sting had always sought but never received. It took finally facing up to the ghost of his father, and making amends with him. This is what we see on The Soul Cages, a brilliant marriage of pain, regret, sorrow and finally emotional liberation. This albums reads and plays like a beautiful, sad novel; one that takes more than one read to really understand. With Sting's father as the main thematic focal point, Northumbrian Pipes open "Island of Souls," where the story of Billy and his shipbuilding father is told. This long elegy subtly displays Sting's musical prowess, with a strange time signature (classic Sting) and a dark, brooding vocal. Next is "All This Time," one of Sting's most popular songs. It also tells the story of a man and his father, and the gap between them, but it is veiled and never obvious. This album can be very mysterious and difficult to uncover, but it is most definitely worth the effort. "Mad About You" and "Jeremiah Blues" stray from the father/son theme, but provide more of Sting's brilliant arrangements and storytelling (Mad About You is about King David and his desire to be with Bathsheba). The next track highlights the emotional climax and despair of the album: "Why Should I Cry For You?" is by far the most moving song here. The depth of the lyrics (full of nautical references and symbolism regarding his father and he) will move the listener, and it is here that you begin to truly understand the struggle inside the songwriter. This song is so heavy that Sting has admitted he placed the beautiful instrumental "St.Read more ›
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "mxw991" on May 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Written at a time of great personal tragedy (the loss of his father) Sting's intensely moving autobiographical album is about as personal and intimate as you're likely to get from anybody, nevermind a major recording artist.
This album's reviews were always going to be fairly polarised. The combination of complex self-indulgent lyrics, self-referential melodies repeating through the tracks, and lush, expensive-sounding production was always going to be either hated or adored.
The opener - "Island of Souls" sets the scene beautifully, of windswept northern England, on the banks of the Tyne (Sting is from Newcastle) - you can almost see the mist on the North Sea rolling in to the shipyard, and the "workmen suspended like flies". The theme of northern England and water started with this song runs deep through the whole album, reaching its almost overwhelming crescendo during "Wild Wild Sea" (which has some of the horniest damn chords ever...). Catharsis is achieved during the fantastic "Soul Cages" where the overtone becomes decidedly Faustian as the narrator fights for his soul with "the King Of The Ninth World, the twisted son of the fog-bell's toll. In each and every lobster cage, a tortured human soul". It is during this track that the emotions run highest and the despair becomes defiant anger at the injustice of life. The track "Soul Cages" is surprisingly savage, and certainly the most aggressive track Sting has ever put together - the opening guitar-riff is stunning, giving the track pace, power and vengeance. The subtle refrain from the opening track returns, adding an almost concerto-feel to the album, bringing the story together.
Read more ›
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