This was an album that represented a very real risk. Sting had given up the safe option of continuing with The Police in order to go it alone. Summer 1984 found Sting in London working on his first new songs since the split of The Police. When friend and journalist Vic Garbarini visited him he found Sting working on a ballad about a vampire, a reggae-waltz that linked the Great War and heroin addiction, and a Slavic minor-key melody in a classical orchestration. There was also, he noted, an uptempo catchy tune called 'Set Them Free'. "Trust me," Sting told him, "It'll come together."
In January 1985, Sting went to New York to recruit a new band, enlisting Garbarini to help him. "First of all I need a keyboardist. That's the foundation. And I'll need a drummer, saxophonist, and maybe a trombone... and a bass player. I'll play guitar and dabble with the Synclavier a bit. I guess what I'm looking for are jazz musicians who'd be willing to play pop - and maybe stretch the boundaries of both." He quickly gathered the cream of the crop - Kenny Kirkland (Keyboards), Darryl Jones (Bass), Branford Marsalis (Sax), Omar Hakim (Drums), and Janice Pendarvis and Dollette McDonald on backing vocals. With very little rehearsal time they booked a short series of shows at New York's tiny Ritz Club, Sting's idea being "To put the band through a baptism of fire to help fuse our identity before recording."
The band, together with producer Pete Smith, assembled at Eddy Grant's Blue Wave studios in Barbados in early March to record the album. The first track to be recorded was an old Police song, 'Shadows In The Rain' which Sting wanted to record more in the R&B vein of his original demo. The waltz time 'Children's Crusade' followed, dragging some wonderful saxaphone playing from Branford, and then 'Consider Me Gone' - the latter helped by the band being pushed by the presence of the president of Guyana who was a surprise studio visitor.
Some in-studio improvisation led to the foundation of the tune that would become 'Love Is The Seventh Wave', and the next week saw the basic tracks for 'Russians', 'We Work The Black Seam', and 'Fortress Around Your Heart' also being recorded.
Only seven weeks after recording began, Sting was back in New York playing the unmixed tapes to A&M, and making plans to head to Le Studio in Quebec for final mixing. The album was released in June 1985 and quickly topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The success of the album, a successful solo appearance at Live Aid, and the subsequent world tour convinced Sting that the safety net of potentially reforming The Police was no longer necessary - he had not only a retained a fan base he had gathered another one.
Read about 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles' album, the songs that feature on it, the band that recorded it, the tour that followed its release and much more in our special feature at http://www.sting.com/features/blueturtles/index.php where you can also download some exclusive 'Blue Turtle' wallpapers for your PC.
Join us at Sting.com in celebrating twenty years since Sting's first solo release!