A&M/UMe celebrates the 30th-anniversary of Sting’s fourth solo album, Ten Summoner’s Tales, with a digital-only Expanded Edition released today. Originally released on March 1, 1993, the album title is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek mashup of the artist’s given surname, Sumner, and a character in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 15th-century literary classic The Canterbury Tales, the summoner.
The 27-track Expanded Edition features the original 12-song Ten Summoner’s Tales album plus 15 bonus tracks consisting of B-sides, remixes, alternate versions, and live performances (complete track listing included below). Eleven of these 15 bonus tracks were previously unavailable for digital download or streaming. Mixed by 4-time Grammy Award winning Robert “Hitmixer” Orton, the album is also available in Dolby Atmos.
Pivoting from the deeply personal sense of loss that permeated Sting’s platinum solo album The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales changed course to offer an uplifting and emotional treatise on testing the boundaries of love and making critical choices, both virtuous and suspect. The infectious lead single, the ballad “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You,” became an immediate chart hit and cleverly walked the lyrical tightrope between recounting specific subjects the vocalist had stopped believing in and then countering them with a more encouraging optimistic worldview about whatever the future may hold. Meanwhile, the country-tinged “Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)” could serve as the long-lost theme to an obscure Spaghetti Western that pays equal homage to the singular visions of noted directors Akira Kurosawa and John Sturges. The truly melancholic “Fields Of Gold” remains an ethereal ballad for the ages, featuring haunting Northumbrian small pipes played by Kathryn Tickell and a tasteful harmonica solo by Brendan Power. The deceptively jaunty “Saint Augustine In Hell” boasts a bait-and-switch narrative break courtesy of David Foxxe, while the acoustic-oriented “Shape Of My Heart” beats strong and true with the mystical, logic-seeking ruminations of the inquisitive card player at the center of its storyline.
Produced by Sting and Hugh Padgham, Ten Summoner’s Tales was recorded at Lake House in Wiltshire, England, an Elizabethan country house that added to the recording’s overall atmosphere. It is also the second time the artist’s longtime stage and studio collaborator, the acclaimed guitarist Dominic Miller, appeared on one of Sting’s albums. Other notable topline creative contributors to Ten Summoner’s Tales include returning keyboardist David Sancious, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and pedal-steel guitarist Paul Franklin. For his part, Sting played bass, double bass, harmonica, and saxophone on Ten Summoner’s Tales, creating the arrangements and singing all of the album’s lead vocals.
Ten Summoner’s Tales has been certified 3x platinum by the RIAA, topped the album charts in Australia, and peaked at No. 21 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album’s aforementioned lead single, “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You,” had a clear chart impact upon its release, ultimately reaching No. 17 on the U.S. Hot 100 and hitting No. 1 in Canada. It also garnered a trio of Grammy nominations in 1994, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and earned Sting a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. The album’s next single, “Fields Of Gold,” climbed to No. 2 on Adult Contemporary, No. 23 on the Hot 100, No. 24 on Mainstream Rock, and No. 24 on Mainstream Top 40. It was also bestowed with a BMI Pop Song Award in 1994. The album’s other four singles were “Seven Days,” “Shape Of My Heart,” “Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven),” and “Nothing ’Bout Me.”
In the U.S., Ten Summoner’s Tales garnered six Grammy nominations in 1994, including Album of the Year. Ten Summoner’s Tales won three Grammys: one for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; one for Best Music Video, Long Form; and one for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male (for “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”). In the UK, Ten Summoner’s Tales was nominated for three BPI Brit Awards, including Best British Album and Best British Video. Sting won the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist as a performer. Ten Summoner’s Tales was also nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1993.