Sting is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its fourth solo album, Ten Summoner’s Tales, with a digital-only Extended Edition. The record’s title, first made available on March 1, 1993, is a semi-joking combination of the artist’s given surname, Sumner, and the summoner from Geoffrey Chaucer’s legendary The Canterbury Tales.
The 12-song Ten Summoner’s Tales album is featured in the 27-track Extended Edition along with 15 bonus tracks made up of B-sides, remixes, alternate takes, and live performances. Among the 15 extra tracks, 11 were not previously accessible for streaming or downloading. The album is also available in Dolby Atmos and was mixed by Robert “Hitmixer” Orton, a four-time Grammy Award winner.
Ten Summoner’s Tales altered direction from the personal sense of loss that permeated Sting’s platinum solo album The Soul Cages to give an uplifting and emotional discourse about testing the limits of love and making crucial decisions, both righteous and dubious. The catchy lead single, the ballad “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You,” shot to the top of the charts right away and deftly walked the line in its lyrical content between recalling specific things the vocalist had lost faith in and then contrasting them with a more upbeat, optimistic outlook on whatever the future may hold.
The country-tinged “Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)” could be the long-lost theme of a forgotten spaghetti western that pays tribute to the unique views of renowned filmmakers Akira Kurosawa and John Sturges. With Kathryn Tickell’s eerie Northumbrian small pipes and Brendan Power’s beautiful harmonica solo, the genuinely depressing “Fields Of Gold” endures as an otherworldly ballad for the ages.
While the acoustic-oriented “Shape Of My Heart” beats strong and true with the mystical, logic-seeking ruminations of the inquiring card player at its centre, the deceptively upbeat “Saint Augustine In Hell” boasts a bait-and-switch narrative break courtesy of David Foxxe.
Ten Summoner’s Tales was recorded at Lake House in Wiltshire, UK, an Elizabethan country home that helped the overall ambiance of the album. It was produced by Sting and Hugh Padgham. Moreover, Dominic Miller, the renowned guitarist who has worked with Sting on stage and in the studio for many years, is featured on the album for the second time.
Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, pedal-steel guitarist Paul Franklin, and returning keyboardist David Sancious are renowned topline creatives who contributed to Ten Summoner’s Tales. On Ten Summoner’s Tales, Sting performed all of the lead vocals and played bass, double bass, harmonica, and saxophone in addition to crafting the arrangements.
Ten Summoner’s Tales received six Grammy nominations in the United States in 1994, including Album of the Year. Ten Summoner’s Tales won three Grammys: Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male; Best Long Form Music Video; and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (for “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”). Ten Summoner’s Tales received three BPI Brit Award nominations in the UK, including Best British Album and Best British Video. Sting won the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist as a performer. In 1993, Ten Summoner’s Tales received another Mercury Music Prize nomination.