Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994

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Early in his solo career, Sting defined himself as a man of taste, choosing to work with jazz musicians instead of rockers. Inevitably, this meant he walked the thin line between sophisticated pop and adult contemporary, but he did it with grace from 1985's Dream of the Blue Turtles to 1993's Ten Summoner's Tales. Unfortunately, Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting doesn't illustrate what a deft trick he pulled off with that quartet of albums. Naturally, Fields of Gold concentrates on his hit singles, just like any other greatest-hits collection, but Sting's material sounds surprisingly tame in this context. Sure, there is a number of great songs here -- enough to state his case as a fine songwriter or to satisfy his casual fans. Still, these songs are safe choices and all share a similarly tranquil quality, which means the collection itself becomes a little monotonous. Nevertheless, Fields of Gold performs the necessary service of rounding up all of the big hits -- "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," "All This Time," "Fortress Around Your Heart," "They Dance Alone," "If Ever Lose My Faith in You," "Fragile," and an alternate version of "We'll Be Together" -- and offering them on one disc, which is reason enough to make it worthwhile, even with its flaws. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi