…Nothing Like the Sun is the second solo studio album by English singer-songwriter Sting. The album was originally released on 13 October 1987 on A&M (worldwide). The album explores the genres of pop rock, soft rock, jazz, reggae, world, acoustic rock, dance-rock, and funk rock. The songs were recorded during March–August in 1987 in sessions that took place at Air Studios, in Montserrat, assisted by record producers Hugh Padgham, Bryan Loren, and Neil Dorfsman. It features a number of high-profile guest guitarists, including former Police member Andy Summers, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Hiram Bullock, and is generally regarded as the culmination of the smoother, more adult-oriented sound of Sting's early work.
On release, the album was received favorably by the majority of music critics and in 1989, the album was ranked #90 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". "We'll Be Together", "Be Still My Beating Heart", "Englishman in New York", "Fragile", and "They Dance Alone" were all released as singles.
It won Best British Album at the 1988 Brit Awards. In 1989 the album received three Grammy nominations including Album of the Year while the album's second single ("Be Still My Beating Heart") was nominated for Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
The title comes from Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"), which Sting used in the song "Sister Moon". He added that his inspiration for this was a close encounter with a drunk, in which Sting quoted the sonnet in response to the drunk's importunate query, "How beautiful is the moon?"
The album was influenced by two events in Sting's life: first, the death in late 1986 of his mother, which contributed to the sombre tone of several songs; and second, his participation in the Conspiracy of Hope Tour on behalf of Amnesty International, which brought Sting to parts of Latin America that had been ravaged by civil wars, and introduced him to victims of government oppression. "They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)" was inspired by his witnessing of public demonstrations of grief by the wives and daughters of men missing in Chile, tortured and murdered by the military dictatorship of the time, who danced the Cueca (the traditional dance of Chile) by themselves, with photos of their loved ones pinned to their clothes. "Be Still My Beating Heart" and "The Lazarus Heart" approach the subjects of life, love and death. Elsewhere on the album, "Englishman in New York", in honour of Quentin Crisp, continues the jazz-influenced music more commonly found on Sting's previous album, as does "Sister Moon".
The album's first single and biggest hit, "We'll Be Together" sported a prominent dance beat and funk overtones; it reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in late 1987 and even crossed over to the R&B charts.
The album also inspired a Spanish/Portuguese counterpart, the 1988 mini-album Nada Como el Sol. It featured four of the songs from the album sung in either Spanish or Portuguese, and in the case of "Fragile", both languages. The Brazilian CD edition of ...Nothing Like the Sun also contained "Fragile" in Portuguese ("Frágil") as the tenth track (between "Rock Steady" and "Sister Moon").
Three years after its release on both the album and in single form, "Englishman in New York" was remixed in mid-1990 by Dutch producer Ben Liebrand. Providing a stronger dance beat, as well as an extended introduction, the song was a hit in clubs and reached number 15 in the UK pop charts. The maxi-single also included a dance remix of "If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)" as a B-side.
Sting's most commercially successful solo album, it went on to peak at number one in three countries, including the UK. According to the RIAA, the record sold over two million copies in the US, and in the UK, the album sold over 300,000 copies, and was certified platinum. Worldwide, the album has sold over four million copies.
...Nothing Like the Sun was one of the first fully digital audio recordings (DDD) to achieve multi-platinum status. It is also Sting's biggest-selling album yet, with worldwide sales of 11 million copies as of 1997.
...Nothing Like the Sun has been praised by critics consistently. In a review for Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis wrote: "...Nothing Like the Sun represents [an] impressive growth for Sting. His voice is rich, grainy and more mature; his ideas are gaining in complexity; and musically he is stretching without straining. His mistress's eyes may be nothing like the sun, but on this fine new album Sting's intrepid talent shines on brightly." In 1989, the album was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties".
AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine cited the track "We'll Be Together" as a highlight, while praising the album as a whole, writing: "If Dream of the Blue Turtles was an unabashedly pretentious affair, it looks positively lighthearted in comparison to Sting's sophomore effort, Nothing Like the Sun, one of the most doggedly serious pop albums ever recorded." Erlewine added, "If Nothing Like the Sun runs a little too long, with only his Gil Evans-assisted cover of 'Little Wing' standing out in the final quarter, it still maintains its tone until the end" and noted that "it's one of his better albums." In a mixed assessment, Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot felt that Sting's "nuanced singing and literate lyrics" are "weighed down by ponderous music."
All tracks written by Sting, except where noted.
1987 – "We'll Be Together" #7 US
1988 – "Be Still My Beating Heart" #15 US
1988 – "Englishman in New York" #84 US #51 UK
1988 – "Fragile" #70 UK
1988 – "They Dance Alone" #94 UK
1990 – "Englishman in New York" (Remix) #15 UK?
Sting – lead vocals, bass guitar, guitar on "History Will Teach Us Nothing" and "Fragile"
Manu Katché – drums
Kenny Kirkland – keyboards
Mino Cinelu – percussion, vocoder
Branford Marsalis – saxophone
Andy Newmark – additional drums
Gil Evans & His Orchestra - on "Little Wing"
Hiram Bullock – guitar on "Little Wing"
Kenwood Dennard – drums on "Little Wing"
Mark Egan – bass guitar on "Little Wing"
Andy Summers – guitar on "The Lazarus Heart" and "Be Still My Beating Heart"
Eric Clapton – guitar on "They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)"
Fareed Haque – guitar on "They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)"
Mark Knopfler – guitar on "They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)"
Rubén Blades – spoken Spanish on "They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)"
Ken Helman – piano on "The Secret Marriage"
Renée Geyer – background vocals
Vesta Williams – background vocals
Dolette McDonald – background vocals
Janice Pendarvis – background vocals
Annie Lennox – background vocals on "We'll Be Together"
- "Ghost in the Strand" ("Englishman In New York" 7"/ Maxi Single)
- "Ellas Danzan Solas" ("They Dance Alone" Maxi Single)
- "If You There" ("They Dance Alone" 7")
- "Conversation with a Dog" ("We'll Be Together" 7"/ Maxi Single)
- "Someone to Watch over Me" ("Englishman in New York" 3-inch CD single)
- "Up from the Skies" (Jimi Hendrix cover with Gil Evans and His Orchestra, "Englishman in New York" 3-inch CD single)