Released after the death of his mother, …Nothing Like The Sun (Oct 1987) was another strong collection of songs, containing perennial favourites Englishman In New York and Fragile. Sting even got himself banned from Chilean radio thanks to They Dance Alone, a haunting song which resulted from his meeting with some of South America's "Mothers of the Disappeared". Also released was a mini-album Nada Como El Sol which featured several of the album's songs in Spanish, and which helped strengthen his popularity further in Central and South America. The world tour started in Rio's 200,000 capacity Maracana Stadium on the day that Sting received the body-blow news of his father's death. His new band included Kirkland and Marsalis, Delmar Brown, Jeff Campbell and Tracey Wormworth, with Sting content to sing, dance and play occasional guitar. In mid tour, the entourage joined the Amnesty International "Human Rights Now!" tour alongside Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel for several huge fundraising concerts.
Ever busy, when the tour finished he was looking for a new project, and found it with a starring spot on Broadway during late 1989 in Brecht's "3 Penny Opera", and the role of Macheath. Despite some savage criticism, the shows were popular and the show completed a three month run. Also at this time, visits to the Amazonian rainforest led both he and partner Trudie Styler to establish a charity, The Rainforest Foundation, aimed at protecting both the environment and indigenous peoples. This has proved to be no passing interest, with an annual all-star benefit concert at New York's Carnegie Hall helping keep the charity running.
Not all was well on the musical front however. The loss of both parents in quick succession had hit Sting hard and one of the world's most famous songwriters was suffering from severe writers block. Returning to his childhood memories for inspiration, Sting produced 1991's The Soul Cages. Jokingly referred to as a record for the "recently bereaved", the album was bleak but compelling. Depending on your point of view it was either impenetrably dense or his strongest work - only the listener can decide. The first single, All This Time, was deceptively poppy and Mad About You was also a minor hit, but the rest of the album was not radio friendly. Nevertheless the album still sold well, the title track collected a Grammy, and the live shows saw a stripped down rock band of Dominic Miller (guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and David Sancious (keyboards) with Sting returning to the bass. During the tour a very popular MTV unplugged session was recorded in New York and this was followed by a small acoustic gig at a Wallsend Arts Centre some of which was released on the Acoustic Live In Newcastle set.
Sting and Trudie Styler were married in 1992, and bought Lake House in Wiltshire, part of which was subsequently turned into a recording studio in time for the writing and recording of Ten Summoner's Tales (Mar 1993). As upbeat as The Soul Cages was downbeat, this was a remarkable album, and saw the emergence of a new, less earnest and relaxed Sting. Recorded in his home, the album was a major return to form producing instantly likeable tracks such as If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Fields Of Gold, Seven Days and Shape of My Heart. It also hinted at what was to come on later albums with odd time signatures and its mix of musical genres and styles. During the inevitable world tour he found time to record a Stateside number one by performing with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart on All For Love from the "The Three Musketeers" and to add another three Grammies to his ever increasing collection. Life was looking good, and the 1994 retrospective Fields Of Gold saw the release of two new tracks This Cowboy Song and When We Dance.
A significant part of 1995 found Sting preparing for a court appearance, against his former accountant who had misappropriated several Јm of his money, much to the amusement of the press without Sting even knowing it had vanished, but the second part of the year found him turning to writing for his fifth solo album, Mercury Falling. Released in March 1996, the album showed an increasing tendency for Sting to risk commercial success by writing to please himself and his band. Foregoing standard pop and rock fare, he was now writing country tunes such as I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying, bossa nova such as La Belle Dame Sans Regrets, gospel tinged material such as Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot and songs in devilishly difficult time signatures (I Hung My Head). It was clever, and much of it was good, but it was an even bigger rag-bag of styles than Ten Summoner's Tales. Some fans weren't sure if they liked it.
Sting was also becoming more noticeably involved in contributing songs to movie soundtracks - there was always a demand for Police songs, but in 1993 he had been approached to write the theme song for "Lethal Weapon 3", and duly complied with It's Probably Me. A reworking of The Police's Demolition Man followed for the film of the same name, as did the recording of several jazz standards for the "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Sabrina" soundtracks. Mercury Falling continued this trend with Valparaiso, which was used in the movie "White Squall". Puff Daddy's reworking of Every Breath You Take (in the shape of I'll Be Missing You) brought Sting's earlier work to the notice of a new generation, and to the fury of many Police fans he and Pras from the Fugee's reworked Roxanne in 1997. Further soundtrack contributions to "The Mighty" and the remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" followed, as did a cameo role in the British hit movie "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels".
The much anticipated Brand New Day album was released in autumn 1999 to a mixed reception amongst critics. This is a shame because Brand New Day was a tour-de-force. If Mercury Falling mixed genres, Brand New Day took it a step further - the title track was full of optimism and starting over, a true millennium message. The remarkable, arabesque Desert Rose featured the prince of rai music, Cheb Mami, Fill Her Up crossed country withgospel, Perfect Love…Gone Wrong included French rap, and Big Lie Small World was gentle bossa nova. The difference over Mercury Falling was that the songs were stronger and the music more confident. This was one of Sting's finest albums.
And what of 2001? The Brand New Day world tour continues throught the summer, as the release continues to Sting's most successful solo album. The inevitable Police-to-reform rumours will no doubt continue to surface periodically, but having survived the last seventeen years and successfully rebuilding their friendships, Sting's intention of "keeping that legend intact" looks to be pretty secure. Let's hope so.