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Marcello Carlin’s dismissal made me reexamine, as he often does, why I like a Sting concept album about whether it took his father longer to die than the album does to end. That’s Gordon Sumner for you: just when I think he’s earned the smarts he orders Branford Marsalis to bleat. I still own cassette copies of The Dream of the Nothing and Sun like the Blue Turtles or whatever, somewhere in my closet, as far away as a Newcastle dock. But his old band’s work remains as crisp as a new fitted shirt even if I’ve listened to Rush more often over the years; I’m especially keen on Zenyatta Mondatta and Ghost in the Machine, despite the latter’s drafting of Arthur Koestler to do heavy lifting on ponderous synth chords. Now I can say they were rather good at what they did, which is to bring fancy chops to songs mixed like punk rock; also, literary allusions that get refracted through the tempos and the sensibilities of a singer who confuses pretensions with allusions. Hence, the beauty of “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around,” an album rock radio favorite when I was a kid: a truism set to a beat one step from falling into chaos, like the rest of us.

Finally, it’s a pleasure to hear the sympathy between the players on Regatta de Blanc‘s title track, Ghost in the Machine‘s “Hungry For You,” and Zenyatta Mondata‘s “Shadows of Rain.”

1. When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around
2. Message in a Bottle
3. Omegaman
4. Driven to Tears
5. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
6. Walking on the Moon
7. Voices Inside My Head
8. Why Should I Cry For You
9. King of Pain
10. So Lonely
12. All This Time
13. Secret Journey
14. Wrapped Around Your Finger
15. Canary in a Coalmine
16. Fragile
17. Can’t Stand Losing You
18. Synchronicity II
19. Truth Hits Everybody
20. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
21. Hungry For You
22. Shadows in the Rain
23. Every Breath You Take
24. If You Love Someone, Set Them Free
25. Voices in My Head