Ten Summoner's Tales is the fourth solo studio album by English rock musician Sting. The title is a combined pun of his family name, Sumner, and a character in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the summoner. Released today in 1993, it explores themes of love and morality in a noticeably upbeat mood compared to his previous release, the introspective The Soul Cages released in 1991 after the loss of both his parents in the 1980s.
Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE (born 2 October 1951), known as Sting, is an English musician and actor. He was the frontman, songwriter and bassist for new wave rock band the Police from 1977 until their breakup in 1986. He launched a solo career in 1985 and has included elements of rock, jazz, reggae, classical, new-age, and worldbeat in his music.
*Sidenote: I try to not post about hugely popular music/albums because everyone has heard them and know their stories. However, Mr. Sting excels on this. I think it’s his best solo album. Maybe because I saw the tour for this album).*
This album contains two US hits; "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 while "Fields of Gold" got to No. 23.
Ten Summoner's Tales was shortlisted for the 1993 Mercury Prize. In 1994, it was nominated for six Grammy awards including Album of the Year (losing to Whitney Houston‘s The Bodyguard), winning Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ("If I Ever Lose My Faith in You") and Best Long Form Music Video, while "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" was also nominated for Record and Song of the Year.
A laser disc and VHS of the album were released, containing live performances of all songs on the album at Lake House.
Review: Ten Summoner’s Tales
BY ANTHONY DECURTIS
After the searing catharsis of The Soul Cages (1991), Sting’s intensely private eulogy for his father, Ten Summoner’s Tales, seems like an intentional crowd pleaser (despite its title, lifted from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales): the former Police-man crafting hooks as handily as he has sold out arenas. But while his sixth solo effort boasts the smooth musicianship and sturdy melodies that have made him a megaseller, the album (fortunately) can’t help betraying Sting’s status as one of pop’s certified big thinkers.
For one thing, there’s the musical ambition, ably realized by a band that now seems capable of playing anything: “Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)” may initially sound countryish, but few country songs come in 7/4 time, and Sting’s forays into jazz complexity are evident everywhere. Then there’s the songs’ subject matter, a gnarly weave of ideas, jokes, mythic allusions and contradictory emotions. “Saint Augustine in Hell” grapples with lust; “Fields of Gold” is a folkish remembrance of things past that eschews sentimentality; “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” combines the love-song feeling of a first-rate pop song with genuinely felt metaphysical questioning.
In typically arresting voice — he remains a consistently riveting singer, easily one of the best on the contemporary scene — and sending his mind and heart places few stars risk, Sting proves with Ten Summoner’s Tales that even when he’s not going for credos, his abiding concerns are significant and moving.