The Soul Cages

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The Soul Cages
Studio album by Sting
Released 22 January 1991
Recorded April – November 1990
Studio Guillaume Tell, Paris
Villa Salviati, Migliarino, Italy
Genre Soft rock
Jazz pop
Length 48:10
Label A&M
75021-6405-2
Producer Hugh Padgham
Sting chronology
Nada como el sol
(1988)
The Soul Cages
(1991)
Ten Summoner's Tales
(1993)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly C[3]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (dud)[5]

The Soul Cages is the third full length studio album released by Sting. Released in 1991, it became his second No. 1 album in the United Kingdom.[6] The album was dedicated to Sting's recently deceased father who died in 1989. The Soul Cages is a concept album in which the songs are a reflection of his relationship with his father and how he felt after his death. It spawned four singles: "All This Time", "Mad About You", "Why Should I Cry For You" and "The Soul Cages". The title track won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 1992.

Overview and concept[edit]

The Soul Cages is a concept album focused on the death of Sting's father. At the time, Sting had developed a writer's block shortly after his father's death; the episode lasted several years, until Sting was able to overcome his affliction by dealing with the death of his father through music. The first song written for The Soul Cages was "Why Should I Cry for You", and Sting has stated the rest of the album flowed quite easily after that first hurdle was overcome. Most of the songs have motifs related to sailing or the seas (Sting's father, according to Sting's autobiography, Broken Music, had always regretted not becoming a sailor.) There are also references to Newcastle, the part of England where Sting grew up.

Album opener "Island of Souls" tells the story of Billy, the first son in a family line of riveters. As he watches the ships his father helped create set sail, Billy dreams of taking his father along with him to escape by sea; his dreams become more prevalent as his father is injured and given three weeks to live. "All This Time" chronicles Billy's desire to bury his father at sea. The middle section of the record focuses mainly on the town Billy lives in and its people, before the highly introspective "Why Should I Cry For You". Musically, a mournful Northumbrian Pipe motif at the end of "Island of Souls" returns to open "The Wild Wild Sea", where Billy loses his way in a tempest only to find himself steered to safety by the spirit of his father. In another fantastical narrative on the album's eponymous track, Billy's father is being held captive by a demonic fisherman, with whom Billy wagers his life in a drinking game in a bid to set his father's soul free. Finally, the album ends with the moody, slightly-enigmatic "When The Angels Fall", which serves as a final thesis on the Catholicism which so heavily influenced Sting's upbringing; particularly regarding his father's spiritual beliefs. Musically, the song acts as a full stop for both the album's content and Sting's own personal torment, with the song's fluctuating tonality finally resolving to a firm and secure G major, marking a return to “home” (in this case, the home key of the earlier, conceptually significant, track "All This Time”) and providing an overwhelming sense of acceptance, redemption and subtle-nostalgia; beautifully realised in the album's closing “lullaby” motif. The character of Billy is referred to in the third person for the first three songs and in the first person for the last three songs.

In an interview with Charlie Rose aired on 10 December 2010, Sting mentions that he is working on a "mood piece", a musical project and book in collaboration with Pulitzer winner Brian Yorkey. The work will be based on an album he released many years ago concerning the loss of his father, growing up in Newcastle and witnessing the passing of the shipbuilding industry there. He admitted being scared of the prospect of pulling it all together but expressed confidence in it working out. This project has since been confirmed as the upcoming musical 'The Last Ship': set in Newcastle during the 1980s and featuring new material composed by Sting. Although the project is in its early stages of development, playwright and collaborator Brian Yorkey confirmed Sting has already written a number of new songs for the project.[7]

Packaging[edit]

At the time this album appeared, the music industry was starting to shift away from using CD longboxes. Sting, a committed environmentalist, wanted to eliminate the amount of cardboard waste caused by the longbox. The original packaging was a fourfold cardboard case that could be modified to look like a longbox, and folded back into a jewel box sized CD package for home storage. In Germany, the CD was sold in jewel cases as well as longboxes. The cover painting was a commissioned work by the Scottish artist Steven Campbell.

Until the release of Symphonicities in July 2010, The Soul Cages was the only studio album by Sting not to feature a photograph of himself on the cover.

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Sting.

  1. "Island of Souls" – 6:41
  2. "All This Time" – 4:54
  3. "Mad About You" – 3:53
  4. "Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)" – 4:54
  5. "Why Should I Cry for You" – 4:46
  6. "Saint Agnes and the Burning Train" – 2:43
  7. "The Wild Wild Sea" – 6:41
  8. "The Soul Cages" – 5:52
  9. "When the Angels Fall" – 7:48

Some pressings erroneously list "Why Should I Cry for You" before "Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)". As of 2013 a part 2 of "Jeremiah Blues" has not yet been released.

Additional tracks
  1. "Vengo del sur" (Spanish Version of "Why Should I Cry for You") — Bonus track for Spanish edition
  2. "Muoio per te" (Italian Version of "Mad About You") — Bonus track for Italian edition

Credits[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "All This Time" (1991) – No. 5 US Hot 100, No. 1 US Mainstream Rock, No. 1 US Modern Rock, No. 9 US Adult Contemporary, No. 22 UK Singles Chart
  • "Mad About You" (1991) – No. 56 UK Singles Chart[6]
  • "Why Should I Cry For You" (1991)
  • "The Soul Cages" (1991) – No. 7 US Mainstream Rock, No. 9 US Modern Rock, No. 57 UK Singles Chart

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Austria (IFPI Austria)[9] Gold 25,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[10] Platinum 100,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[11] Gold 26,040[11]
France (SNEP)[12] Platinum 451,400[13]
Germany (BVMI)[14] Platinum 500,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[15] Gold 185,820[16]
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[17] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[18] Platinum 50,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[20] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Charts[edit]

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
Serious Hits... Live! by Phil Collins
German Media Control Chart number-one album
1 – 21 February 1991
Succeeded by
Innuendo by Queen
Preceded by
MCMXC a.D. by Enigma
UK number one album
2 – 8 February 1991
Succeeded by
Doubt by Jesus Jones
Preceded by
The Very Best of Elton John by Elton John
Swiss Music Chart number-one album
3 – 10 February 1991
Succeeded by
Innuendo by Queen
Preceded by
Cambio by Lucio Dalla
Italian FIMI Chart number-one album
10 – 22 February 1991
Preceded by
Het beste uit de Top 40 van '90 by Various artists
Dutch Mega Chart number-one album
16 February 1991
Preceded by
The Very Best of Elton John by Elton John
European Top 100 number-one album
16 – 23 February 1991
Preceded by
The Immaculate Collection by Madonna
Canadian RPM number-one album
2 March – 6 April 1991
Succeeded by
Road Apples by The Tragically Hip

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r19164
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". chicagotribune.com (Chicago Tribune). Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Browne, David (1 February 1991). "The Soul Cages Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Will, Chris (20 January 1991). "STING "The Soul Cages"". articles.latimes.com (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Robert Christgau review
  6. ^ a b Sting in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.
  7. ^ Michaels, Sean (2 September 2011). "Sting gets on board The Last Ship musical". The Guardian (London). 
  8. ^ The Soul Cages credits, discogs.
  9. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Sting – The Soul Cages" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Sting in the field Interpret. Enter The Soul Cages in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  10. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Sting – The Soul Cages". Music Canada. 
  11. ^ a b The first web page presents the sales figures, the second presents the certification limits:
  12. ^ "French album certifications – Sting – The Soul Cages" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  13. ^ "Les Albums Platine". infodisc.fr (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  14. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Sting; 'The Soul Cages')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  15. ^ "Japanese album certifications – スティング – ソウル・ケージ" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. 
  16. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  17. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1991–1995". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. 
  18. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Sting; 'The Soul Cages')". Hung Medien. 
  19. ^ "British album certifications – Sting – The Soul Cages". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter The Soul Cages in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  20. ^ "American album certifications – Sting – The Soul Cages". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  21. ^ "australian-charts.com Sting – The Soul Cages" (ASP). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  22. ^ "austriancharts.at Sting – The Soul Cages" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  23. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 20 October 2011
  24. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Sting – The Soul Cagesn" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  25. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  26. ^ "Album Search: Sting" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  27. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1991" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  28. ^ スティング-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック "Highest position and charting weeks of The Soul Cages by Sting". oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  29. ^ "charts.org.nz Sting – The Soul Cages" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Sting – The Soul Cages" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  31. ^ "swedishcharts.com Sting – The Soul Cages" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  32. ^ "Sting – The Soul Cages – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  33. ^ "Chart Stats – Sting – The Soul Cages" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  34. ^ "allmusic ((( The Soul Cages > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  35. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Jahreshitparade 1991". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 August 2010. 
  36. ^ "RPM 100 Albums (CDs & Cassettes) of 1991". RPM. 21 December 1991. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  37. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1991 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  38. ^ 1991年 アルバム年間TOP100 "Oricon Year-end Albums Chart of 1991" (in Japanese). Retrieved 1 January 2011. 
  39. ^ "Hitparade.ch – Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1991". Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  40. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  41. ^ "Billboard.BIZ – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1991". billboard.biz. Retrieved 24 October 2011.