Sting

25 Years

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Celebrating a quarter century of Sting: The Solo Artist, the three-CD/one-DVD 2011 box set 25 Years is a handsome retrospective bound in a hardcover book. Some box sets are heavy on rarities, all the better to hook the hardcore, some are designed to be comprehensive but 25 Years follows a different route, choosing to offer a leisurely journey through the past, stopping at all the familiar points on a well-worn path. Not counting the DVD, which contains the final show from Sting’s 2005 Broken Music tour and is heavy on Police material (eight of the ten tracks!), there is nothing unreleased nor is there anything unexpected; some charting singles are missing but they’re the ones that reached the lower rungs of the pop charts or only popped up on rock radio (“Down So Long,” “Epilogue (Nothing ‘Bout Me),” “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot”), and the various stray songs and B-sides weren’t even in the running for inclusion. What Sting, who selected this sequence himself, has chosen to present are the hits -- from “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” to “Desert Rose” -- supported by album tracks that are concert or fan staples. Not much of a surprise, yet the 45 songs, along with the photo, sketch, and lyric-laden book, do an excellent job of summarizing the spirit of Sting’s years after the Police. If you’re a fan, it’s a classy slice of nostalgia.

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