Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Russians" by Sting

Song#:  2589
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  58
Peak:  16
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Sting's first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, was a significant success that already boasted two Top 10 hits and the Top 20 third single "Love Is the Seventh Wave." To try and keep album sales going, this fourth single was issued out. The political-leaning track seemed to find an audience and it did well getting into the Top 20 just a notch higher than "Love Is the Seventh Wave." It was also able to get to #34 at Rock. The song extended the life of the album for a bit and eventually it would sell over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  I remember being flummoxed when I found out this song would be Sting's next single. Really? A political dirge concerning the Cold War? Then I was utterly flabbergasted when the dang thing made the Top 20. I can't remember exactly what was going on in the world at the time, but there must have been something that pushed this track along. Perhaps the video helped or that Sting was totally hot at the time and the Grammys were coming up (he had a few nominations). Or maybe folks just liked the message of the song. Whatever happened, I thought it was fine for an album track, but a bit heavy-handed as a single. It's one you never hear played now. Definitely a song of its time.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Sting wrote all of the songs on his debut album. However, this one had a bit of an assist from a person who had died back in 1953. When composing the song, Sting decided to incorporate the main theme from the "Romance" section of Sergei Prokofiev's 1934 Lieutenant Kij√© suite. The classical piece was actually music that was composed for the Russian film of the same name. Prokofiev was asked to do the score for the film, which was one of Russia's first with sound, and initially he said no. But after reading the story, he relented and decided to give it a go. The suite of music he created from the film ended up being one of the composer's most famous pieces. Sting was not the first modern pop/rock musician to utilize a part of the suite. In 1975, Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, issue a solo single titled "I Believe in Father Christmas." In between the song's verses, Lake incorporated a portion of the "Troika" melody from Prokofiev's suite. The song reached #2 on the UK chart and is a perennial favorite there.  2) Sting originally wanted to record this song in Russia. The idea was to reach beyond the borders and all the politics and connect with other musicians and perform together. He was hoping to record with the Leningrad State Orchestra. However, travel to Russia at the time was not easy and getting a recording done even harder. Eventually all the political bureaucracy became too much and Sting was unable to make it happen.


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