There are some artists who can't escape their past, no matter how hard they try. Paul Simon is inextricably linked to Simon & Garfunkel. Robert Plant will always be the tousle-haired, bare-chested vocalist of Led Zeppelin. John Fogerty will never fully put Creedence Clearwater Revival behind him. And Sting, despite a prolific 30-year solo career, will always be compelled by certain diehard devotees to replay the Police. Of all those artists, though, Sting might be doing his best to distance himself from his earliest successes. A recent reunion tour notwithstanding, he has expanded his parameters far beyond the brash pop punk proffered by his former trio. Sting recently opted for big-band arrangements and orchestration to enhance his sound. But for every step forward, there has also been a glance in the rearview mirror, as illustrated by numerous live albums, the occasional Police reunion and various greatest-hits compilations. Of the last, the most recent, 25 Years, is also Sting's most comprehensive — an expansive four-disc CD/DVD box set released to coincide with his current Back to Bass Tour. Back to Bass? That's logical, considering that for all his instrumental embellishments, bass has always remained Sting's instrument of choice. But back to basics? That just doesn't seem likely for this adult-contemporary guru.


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