The 26-track Expanded Edition features the original 12 songs on the album plus 14 bonus tracks that consist of B-sides, remixes, alternate versions, and instrumentals.
Building on the momentum of his 3x platinum debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, ...Nothing Like the Sun tackled a litany of deeply rooted and profoundly personal subjects. As Sting reflected in the liner notes, “I look back on this album, and I realize that the record is about my mother, although I didn’t see it at the time. It’s about mothers and daughters, mistresses and wives, sisters... Every song has one of these themes. It surprised me.” Sting’s mother sadly passed away in late 1986, not long before four months’ worth of intensive recording sessions for the next album got underway in earnest at AIR Studios in Montserrat in early 1987.
As a result, ...Nothing Like the Sun, which was Sting’s first digital recording, is, for the most part, a subdued and reflective album with the exception being the up-tempo lead single, “We’ll Be Together,” an instant chart hit featuring Annie Lennox among its stellar background vocalists. Other key songs on the album showcased Sting’s development as an acclaimed solo artist. The quirky, jazz-inflected “Englishman in New York” tipped its bowler to English ex-pat and expert storyteller Quentin Crisp, while “Fragile” paid homage to an American civil engineer killed in Nicaragua by the Contras. Some of the album’s subject matter was born out of what Sting became aware of while participating in Amnesty International’s Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986. Narrated in stirringly vivid detail, “They Dance Alone” recounts the actions Sting observed of wives and daughters of certain men in Chile who were tortured and murdered by the then-military dictatorship. These wives and daughters would dance the country’s traditional dance known as the Cueca by themselves, with only photos of their missing loved ones pinned to their clothing.
Produced by Sting, Hugh Padgham, Bryan Loren, and Neil Dorfsman, ...Nothing Like the Sun featured a variety of A-list guitarists, including former Police-mate Andy Summers on the album’s moving opening track “The Lazarus Heart,” Hiram Bullock on the heartfelt cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” and the triple threat of Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, and Fareed Haque on “They Dance Alone.” Another notable topline ...Nothing Like the Sun collaborators include keyboardists Gil Evans and Kenny Kirkland, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and drummer Manu Katché. In addition to handling arrangement duties and singing all of the album’s lead vocals, Sting played bass and double bass, as well as Spanish guitar on “History Will Teach Us Nothing” and acoustic guitar on “Fragile.”
...Nothing Like the Sun has been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA, topped the album charts in two countries, the UK and Japan, and also peaked at No. 9 on the US Billboard 200. The album’s aforementioned lead single, “We’ll Be Together,” had a strong chart impact upon its release, ultimately reaching No. 7 on the US Hot 100. The album’s second single, “Be Still My Beating Heart,” was nominated for two Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1989, and climbed to No. 2 on Album Rock Tracks, No. 15 on the Hot 100, and No. 37 on Adult Contemporary. The album’s other three singles were “Englishman in New York,” “Fragile,” and “They Dance Alone.” In the US, ...Nothing Like the Sun garnered three Grammy nominations in 1989, including Album of the Year. In the UK, ...Nothing Like the Sun received the BPI’s Brit Award for Best British Album of the Year in 1988.