The Very Best Of Sting & The Police (2002)

This is not what becomes a legend most, but it will do for the part-time fans who understand Sting and his former band to be part of a steady radio-hits continuum rather than a rock-evolution one. Cleverly, this compilation is both semi-exhaustive, with eighteen tracks, and achronological, making the radio-hits perspective incontrovertible. Because however expansive Sting's musical worldview grows, incorporating jazzesque and American soul with the reggae-bottomed Police sound, the songs are sturdy and companionable, traveling from the jerky comforts of "Message in a Bottle" to the sparkling "Fields of Gold" to the admonishing delights of — omigod! Remember prom? — "Roxanne," with efficiency and literary verve intact on every note. Completists will scoff, but so what? They're outnumbered.

x