Friday, 27 July 2018

Ringo Starr - Ringo (1973)


Released November 1973

After two “easy listening” albums in the crooners of “Sentimental Journey” and the country of “Beaucoups Of Blues”, Ringo Starr released an album of more rocky “Ringo songs”. He had a couple of earlier rock singles in “Back Of Boogaloo” and “It Don’t Come Easy” (the latter of which is included in the bonus material this album, but this was his first effort at doing an upbeat, rock album.


1. I'm The Greatest
2. Have You Seen My Baby
3. Photograph
4. Down And Out
5. Sunshine Life For Me
6. You're Sixteen
7. Oh My My
8. Step Lightly
9. Six O'Clock
10. Devil Woman
11. You and Me Babe
12. It Don't Come Easy
13. Early 1970

“I’m The Greatest”, written by John Lennon, is a wryly amusing, vibrant take on the previous years, and being part of “the greatest show on earth”, while Randy Newman’s “Have You Seen My Baby” is a rock’n’roll-ish, “Bony Moronie”-style saxophone-driven romp that sounds a bit like John Lennon on “Rock’n’Roll”. Boogie-woogie piano and rocking guitar (played here by Marc Bolan) enrich a pleasant enough slice of fun. “Photograph” was the big hit single, and a good one it was too, from its dramatic piano and drum into and Ringo’s hangdog, mournful vocal. It brings back such memories of “Top Of The Pops” in 1973. I am sure Starr did not sing it, but Pan’s People danced to it, or else it was used as the “play out” song. The song had a bit of a big “wall of sound” style backing, all backing vocals, strings, saxophone and percussion. The other single from the album was a cover of Johnny Burnette’s rock’n’roll classic, “You’re Sixteen”, which was amiable enough, although Starr felt uncomfortable singing it, the older he got. It does have a rollicking piano intro though, and Starr’s vocal is fetching. A kazoo solo from Paul McCartney on there too is a bit of fun.

“Down And Out” is a pounding, brassy rocker with a convincing vocal from Starr. It is easy to take a pop at Starr’s albums. They are obviously not those of the other three, but taken in isolation, there is not a Ringo Starr album I own that I have not enjoyed. “Sunshine Life For Me” is a George Harrison country blues stomper, with airs of The Stones’ “Beggars’ Banquet” about it and plenty of hoe-down fiddle from The Band’s Rick Danko. The Band’s Robbie Robertson plays guitar on it too. Other notable luminaries appearing on the album are Harrison, Lennon, McCartney, Steve Cropper, Garth Hudson, Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Bobby Keys, Martha Reeves, Merry Clayton and Harry Nilsson amongst others.

“Oh My My” is more lively, upbeat effervescence. “Step Lightly” is like a slow, mid-album Beatles song as indeed is the next one, “Six O’Clock”. Both pleasant enough, but actually nothing remarkable. “Devil Woman” has a bit of a glam rock drum sound to it and more rocking saxophone. It almost sounds like a Suzi Quatro track at one point. The drinking good time song, “You And Me” is a laconic piece of advice from Ringo, with a Lennon-esque “goodbye everybody” vocal bit at the end.  “It Don’t Come Easy” was a great rock single, while “Early 1970” is a most sad tale from Ringo about The Beatles’ break up. As with all Ringo’s albums, it is not all that great, but it is certainly not all that bad either.


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