Friday, 25 January 2019

Ringo Starr - Goodnight Vienna (1974)

No no no I don't smoke it no more....


Released November 1974

This was Ringo Starr's follow-up to the successful Ringo, from the previous year. For many, it is rated as highly. Personally, I think it is the equal of its predecessor. As usual, Ringo ropes in his mates to help out - Lennon, Elton John, Steve Cropper, Robbie Robertson, Dr. John, Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston amongst others all make appearances. It was an appealing album, but it was probably the last decent album Starr put out for quite a while. Incidentally, I won myself a copy of this album, aged fifteen, for winning a competition in the "Disc" music paper. (I had to make as many words as I could out of the phrase "Ringo Starr's new album is Goodnight Vienna").


1. Goodnight Vienna
2. Occapella
3. Oo-Wee
4. Husbands And Wives
5. Snookeroo
6. All By Myself
7. Call Me
8. No No Song
9. Only You (And You Alone)
10. Easy For Me
11. Goodnight Vienna (Reprise)                              

Goodnight Vienna is a rollicking, piano-driven slice of rocky fun. It is very Lennon-esque in places (Lennon wrote the song), and Harrison-esque too, with its "wall of sound" saxophone sound. Occapella has a great bass line and even goes into a dubby bit in the middle of its staccato beat. Oo-Wee is a jaunty, horn-powwered typically Ringo singalong rock number. Roger Miller's wry, observational Husbands And Wives is ideal for covering given Starr's love for country music.

Snookeroo was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin and Elton plays piano and is one of the album's best tracks. Elton John was huge in 1974 so this was a coup for Ringo to have this on the album and it no doubt brought in a fair few sales. Both All By Myself  and Call Me are very "Ringo" hangdog songs in their mournful, deadpan vocal delivery. No No Song is a tongue-in-cheek, amusing song about drug taking and Starr claiming he doesn't do that suff any more, man.

The lead-off single, surprisingly, was the slow fifties cover, Only You (And You Alone). Harry Nilsson's sombre Easy For Me was full of grandiose string orchestration and an easy listening 1930s feel. A brief reprise of Goodnight Vienna lifts things up a bit, but actually the album finishes off on a bit of a downbeat note. The best material was earlier in the album and you know, thinking about it again, I think people are right, Ringo was the better album!

The bonus tracks are the excellent single Back Off Boogaloo, which adds to the appeal of this latest  release; Blindman - a mysterious, brooding number, and Six O'Clock, which is a very McCartney-ish song.