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Sunday, 10 February 2019
Ringo Starr - Sentimental Journey (1970)
Released March 1970
This was, in effect, the first solo album by a Beatles member, coming, as it did before the release of the group's final album in "Let It Be". It was also the first album that saw an established rock artist covering old 1920s to 1950s easy listening standards. Bryan Ferry, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and Rod Stewart would all follow suit, albeit many, many years later in some cases. Ringo did it to please his mum, apparently. Members of the Starkey family helped to pick the songs. Whatever, it was immaculately produced, involving McCartney, The Bee Gees' Maurice Gibb and Quincy Jones. There is not much more you can say about it, really. It is a pleasant half an hour or so of carefree, Sunday morning listening, as indeed I am doing now.
Starr sings at times with a good-humoured style that makes you briefly wonder if it is a bit of a send-up, but it is simple the nature of the beast. Gold old Ringo. There is no doubt he enjoyed doing this. This is what he said about it:-
"....I wondered, what shall I do with my life now that it's over? I was brought up with all those songs, you know, my family used to sing those songs, my mother and my dad, my aunties and uncles. They were my first musical influences on me. So I went to see George Martin and said: 'Let's do an album of standards, and to make it interesting we'll have all the arrangements done by different people....".
At the time it took a bit of a critical pounding from haughty rock journalists and (what a surprise), John Lennon, who called it "embarrassing", harshly. Maybe the Eurovision-style "oompah" of tracks like "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" didn't help. (This is not the much later-written Van Morrison song, by the way). The way to treat it is not as anything other than what it is. If Ringo wanted to do this, I am sure as a blessed relief from Beatles stresses, then so be it. You can't help but enjoy the heartwarming, cosy feel of "Sentimental Journey", "Whispering Grass" and the big band punch of "Night And Day". It is simply harmless and charming. It served also to firmly cement positive opinions of Ringo's personality, which had held fast, particularly as the other Beatles "went weird". George Harrison liked it too and of course, McCartney did.
I have to say, though, that despite these plus points, Ringo's voice is a bit flat on occasions, especially on "I'm A Fool To Care", but maybe it didn't really matter. The jazzy instrumentation on this, and many other tracks, is simply top class. Just check out the big brass break on "Stardust" or the intro to "Blue, Turning Grey Over You". There is a lovely warm bass on "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" too.
Incidentally, "Bye Bye Blackbird" was also done many years later by Paul McCartney on his very similar "Kisses On The Bottom" album from 2012. September of the same year would find Starr releasing an equally pleasing album of country style material in "Beaucoups Of Blues". Finally, what a wonderful, evocative photo of an old Liverpool pub is on the cover.
1. Sentimental Journey
2. Night And Day
3. Whispering Grass
4. Bye Bye Blackbird
5. I'm A Fool To Care
7. Blue, Turning Grey Over You
8. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
10. You Always Hurt The One You Love
11. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
12. Let The Rest Of The World Go By
- February 10, 2019