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 Ringo Starr

British Rock Artist

Liverpool 8 (2008)

Y Not (2010)

Ringo 2012 (2012)

 

 

 

Ringo Starr

Liverpool 8 - 5

Some artists are so difficult to review and Ringo is certainly one of those. I had a great deal of trouble with Liverpool 8 because of my pre-conceptions that poor old Ringo just cannot sing. On first play I hated this. Then I began to consider the obvious love that had gone into producing the album and on second and third play began to enjoy it. Strangely it probably reflects on the back life of a Beatle more accurately than anything released as a solo album by the other three members of the Fab Four. Of course that doesn't mean that it's a good album but Ringo has had a damn good try. There's a mix of up tempo numbers and ballads and passing references to Harry Nilsson and the other Beatles and much more. And of course at the heart of it all is Liverpool - which somehow has been named the 2008 European City of Culture. It is undeniably true that Liverpool has a greater heart than any other English City. So where does Ringo fall into all of this? The title track looks back at his past and its opening from a lyrical point of view is excessively corny. Poor old Ringo seems to insist on rhyming everything so we have his mate Rory rhyming with Factory.

I was a sailor first, I sailed the sea
Then I got a job, in a factory
Played Butlinís Camp with my friend, Rory
It was good for him, it was great for me

Livepool I left you, said goodbye to Madryn Street
I always followed my heart, and I never missed a beat
Destiny was calling, I just couldnít stick around
Liverpool I left you, but I never let you down

Interestingly the lyrics did make me google Madryn Street in Toxteth where Ringo was born. There are plans afoot to pull the street with its typical Coronation Street style houses down. Quite rightly there is a strong lobby of heritage supporters attempting to at least save Ringo's former home at number nine. I hope they succeed. It is all too easy to rip up the past without giving a thought to the affect it can have. Apart from the poetry Liverpool 8 is a strangely decent song even if at one point we do get the words "We were number one and it was fun (yuck). The best song on the album is "Love Is" which is actually a beautiful piece. Elsewhere there's a touch of bluegrass, even some hickory gospel. It really is a huge mixed bag, but still decent enough to warrant consideration despite the usual embarrassing moments. And as Ringo says in the title track "Liverpool I left you, but I never let you down."

 

Y Not - 5

Fill in the Blanks/ Peace Dream/ The Other Side of Liverpool/ Walk With You/ Time/ Everyone Wins/ Mystery of the Night/ Can't Do It Wrong/ Y Not/ Who's Your Daddy

Another jaunty little number from our Ringo. If Liverpool 8 in many ways took the man back to his roots, Y Not extends those roots and entrenches them a little deeper into Scouseland. You just know with Mr Starr that there's going to be plenty of dross, but usually amongst it all is a couple of gems. Interestingly they have become songs about the past and so it is here. Many of the pieces are straightforward and monumentally average rockers, but occasionally Ringo rises above and three tracks on this album are significant. Peace Dream shows that he is on more than nodding terms with the memory of John Lennon, The Other Side of Liverpool harks back to the song Liverpool 8, but more importantly Walk With You is a genuinely good song. Firstly it is written by Ringo in collaboration with the genius of Van Dyke Parks and, perhaps more importantly, it has backing vocals from Paul McCartney. Two old mates getting it on and as far as the Beatles go that's all we can now ever expect. The album is worth buying for that one track. Overall it's a pretty punchy affair that may not win any awards but at least the man is still creating music.

Ringo 2012 - 3

Anthem/Wings/Think It Over/Samba/Rock Island Line/Step Lightly/Wonderful/In Liverpool/Slow Down

There comes a point when you have to say enough is enough and I guess this is it. This album didn't win the Sunday Times Dud of the Week award for nothing. Sadly it looks as if two years on from Y Not Ringo has been told it's time to release another album. So we go through the same format, but this time there are problems. We have just nine tracks weighing in at 28 min 51 sec. The time wouldn't be too worrying if what we had was top of the form rock. What we sadly have is some tired old rock n toll, the obligatory hark back to his early Liverpool days with "In Liverpool", two songs that have been re-recorded from the 1970s, a copver of a Buddy Holly song and a cover version of Rock Island Line. So just how much effort has been put in here. Sadly the answer appears to have been very little when it takes the artist two years to come up with well under 30 minutes worth of material. In addition the lyrics are poor, often bordering on the kind of poetry you might expect from an adolescent teenager. The opening track Anthem (which is anything but) starts off with the words "This is an Anthem of Peace and Love/We have got to keep trying we can't Give Up." That somehow sums the whole thing up. I think I am probably being charitable in giving it three out of 10.