Ringo Starr has consistently been making slickly produced superb sounding rock n roll records for some 25 years now from his 1992 comeback album Time Takes Time to his latest. What started out as an intended country album to be recorded and produced in Nashville by Dave Stewart, Give More Love ultimately evolved into another in a long line of solidly recorded good time rocking affairs recorded for the most part by Ringo at his home with a substantial bit of help from the usual friends and suspects. Not since Ringo’s Beaucoup Of Blues album has Ringo had such a wealth of strong acoustic numbers sprinkled in amongst the electric up-tempo feel good vibe boogie Starr has become well known for. Ringo’s infectious youthful enthusiasm and strong vocal performances pleasantly betray his 77 years, easily out-boogieing musicians half his age. And as Ringo’s one-time Beatle bandmate John Lennon famously quipped in his 1974 song What You Got (“You don’t know what you got until you lose it”) perhaps it’s time to revel in and appreciate the man and his music while we are fortunate enough to still have him around. Peace & Love!
Editor’s Note: The column below was first published in the December 28, 2015 edition of Song Of The Day Club as “Countdown The Top 15 Albums Of 2015 – #4 Ringo Starr – Postcards From Paradise”
In Appreciation Of Ringo Starr
As a rule, Ringo Starr’s albums are, for the most part, criminally overlooked. Perhaps not since his sobering 1992 album, Time Takes Time, has there been any kind of thoughtful examination of Starr’s post Beatles output. All too often greeted with not much more than a collective yawn, the music world’s knee jerk response to a new Ringo Starr album can best be described as wildly unenthusiastic to say the least and, at worst, patronizingly indifferent. There has been little to no serious examination of Starr’s music for decades now and there is much to talk about.
Ringo’s twenty plus years of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery (reportedly not even the cocaine crazed Keith Moon could keep up with him) made Lennon’s “lost weekend” look like a children’s tea party, one that eventually took a serious toll. Starr’s lifesaving sobriety had him step away from the music world and not release an album for close to ten years back in the early 1980’s.
After a decade of self-imposed exile Ringo returned, reinvigorated by a new musical partnership with Mark Hudson of The Hudson Brothers fame. Over a fifteen-year period from 1992 through to 2007 the two fostered a musical legacy that endured some five years longer than Starr’s association with the Fab Four, producing 10 albums and close to 100 songs. In 2002 Ringo said of Hudson, “Mark puts the fun back in recording. We always have such a great time. He lets the musicians know that anything is possible. He’s a great musician, has lots of energy and he’s a lot of fun to work with”. And then it all ended.
Much mystery surrounds the dissolution of the partnership between Starr and Hudson. In June of 2007 Ringo rather unceremoniously announced through his attorney that his partnership with Hudson was over and that they would no longer be working together. In spite of the fact that Hudson had already co-written and recorded all 12 songs that were to appear on his then unreleased Liverpool 8 album Ringo brought in Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics to remix the whole thing and rather cheekily credited Stewart as “re-producer” upon the albums eventual release in 2008. Since then Ringo has not looked back self-producing his last three albums including his latest.
2015’s Postcards From Paradise is perhaps the leanest most direct Ringo Starr album since the one that successfully launched his solo career some 40 years ago, the legendary Ringo album from 1973. The easy-going party atmosphere that inhabited much of Starr’s previous efforts is no longer present. This time around Starr has adopted a tighter more serious tone as witnessed by the hard-edged sax driven reggae of “Island In The Sun”, the synclavier heavy soul funk of “Bamboula”, the urban dance floor groove of “You Bring The Party Down”, the psychedelic dream pop of the title track and the heartfelt balladry of “Not Looking Back”.
At a time in life when most folks his age are busy finding a comfortable chair this 75 year old is rocking alright with nary an assisted living or retirement home rocking chair in sight.