Ringo 2012

Ringo 2012

It is easy to approach a new album release by Ringo Starr as something of a none event, given that Ringo has not really produced anything remotely original since 1969, and even then he was playing a minor role in a groundbreaking quartet. But still, Ringo Starr survived being in the biggest band in pop history and always remained seemingly unaltered; admittedly he always played the fool and still seems a little foolish, but I always found him the most endearing of the four and he always played his part faultlessly.

So, approaching these nine ‘new’ songs with not even a hint of excitement and zero expectations, it is pleasing to me to realise that Ringo is still Ringo; his drumming is unadventurous but never out of place, and the musicians he has chosen to accompany him are all of the highest quality. And I guess this is the album’s only downfall – it feels overproduced, unnaturally tidy and just not exciting. Don’t misunderstand me though, I am not saying it is a bad album; it is extremely listenable but never mind blowing.

It is also extremely short in this age of CD’s that can comfortably accommodate 80 minutes, and the download album, which is really limitless. If I was a paying fan, I would have felt massively shortchanged.
There are only nine songs on 2012: five are new songs, two old songs and two covers.

The album starts with “Anthem” a song that rather immaturely tries to be anthemic by saying it is an anthem in the lyric, rather than actually being anthemic. It does contain a decent guitar hook though. And this really sets the tone for the album: Mr Starkey’s immediately recognisable nasal tones, solid four on the floor drumbeats, accomplished band members, unadventurous arrangements, but ultimately giving you an all over warm feeling.

The highlight is “In Liverpool”, co-written with Dave Stewart and here you can really tell that a pop craftsman like Stewart has guided Ringo into what is the only decent melody on show. It is nothing complex, but is clearly the work of someone who understands the importance of a decent melodic hook that plants itself in the first line. Lyrically also it delves into the mind of a man who dreamed of being a musician whilst being an apprentice engineer and then ended up the most famous drummer in the world – it is all stated very simply without pretence. Sometimes it is almost too simple, as if it is written by a teenager; but it really has a charm about. When the “Oo la la la”’s come in from the tremendous backing singers, and the lyrics: “Me and the boys, me and the band, living our fantasies”, well, they gave me chills.

So, “2012” could easily have been titled “1970.. again”, as little has really changed in the way Ringo goes about making records, but when it works for you, why change?

1. Anthem (Starkey-Ballard) – 5:00
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, Percussion and Keyboards
Steve Dudas – Guitar
Bruce Sugar – Keyboards
Amy Keys and Kelly Moneymaker – backing vocals

2. Wings (Starkey-Poncia) – 3:29
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, Percussion and Keyboards
Joe Walsh – Guitar
Benmont Tench – Organ
Bruce Sugar – Piano, Horn Arrangement
Amy Keys and Kelly Moneymaker – backing vocals

3. Think It Over (Holly-Perry) – 1:46
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Guitar and Keyboards
Charlie Haden – Bass
Steve Dudas – Guitar
Bruce Sugar – Keyboards
Richard Page – backing vocals

4. Samba (Starkey-Parks) – 2:46
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, Percussion and Keyboards
Steve Dudas – Guitar, Bass
Van Dyke Parks – Keyboards, Accordion, String Arrangement
Matt Cartsonis – Mandolin
Amy Keys and Kelly Moneymaker – backing vocals

5. Rock Island Line (Traditional,Arranged by Starkey) – 2:57
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, and Guitar
Don Was – Bass
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Guitar
Steve Dudas – Guitar
Benmont Tench – Piano
Edgar Winter – Sax

6. Step Lightly (Starkey) – 2:44
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, Percussion and Guitar
Don Was – Bass
Bruce Sugar – Keyboards
Benmont Tench – Piano

7. Wonderful (Starkey-Nicholson) – 3:45
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, and Percussion
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Guitar
Richard Page – Bass
Steve Dudas – Guitar
Bruce Sugar – Organ, Synth Horns, Keyboards
Amy Keys and Kelly Moneymaker – backing vocals
8. In Liverpool (Starkey-Stewart) – 3:18
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, and Percussion
Dave Stewart – Guitar and Keyboards
Benmont Tench – Piano
Michael Bradford – Bass
Ann Marie Calhoun – Violin
Amy Keys and Kelly Moneymaker – backing vocals

9. Slow Down (Starkey-Walsh) – 2:57
Ringo Starr – Vocals, Drums, and Percussion
Joe Walsh – Guitar and Backing Vocals
Don Was – Bass
Edgar Winter – Organ
Bruce Sugar – Keyboard
Amy Keys and Kelly Moneymaker – backing vocals

Review – Al Neilson

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