Ringo Starr - Ringo 2012
When the Fab Four finally called it quits and embarked on their individual solo careers they were up against obstacles few beginners could ever imagine. Sure, their famouser-than-famous names could get them so far, but after being part of the greatest and most successful band in the history of the world, well, expectations were pretty high.
Ringo Starr always had it tougher than his fellow bandmates, and his solo career never quite reached the highs attained by John, Paul and George. You always rooted for Ringo; each time a solo album or single was released you willed it to be good. Ringo was always the one who was picked on, ridiculed, the sibling who never matched up to his more gifted brothers. And alas his latest solo effort is not likely to change that perception.
Despite a lot of help from his buddies (Joe Walsh, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart and Edgar Winter to name a few), the paltry nine songs that make up Ringo 2012 sound forced and uninspiring. Album opener 'Anthem' is as cliched and trite as a group hug: "This is an anthem / For peace of love / We've got to keep trying / We can't give up." The listless mid-tempo 'Wings' is no better.
It's only when Ringo stops trying to be 'hip and now' and goes back to being the loveable old mop top of yore that things improve. 'Think It Over' is a lovely reminder of 'Don't Pass Me By' and 'Act Naturally'. His bouncy take on the classic nugget 'Rock Island Line' is pretty good, Ringo holding his own in front of the first rate musicianship of his famous musical buddies. With 'In Liverpool', you really wish for a better song to back the unabashed reminiscence of his days with his old pals in the city where it all began. It may not be brilliant, but if it doesn't bring a lump to the throat, then aren't you a little-old-stonehearted-me. But the rest of the album just isn't, well, Ringo. Too straightforward and MOR for the guy who embodied beloved classics like 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Octopuses' Garden' - songs that let his larger than life personality shine through.
Yet Ringo Starr doesn't need to prove anything to us. He is rock royalty, a living breathing legend who helped change the face of music. Ringo 2012 may not be a rock masterpiece, but so what? It's Ringo Starr having fun and making music, with a little help from his friends.