Ringo Starr shows he was a clever lad, too
August 26, 2007
BY TERRY LAWSON
DETROIT FREE PRESS
Earlier this year, Larry King hosted a very special hour advertised as a Beatles reunion of sorts: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison together, ostensibly to talk about the good old days. In fact, the hour was an infomercial for Cirque de Soliel's Beatles-based "Love" spectacle in Vegas, a show that was celebrating its first anniversary.
I had to watch, but it would have been excruciating had it not been for the realization that McCartney and Starr, bemused and baffled by King's lame questions, had reverted to the guys they were in 1964.
When the Beatles came to the United States, they were barely off the plane before they began delighting teenage America by treating the reporters -- who treated them like they were furry zoo animals sent to breed in captivity -- as if they were the baboons.
We had never seen this before, but we loved it. And we loved it the most when the small one who played the drums dealt out the put-downs as if he had no clue he had been appointed the least of the litter, more to be cuddled and apologized for than idolized. But Starr, who had been all this for a year in Europe, knew his place in this hierarchy, and unlike George Harrison, he didn't bridle at it.
And when the ride was over, Starr surprised everyone by quickly recording two of the best solo singles any of the ex-fabs released, in "It Don't Come Easy" and "Photograph." Then came an album called "Ringo," which by recruiting his old chums to help out, turned out to be hugely successful and beloved. This was in small part because his was the only solo album that had the spirit of the Beatles. In 1972 -- only two years after the break-up that was sorely missed.
When Starr ventured out of Pepperville, he was less successful, and no one bought albums like "Ringo the Fourth," "Bad Boy" and "Old Wave," the only solo Beatles record to go unreleased in the United States. Accordingly, songs from those records aren't on "Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo" a compilation coming out Tuesday that has him returning to Capitol Records.
Along with impeccably remastered versions of hits like "Back Off Boogaloo" and "You're Sixteen," it does have tracks from his more recent studio albums, "Time Takes Time," "Ringorama" and "Choose Love." They are fine efforts, with Beatles echoes duly present courtesy of producer Mark Hudson.
These days, people craving Beatlesque music have no shortage of suppliers, from Oasis to Apples in Stereo. Even Paul McCartney is enjoying something of a return to form on record. But just as "Photograph" may be the best solo Beatles single, and "Ringo" vies with Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" and Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" for the best solo Beatles LP, "Photograph" the album is the best of all the solo Beatle compilations.
Good on you, Richie, still getting a good laugh.