With drum hits that replicate the opening of the Beatles’ song “Glass Onion”, Ringo Starr’s newest disc Ringo 2012 kicks into gear. A stabbing guitar line follows that sounds very similar to the opening riff from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It’s not a total rip off; it’s more an allusion to remind listeners of Richard Starkey’s roots – incase anyone has forgotten! That’s been Ringo’s modus operandi for the last ten years. In that time, he has pounded out five albums of Beatlesque material, trying to make music that fits sonically with the band’s early rock or psychedelic periods. The first of these albums were 2003’s masterpiece Ringo Rama and 2005’s Choose Love. Both are rock solid and stand comfortably next to any Beatle solo album. Then, there was 2008’s Liverpool 8 which was high on filler and followed by 2010's X & Y which was all filler. Even the high number of high-profile special guests (which included Paul McCartney) couldn’t save it.
I am relieved to announce that Ringo 2012 is definitely an improvement over Liverpool 8 and X & Y. The album is lean and mean with nine songs clocking in at 28 minutes and 55 seconds. Two tracks are rerecorded versions of some of his lesser-known songs from the 1970s “Wings” and “Step Lightly”. Five are new originals co-written by Ringo. Lastly, there are two are covers. One is Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” and the other is Ringo’s take on the standard “Rock Island Line”. The cover tunes have a lot of energy and are worth checking out as are the rerecorded tracks from 1970s. Of the new originals, “Anthem” is good not great and “Samba” is forgettable. However, the album ends strong. The mid-tempo pop song “Wonderful” is delightful with its tasty lead guitar work. The next song, “In Liverpool” is about Ringo’s childhood and rise to stardom. This topic is definitely something that he has sung a lot about on recent albums, but he pulls it off once more and the power ballad comes off as one of Ringo 2012’s highlights. The album closes with the groovin’ rocker “Slow Down” which is co-written with and features Ringo’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh on guitar. It’s a satisfying conclusion to an album that proves Ringo Starr shouldn’t be written off.
Essential tracks are: “Wonderful”, “In Liverpool” & “Think It Over”.