[Review] Ringo Starr: Goodnight Vienna (1974)

John Lennon’s lost weekend is again Ringo’s gain as he moves the party to his place and scores another gold record.

Kronomyth 4.0: Klaatu Barada Ringo.

It was da-da-down to Ringo and John at this point, but the old Snookeroo still managed to deliver more actual, honest-to-goodness hits on Goodnight Vienna. “No No Song,” “(It’s All Da-Da-Down To) Goodnight Vienna” and “Only You” did well on the charts, and only the last could be credited to post-Beatlemania inflation–the rest of these are actually really catchy. Funkier and more electric than his last record (and thus, I guess, more boogalooey), Goodnight Vienna starts on familiar footing with a new song from John Lennon (although you may wonder why he says goodbye when he should be saying hello). Ringo carries the rest of the record with the usual stalwarts (Harry Nilsson, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voormann, Billy Preston, Vini Poncia) and a peck of pianists (Elton John, Dr. John, David Foster, Lincoln Mayorga).

The Starr of the show again manages to pull a few good ideas from his melon and chooses some interesting covers, including Roger Miller’s “Husbands and Wives” and Allen Toussaint’s “Occapella.” His voice hasn’t improved, and yet it’s oddly compelling on songs like “Easy For Me,” almost as if Ringo had grown comfortable enough with his voice to render songs in his own idiom (think Frank Sinatra with a head cold). The horn sections and backing vocalists further sweeten the nasally roughness of Ringo’s voice, which seemed a little dry on his last album, all of which lends to the impression that Goodnight Vienna is a more musical-sounding album than its predecessor. It is more lively by a little, but that doesn’t compensate for the lack of The Beatles’ participation. Thus, without George Harrison contributing harmony vocals or Paul McCartney’s romantic ballads in the mix, there might be a little too much Ringo in this strawberry tart for some tastes. Still, compared to what could be expected from the man, Goodnight Vienna is a triumph.

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Original LP Version

A1. (It’s All Da-Da-Down To) Goodnight Vienna (John Lennon) (2:32)
A2. Occapella (Allen Toussaint) (2:55)
A3. Oo-Wee (Richard Starkey/Vini Poncia) (3:42)
A4. Husbands And Wives (Roger Miller) (3:20)
A5. Snookeroo (Elton John/Bernie Taupin) (3:27)
B1. All By Myself (Vini Poncia/Richard Starkey) (3:20)
B2. Call Me (Richard Starkey) (3:57)
B3. No No Song (Hoyt Axton) (2:30)
B4. Only You (Buck Ram/Ande Rand) (3:16)
B5. Easy For Me (Harry Nilsson) (2:18)
B6. Goodnight Vienna (Reprise) (John Lennon) (1:15)

CD reissue bonus tracks
12. Back Off Boogaloo
13. Blindman
14. Six O’Clock (extended version)

The Players

Ringo Starr (vocals, drums, percussion), Jim Keltner (drums), Bobby Keys (horns), Trevor Lawrence (horns, horn arrangements, string arrangement), Steve Madaio (horns, trumpet solo), Vini Poncia (harmony vocal, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, string arrangement), Lon Van Eaton (guitar, horns, acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Klaus Voormann (bass, backing vocals) with Richard Bennett (electric guitar solo on A4), The Blackberries (backing vocals), Dennis Coffey (guitar on A3), Steve Cropper (guitar, electric guitar), Dr. John (electric piano), Jesse Ed Davis (guitar, electric guitar), Chuck Finley (horns on A5), Carl “Weddings And Bar Mitzvahs” Fortina (accordion), David Foster (piano on B2), Jimmy Gilstrap (backing vocals on A2), Joe Greene (backing vocals), Ira Hawkins (backing vocals), Tom Hensley (electric piano on A4), Nicky Hopkins (electric piano on B3), Elton John (piano on A5), Clydie King (backing vocals), Linda Lawrence (backing vocals), John Lennon (piano and inspiration, guitar, acoustic guitar), The Masst Alberts (backing vocals on A1), Lincoln Mayorga (piano on B5), Lou McCreery (horns), James Newton Howard (synthesizer on A5), Harry Nilsson (backing vocals), Richard Perry (backing vocals, conductor), Billy Preston (clavinet, electric piano), Robbie Robertson (guitar on A5), Alvin Robinson (guitar on B1), Derrek Van Eaton (backing vocals), “Sweet” Cynthia Webb (backing vocals on B2). Produced by Richard Perry; production assistance by Vini Poncia; recording and remix engineered by Bill Schnee.

Did You Know?

  • In a 1976 interview, Ringo was quoted as saying: “I love a lot of (Ringo). I think, as an album though, Goodnight Vienna is probably better.” (source: http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1976.00rs.beatles.html).
  • The album is based on the science fiction movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still, with Ringo in the role of Klaatu. In 1977, the Canadian band Klaatu was rumored to be the reunited Beatles.
  • A “bohunk” is a racial slur for someone of Bohemian descent.
  • Hoyt Axton recorded his own version of “No No Song” (with a cameo from Cheech & Chong) and released it on his 1975 album, Southbound. That album credits the song to Axton and David Jackson.

The Pictures

Art direction by Roy Kohara. Inner sleeve photography by Larry Emerine.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on November 15, 1974 in the UK (Apple, PCS 7168), on November 18, 1974 in the US (Apple, SW/8XW-3417) and in 1974 in Argentina (Apple, 8106), Colombia (EMI Odeon, 11344), Italy (Apple, 3C 062/3C 344 05762), the Netherlands (Apple, 5C 062 05762) and Yugoslavia (Jugoton, LSAP70702) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #30 on the UK charts and #8 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Capitol, SN-16219).
  2. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 1992 in the US (Capitol, CDP 7 80379 2) with 3 bonus tracks.
  3. Re-packaged with Ringo on expanded 2-for-1 compact disc in 1999 in Russia (CD Maximum) with 4 bonus tracks.
  4. Re-issued on expanded compact disc on July 12, 2000 in Japan (EMI Toshiba, TOCP-53155) with 3 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-issued on expanded compact disc on December 17, 2008 in Japan (EMI, TOCP-70507) with 3 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-released on expanded super-high material compact disc on August 31, 2016 in Japan (Universal, UICY-15546) with 3 bonus tracks.

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