[Review] Ringo Starr: Ringo (1973)

It wasn’t a Beatles reunion, but Ringo was the next best thing.

Kronomyth 3.0: Ringo’s best overalls album.

With a little help from his friends, Ringo Starr delivered a pop album that put to rest questions of whether he would succeed as a solo artist. The self-titled Ringo spawned three Top 20 singles: “Photograph” (cowritten by George Harrison), “You’re Sixteen” (which included vocal backing from Harry Nilsson and Paul McCartney) and “Oh My My” (cowritten by Vini Poncia). Ringo doesn’t have a great voice, but his everyman charm is winning, deferential where John Lennon was egotistical, grounded where Harrison was existential.

Ringo’s records (like Lennon’s) always seemed to be loosely aggregated parties, with guests coming and going, some staying only briefly (Marc Bolan, John Lennon, Billy Preston, The Band) while others hang around long enough to help clean up afterwards (Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins, Tom Scott). These are the same circle of friends who formed the extended Beatles family, supporting Lennon and Harrison throughout their solo careers as well, so it’s no surprise that Ringo feels like the work of John and George from this period (e.g., Walls & Bridges, Dark Horse), which is referred to as “boogaloo” (whatever that means). But where fans had set expectations for the other Beatles, it’s fair to say that anything Ringo added was pure gravy; after all, Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blues hardly boded well for the future, though the singles “It Don’t Come Easy” (which was added to this disc for the 1991 reissue) and “Back Off Boogaloo” did show promise.

Starting with the Lennon-penned “I’m the Greatest,” Ringo gets out of the gate quickly, reprising his role as Billy Shears in order to remind folks of whence he came (Lennon obviously perceived the importance of Ringo’s first serious commercial album). Material from George [“Sunshine Life for Me,” “You and Me (Babe)”] and the McCartneys (“Six O’Clock”) added to the album’s cachet, with Starr (a.k.a. Richard Starkey) ably filling in the holes on “Devil Woman,” “Step Lightly” and “Oh My My.” Although his next albums would follow the same formula, it was on Ringo that listeners became starr-struck all over again, and for most fans this remains his best solo album.

Original elpee version

A1. I’m The Greatest (John Lennon) (3:23)
A2. Have You Seen My Baby (a.k.a. Hold On) (Randy Newman) (3:43)
A3. Photograph (Richard Starkey/George Harrison) (3:58)
A4. Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond) (George Harrison) (2:44)
A5. You’re Sixteen (Robert Sherman/Richard Sherman) (2:50)
B1. Oh My My (Vini Poncia/Richard Starkey) (4:17)
B2. Step Lightly (Richard Starkey) (3:15)
B3. Six O’Clock (Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney) (5:26)
B4. Devil Woman (Richard Starkey/Vini Poncia) (4:01)
B5. You And Me (Babe) (George Harrison/Mal Evans) (4:58)

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. It Don’t Come Easy (Richard Starkey)
12. Early 1970 (Richard Starkey)
13. Down And Out (Richard Starkey)

Original 8-track version (UK)
A1. Have You Seen My Baby?
A2. Photograph
A3. Six O’Clock (part 1)
B1. Six O’Clock (concl.)
B2. Devil Woman
B3. You’re Sixteen
C1. I’m the Greatest
C2. Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond)
C3. Step Lightly
D1. Oh My My
D2. You and Me (Babe)

Original 8-track version (US)
A1. I’m the Greatest
A2. Hold On
A3. Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond)
B1. Oh My My
B2. Six O’Clock
C1. Devil Woman
C2. Photograph
C3. Step Lightly (part 1)
D1. Step Lightly (concl.)
D2. You’re Sixteen
D3. You and Me (Babe)

The Players

Ringo Starr (vocals, drums, percussion, dancing feet), Jimmy Calvert (acoustic guitar, guitar), George Harrison (guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar, harmony vocal, backing vocals, electric guitar), Nicky Hopkins (piano, electric piano), Jim Keltner (drums), Vini Poncia (acoustic guitar, backing vocals, guitar, harmony vocal, percussion), Tom Scott (horns, horn arrangements, sax solo, clarinet arrangement), Klaus Voormann (bass, upright bass, backing vocals) with Marc Bolan (guitar on A2), James Booker (piano on A2), David Bromberg (fiddle and banjo on A4), Merry Clayton (backing vocals on B1), Steve Cropper (electric guitar on B2), Rick Danko (fiddle on A4), Chuck Finley (horns on B4), Levon Helm (mandolin on A4), Tom Hensley (piano on B4), Milt Holland (percussion, marimba), Jim Horn (horn arrangement on B1), Garth Hudson (accordion on A4), Bobby Keyes (tenor sax solo), John Lennon (piano and harmony vocal on A1), Linda McCartney (backing vocals on B3), Paul McCartney (mouth sax solo, piano, synthesizer, backing vocals, string and flute arrangement), Harry Nilsson (backing voices on A5), Jack Nitzche (orchestral and choral arrangement, string arrangement), Richard Perry (backing vocals on B4), Billy Preston (organ, piano), Martha Reeves (backing vocals on B1), Robbie Robertson (guitar on A4), Derrek Van Eaton (percussion), Lon Van Eaton (percussion). Produced by Richard Perry; engineered by Bill Schnee.

The Pictures

Front and back cover paintings by Tim Bruckner. Lithographs by Klaus Voormann.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on November 2, 1973 in the UK (Apple, TCPCTC/PCTC/8X-PCTC 252), the US (Apple, SWAL/8XW-3413), Argentina (Apple, 8011), Colombia (EMI Odeon, 11276), Japan (Apple, EAP-9037X), Mexico (EMI, SLEM-499) and Yugoslavia (Jugoton, LSAP-70584) with gatefold cover and lyric booklet. Reached #7 on the UK charts and #2 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record). Also released on elpee in 1974 in Brazil (Apple, SBTX 1027) with lyric booklet.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Capitol, SN-16114) with lyric booklet.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Apple, EAS-80700) with gatefold cover and lyric booklet.
  3. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in November 1980 in the UK (M.f.P., MFP/TCMFP 50508).
  4. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 1991 in the US (Capitol, CDP 7 95637) with 3 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-issued on expanded compact disc in 1995 in Japan (EMI, TOCP-3167) with 3 bonus tracks.

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