Ringo Starr: Ringo The 4th (1977)

Kronomyth 7.0: ROYAL FLUSH. Ringo’s recording career deserved to be taken seriously, but was the world ready to accept Ringo as a serious musical artist? This is the question that Ringo the 4th asked. The answer, in case you’re wondering, is 162. Gone are the boozy covers, the Beatles and the humble humor that made his previous albums so endearing. In their stead is a professional studio band, top-notch production from Arif Mardin and Ringo’s now-emphatic (if slightly grim) delivery. But where’s lovable old Ringo in all this? “Drowning In The Sea of Love” is dire, disco and definitely not what Ringo’s legions had come to expect from the author of “A Dose of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Oh My My.” Without a likeable single to latch on to, drown is exactly what Ringo the 4th did, becoming his first album not to enter the US Top 100. In its defense (and I can’t help myself), the album isn’t that much worse than Rotogravure. There’s nothing on Ringo the 4th as infectious as “Cookin’ (In The Kitchen of Love),” nothing as awful as “I’ll Still Love You.” Meanwhile, Ringo the songwriter emerges more clearly this time, gaining credibility with a 60/40 split (in concert with Vini Poncia) that shows the man was capable of writing an album’s worth of material (although not a particularly good album). Yet without a tasty morsel like “Photograph” or “A Dose of Rock ‘n’ Roll” to tease them, music listeners weren’t going to buy a Ringo Starr album that had nothing to do with The Beatles. I was going to tell you that if you’d already bought Yoko Ono’s Seasons of Glass and It’s Alright, that Ringo the 4th wasn’t any worse but, really, you’ve probably suffered enough, so best to just skip this one.

Original LP Version
A1. Drowning In The Sea of Love (Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff) (5:08)
A2. Tango All Night (Tom Seufert/Steve Hague) (2:55)
A3. Wings (3:24)
A4. Gave It All Up (4:40)
A5. Out On The Streets (4:25)
B1. Can She Do It Like She Dances (Steve Duboff/Gerry Robinson) (3:12)
B2. Sneaking Sally Through The Alley (Allen R. Toussaint) (4:03)
B3. It’s No Secret (3:40)
B4. Gypsies In Flight (3:01)
B5. Simple Love Song (2:57)

All songs written by Richard Starkey and Vini Poncia unless noted.

* The 8-track featured a different track listing as follows: Drowning In The Sea of Love / Sneaking Sally Through The Alley // Out On The Streets / Gave It All Up // Wings / Tango All Night / Gypsies In Flight // Can She Do It Like She Dances / It’s No Secret / Simple Love Song.

The Players
Ringo Starr (lead vocals & drums), Steve “It’s The Good Life” Gadd (drums), Don Grolnick (keyboards), Tony Levin (bass), Jeff Mironov (guitars), David Spinozza (lead guitar), John Tropea (guitars) with Maxine Anderson (background vocals), Joe Bean (background vocals), Ken Bischel (synthesizer), Michael Brecker (tenor solos), Randy Brecker (brass & reeds leader, trumpet), David Bromberg (electric guitar on track 9), Don Brooks (harmonica), Robin Clark (background vocals), Cornell Dupree (guitars on track 7), Dick Fegy (acoustic guitar on track 9), Jimmy Gilstrap (background vocals), Debra Gray (background vocals), Jeff Gutcheon (electric piano on track 9), Duitch Helmer (background vocals), Brie Howard (backgroud vocals), Danny Kortchmar (guitars on track 10), David Lasley (background vocals), Rebecca Louis (background vocals), Melissa Manchester (background vocals), Nick Marrero (percussion on track 7), Arnold McCuller (background vocals), Hugh McDonald (bass on track 9), Bette Midler (background vocals on track 2), Gene Orloff (concert master), Lynn Pitney (background vocals), Vini Poncia (background vocals), Chuck Rainey (bass), Richard Tee (electric piano and clavinet on track 7), Luther Vandross (background vocals), Lon Van Eaton (guitars), Marietta Waters (background vocals). Produced by Arif Mardin; engineered and mixed by Lew Hahn; additional engineering by Gene Paul.

Did You Know?

  • The album’s title refers to the fact that this is the fourth “true” Ringo record, since the labels weren’t counting the first two elpees (which were essentially cover albums) or the recent compilation, Blast From Your Past.
  • The cover photo was taken by Ringo’s girlfriend at the time, photographer Nancy Andrews.

The Pictures
Cover and liner photography by Nancy Andrews. Design by Kosh.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and 8-track on September 20, 1977 in the UK and worldwide (Polydor, 2310 556), on September 26, 1977 in the US (Atlantic, SD/TP 19108) and in 1977 in Canada (Atlantic, KSD 19108), Israel (Polydor, 2344 069) and Japan (Polydor, MPF-1104); reached #162 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette on August 18, 1992 in the US (Atlantic, 82416).

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