[Review] Ringo Starr: Ringo’s Rotogravure (1976)

Ringo’s last two records sounded like non-stop parties. This time, he invited the right people but they brought all the wrong things.

Kronomyth 6.0: The writing on the wall.

At first glance, Ringo’s Rotogravure had all the ingredients for another hit album: contributions from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Eric Clapton, a readymade hit (“A Dose of Rock ‘N’ Roll”), another golden oldie (the Lennon favorite, “Hey Baby”) and a little help from a lot of friends including Peter Frampton and the Brecker brothers. On closer inspection, however, Rotogravure was a weak copy of Ringo Starr’s last two records. The trouble rests squarely with Ringo, who hands in a performance so perfunctory it would make Krusty the Clown blush.

In what could be perceived as a vampiric move, Ringo robs Ring o’Records artist Carl Grossman of “A Dose of Rock ‘N’ Roll” and contributes three songs, one of them co-written with his girlfriend at the time (Nancy Andrews), none of them any good. His version of “Hey Baby” is cold-bloodedly bad. And what Ringo did to Harrison’s “I’ll Still Love You,” a leftover from the fertile All Things Must Pass sessions, is a crime; no wonder George later sued him over it. Then there’s the left-it-unnamed-and-didn’t-even-bother-to-use-good-grammar “This Be Called A Song” from Clapton, which at least is not (because it could not possibly be) as bad as it sounds. On the brighter side of things, Lennon’s “Cookin’ In The Kitchen of Love” is a treat and Paul McCartney’s “Pure Gold” makes for a nice trinket. As the last of the Ringo records to feature The Beatles, Ringo’s Rotogravure will still hold appeal for collectors, although it’s clearly the weakest of the three.

Original LP Version

A1. A Dose of Rock ‘N’ Roll (Carl Grossman) (3:24)
A2. Hey Baby (Margaret Cobb/Bruce Channel) (3:10)
A3. Pure Gold (Paul McCartney) (3:13)
A4. Cryin’ (Vini Poncia/Richard Starkey) (3:17)
A5. You Don’t Know Me At All (Dave Jordan) (3:15)
B1. Cookin’ (In The Kitchen of Love) (John Lennon) (3:37)
B2. I’ll Still Love You (George Harrison) (2:56)
B3. This Be Called A Song (Eric Clapton)  (3:13)
B4. Las Brisas (Nancy Andrews/Richard Starkey) (3:33)
B5. Lady Gaye (Vini Poncia/Richard Starkey/Clifford T. Gaye) (2:56)
B6. Spooky Weirdness (1:15)

Original 8-track version
A1. A Dose Of Rock ‘N’ Roll
A2. You Don’t Know Me At All
B1. Cryin’
B2. This Be Called A Song
B3. Lady Gaye
C1. Hey Baby
C2. I’ll Still Love You
C3. Pure Gold
D1. Cookin’ (In The Kitchen Of Love)
D2. Las Brisas
D3. Spooky Weirdness

The Players

Ringo Starr (vocals, drums, maracas), John Jarvis (keyboards), Jim “Lightnin” Keltner (drums), Vini Poncia (background vocals, vocals), Lon Van Eaton (guitar), Klaus Voormann (bass) with Joe Bean (background vocals), Michael Brecker (tenor sax), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Eric Clapton (guitar on track 8), Lewis Delgatto (baritone sax), George Devens (congas, marimbas), Jesse Ed Davis (guitar), King Errisson (percussion on track 6), Peter Frampton (guitar on track 1), Los Galleros (Mariachi band on track 9), Jane Getz (keyboards, piano), Robert Greenidge (steel drums on track 8), Dutch Helmer (background vocals), Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel on track 4), Danny Kortchmar (guitar), David Lasley (background vocals), Will Lee (bass on track 6), John Lennon (piano on track 6), Cooker Lo Presti (bass), The Mad Mauries (background vocals and claps on track 2), Melissa Manchester (background vocals), Arif Mardin (electric piano, ARP string ensemble, string & horn arrangements), Lou Marini (tenor sax on track 10), Paul & Linda McCartney (background vocals on track 3), The “Fab” Harry Nilsson (background vocals on track 10), Gene Orloff (concert master for strings), Mac Rebennack (keyboards, guitar, organ), Alan Rubin (trumpet on track 1), Alan Young (trumpet on track 2), George Young (tenor sax). Produced by Arif Mardin; recording and mix engineered by Lew Hahn.

Did You Know?

  • The elpee was originally issued with a magnifying glass, which allowed you to better read the graffitoed Apple offices door on the back cover.
  • Cilla Black recorded a version of “I’ll Still Love You (When Every Song Is Sung),” which Harrison originally wrote with Shirley Bassey in mind.
  • This album would be the last recording of John Lennon until Double Fantasy was released in 1980.

The Pictures

Album cover photography by David Alexander.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on September 17, 1976 in the UK (Polydor, 2302 040, 3100 317, 3801 180), on September 27, 1976 in the US and Canada (Atlantic, SD/CS/TP-18193), and in 1976 in Australia, Brazil, Germany and New Zealand (Polydor, 2310 473), Japan (Polydor, MPF-1030), Venezuela (Polydor, 30.210) and Yugoslavia (RTB, LP-555637); reached #28 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in June 1982 in the UK (Polydor, 2485 235/3201 743).
  2. Re-released on compact disc on August 18, 1992 in the US (Atlantic, 82417).
  3. Re-packaged with Ringo The 4th on 2-for-1 compact disc in Russia (CD-Maximum, CDM-343).

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