From the time I was eight years old I’ve loved the Beatles’ music, both as a band, and as solo artists. Ringo was the Beatles drummer from 1962 to 1970. This is his eighteenth solo studio album, along with several live albums and compilations. Last year I finally got to see Ringo and His All Starr Band in concert. It was a great evening as Ringo and the band really seemed to enjoy each other and performing for their fans.
This album features eleven new songs, and arrives just a few months before Ringo turns 75 years old on July 7. Ringo will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, appropriately by Paul McCartney, the only other surviving Beatle.
The album was produced by Ringo, engineered by longtime collaborator Bruce Sugar, and recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles. As on his previous albums, he is joined by a number of guest stars, such as Joe Walsh, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, Richard Marx, Peter Frampton, Nathan East and Glen Ballard. The album features the first song that Ringo has written and recorded with the members of his All Starr Band “Islands in the Sun” – Steve Lukather, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Richard Page, Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette, who plays percussion, trumpet and steel drums on the song.
Below are a few comments about each song:
“Rory and the Hurricanes” – another of Ringo’s songs about the past, which I particularly enjoy. Those songs actually date way back to “Early 1970”, the b-side of an early single. This song, co-written with Dave Stewart, pays tribute to the band Ringo was in prior to joining the Beatles in 1962 when he replaced Pete Best on drums. It is a rocker featuring a pounding piano and doo-wop girl-group backing vocals. The song begins in Liverpool and takes in an early visit to Soho’s Denmark Street with the band he refers to as “you know who”.
We were sleeping on the floor living on bread and jam
Because we thought we’d hit the big time
We didn’t give a d***
We were Rory and the Hurricanes
“You Bring the Party Down” – co-written with Toto’s Steve Lukather. In this song, which includes a sitar, Ringo goes back and forth between a reggae-like feel and a driving rock beat. This has an uncharacteristically dark streak to it. It makes you wonder who he is singing about.
Still living off your memories of when you were in the band
When you’re around you bring the party down
“Bridges” – features brother-in-law Joe Walsh on a guitar solo.
Down every road we come to bridges.
Crossing bridges is the best way to grow.
“Postcards from Paradise” – co-written with Todd Rundgren, this song creatively uses Beatle and solo song titles in the song lyrics with a George Harrison sound-alike guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Ringo also plays keyboards on this song. Here’s an example, with the song title in italics:
It’s all too much my little child.
If you would be my honey pie
Eight days a week you will be mine
And getting better all the time
“Right Side of the Road” – is a positive, upbeat, feel-good song. Features guitar work from Ringo and Peter Frampton. Ringo encourages the listener to choose another direction and “try it on the right side on the right side of the road. “
“Not Looking Back” – a loving tribute to Barbara, his wife of nearly 34 years. Features violin work from Ann Marie Simpson.
“Bamboula” – co-written with Van Dyke Parks. Ringo has said that they were trying to create the impression of a marching band, so he played every drum that he had in the studio, including three huge, hundred-year-old drums that Joe Walsh sent him from Africa. The title comes from the bamboula, a drum that Africans were playing 200 years ago. Ringo plays a syncopated New Orleans–inspired snare/tom rhythm, and the song includes some horns and background vocals.
“Island in the Sun” – the first song written by the entire All-Starr Band. Features some good sax work and background vocals with a Caribbean groove.
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t forget about the past
Don’t really matter where I’ve been or what I’ve done
I keep searching for the island in the sun
“Touch and Go” – the closest to an early Beatles sound on the album. Ringo wrote the song with his longtime collaborator Gary Burr. The song is an upbeat song with an effective guitar solo, in which Ringo sings about new love:
I knew from the moment we said hello
It had to be more than touch and go.
“Confirmation” – features guitar work by Steve Dudas, who has been contributing to Ringo’s albums for several years. It’s a positive song that features a laid-back Motown groove, with an effective use of horns and background vocals. This could be another song about wife Barbara.
If I knew then what I know now
I do it all again with you anyhow
“Let Love Lead” – features Frampton and Gary Nicolson on guitars. Was reportedly considered as the title song for album. A strong closing song with the simple positive message of “let love lead”.
Ringo’s effective drumming is mixed prominently throughout this release and his vocals sound as good as ever. Several of these songs will sound good live. I thoroughly enjoyed this album.
I was first attracted to the now 69 year-old Van Morrison’s music when I heard his song “Whenever God Shines His Light” with Cliff Richard on Christian radio in 1989. That song, as well as “When Will I Learn to Live in God”? were included on Morrison’s excellent album Avalon Sunset. Although his later albums haven’t had the same spiritual flavor, I’ve enjoyed each of his albums since, and have seen him perform in one of his rare U.S. concerts.
In general, I’m not a fan of duet albums, live albums or “Greatest Hits” albums, instead preferring all new music from the artists I like. As a result, I wasn’t overly excited when I first heard about this new album. But it is a very good album which reminds me of John Fogerty’s 2013 I Wrote a Song for Everyone in concept, though Fogerty tended to focus on his most popular songs, while Morrison’s album focuses on some of his lesser known songs.
The 16 song album got its start when Morrison, the late Bobby Womack (whose appearance on “Some Peace of Mind” is one of his final studio recordings), Mavis Staples and Natalie Cole played the BluesFest at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2013. Morrison recorded songs with each of them, and completed songs with the other guests over the next year. The album is produced by Morrison, Don Was and Bob Rock. In some cases Morrison had songs in mind for the guest artists and in other cases, such as Michael Buble with “Real, Real Gone”, the album’s first single, the artist had a particular song they wanted to record from the 360 songs in his catalog.
The songs date from 1970’s “If I Ever Needed Someone” with Mavis Staples to 2012’s Born to Sing” with Chris Farlowe. Most of the songs come from Morrison’s 1980’s and 1990’s albums. He has said that the project was about both the fun of singing with artists he admires and also going back to songs that aren’t so well known.
Other artists who joined Morrison for the project include Stevie Winwood, Mark Knopfler, Georgie Fame, Morrison’s daughter Shana Morrison, Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, Taj Mahal, Clare Teal, PJ Proby (who joins Morrison for “Whatever Happened to PJ Proby”), Gregory Porter, George Benson (who Morrison recorded “Higher Than the World” live with Bensons’ band) and Joss Stone. Some of the artists I was very familiar with and a few I had not heard of before this album.
The album features the superb vocals of Morrison and his hand-picked guests, is well produced and the musicianship stellar. Since this album has come out I’ve been going back to listen to a lot of Morrison’s earlier music. I hope the new album results in others doing the same.
- “Ima Just Do It” from KB. Listen to KB’s new song from his upcoming album, featuring two times Masters champion golfer Bubba Watson. KB’s new album Tomorrow We Live will be released April 21. You can listen to it in its entirety this week on iTunes Radio First Play. Check it out!
- New Matt Redman Album. Unbroken Praise, which was recently recorded live in the Abbey Road studios in London, will be released June 16.
- Famous Irish Sons Pay Tribute to Their Amazing Dads. U2’s Bono is among the men who have paid tribute to their fathers for the Irish Hospice Foundation. They have all contributed a photo of themselves with their dads, and a piece of writing about their relationship, for the Irish Hospice Foundation book, Sons and Fathers.
- Paul’s Letter to the Romans Set to Music. Trevin Wax interviews Cody Curtis, a composer and the Worship Arts Director at Union University. Curtis has completed a new album based on Paul’s letter to the Romans.
- Millennials and Reconciliation. Here is the video of Trip Lee’s talk from the ERLC Summit on the Gospel and Racial Reconciliation. The transcript from the message is also included.
- Lecrae on GMA. Did you see Lecrae perform “All I Need is You” recently on Good Morning America?
- “Welcome to America” Video. Here’s Lecrae’s video for “Welcome to America” from his Anomaly album.
- New James Taylor Album. James Taylor returns with Before This World on June 16. This is first album of new songs since October Road, released in 2002 – yes, 13 years ago! Recorded primarily at The Barn in Western Massachusetts, the 10-track album will feature James’s legendary Band: Jimmy Johnson, Steve Gadd, Michael Landau, Larry Goldings, Luis Conte, Andrea Zonn, Arnold McCuller, David Lasley and Kate Markowitz, as well as special guests Yo-Yo Ma and Sting. If you pre-order the album, you get the download for the first single “Today, Today, Today”. Taylor played that song, as well as three others from the new album when we saw him in a June 27, 2014 concert at the Ravinia Festival. Can’t wait for the new album.
- Rory and the Hurricanes Ringo Starr talks about the new song from his album Postcards from Paradise in which he sings about the band he was in before he joined the Beatles.
- Ethan Hawke and Jimmy Fallon do Bob Dylan Lullabies. Did you see this recently on The Tonight Show?
- You can try to kill my hope and place it in a grave but it won’t stay there. Jesus lives. Lecrae
- The resurrection doesn’t just give us hope because it’s a nice story. It gives us life because it really happened. Trip Lee
- Sometimes racism may be more subtle than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful. Trip Lee