Photograph: The Very Best Of Ringo Starr
REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/13/2007
It’s easy to forget just how entertaining Ringo Starr is.
Yes, that’s an “is,” not a “was.” You may be tempted to think of Ringo in the past tense -- and this collection certainly encourages that -- but Ringo is more than just the beat keeper from one of the world’s most popular bands of all time.
Ringo had a good dozen or so real hits, particularly in the early days of his solo career, but even since then his musical output has been consistent, save for the best-forgotten Stop And Smell The Roses from 1981. That was a true stinker. “Wrack My Brain” from that debacle shows up here.
By “consistent,” I mean you know what you’re getting with a Ringo Starr album because it's always the same. His voice is not the greatest, he puts a fair amount of filler in his albums, and yet he still brings you along, smiling, glad to just be there.
On this collection that attempts to cover the breadth of his career (from Beaucoups Of Blues through Choose Love), Ringo hits that mark of consistency on every tune. And I even found myself, as the end approached, wishing for another song or two from his late career renaissance albums Time Takes Time (1993) and Ringo Rama (2003) -- say, “Don’t Know A Thing About Love” or “Memphis In Your Mind.”
The Very Best opens with Ringo’s biggest hit, “Photograph,” from his 1973 Ringo project. Co-written by George Harrison (who adds vocals and acoustic guitar, as well), the song doesn’t sound dated. Sure, it is a golden oldie after all. But dated? Nope.
Harrison was not the only high-profile guest on Ringo’s many albums. Flip through the credits from just these songs and you also see John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Stephen Stills, Billy Preston, Harry Nilsson, Michael Brecker, Peter Frampton, Danny Kortchmar and Buck Owens. Apparently, everyone loved the guy.
All of these guests were merely the precursors to Ringo’s mid-career Ringo and the All Starrs band albums -- none of which are represented here, since they were largely live discs. Owens, in fact, provides one of the pleasant oddball moments on this disc with the duet “Act Naturally” from Owens’ 1989 disc of the same name. After all, what would a Ringo album be without some oddball moments?
So what are Ringo’s hits? You can probably name two or three, but, in addition to “Photograph,” there was also “It Don’t Come Easy,” “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine),” “Back Off Boogaloo,” “Oh, My My,” “Only You (And You Alone),” “Snookeroo,” “No-No Song,” “A Dose of Rock and Roll,” and “(It’s All Down To) Goodnight Vienna.” All of which are here.
In addition, this collection adds a couple rarities (“I’m The Greatest” and “Early 1970”) and one song from each of Ringo’s later career projects, “Weight Of The World (Time Takes Time), “King Of Broken Hearts” (Vertical Man), “Never Without You” (Ringo Rama) and “Fading In And Fading Out” (Choose Love). Then a couple others -- for a total of 20 entertaining and representative cuts from, arguably, the world’s most recognized drummer.
Overall, this tells the story quite well and may even entice Beatle fans who never thought of Ringo's solo career as worth looking into.