So our old friend Ringo Starr is at it again! The ex-Beatle has released Ringo 2012, his 17th studio album. With superstar friends like Joe Walsh, Richard Page, Benmont Tench, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dave Stewart, Benmont Tench, Don Was and Edgar Winter on board, Ringo is fairly hands-on here, producing, as well as writing, playing drums and singing on the album.
The straight-ahead beat of “Anthem” opens this collection of nine songs. “Wings” is Ringo covering Ringo as this is a song he originally released on his 1977 album Ringo The 4th album. This is a slightly reggae version with Joe Walsh on guitar and Benmont Tench on keys. A cover of Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” showcases how strong Ringo’s voice is, limited as it is in range. Here, he gets some great backing vocals from Mr. Mister’s Richard Page. “Rock Island Line” is a cover as well, noteworthy because of Tench, who also ads some incredible piano on “Step Lightly,” probably one of the best tunes on the disc and one that sees Ringo’s drums nicely mixed upfront.
An equally wonderful “Wonderful” follows, featuring some truly tasty guitar playing from Kenny Wayne Shepherd. If any song here could be a lead-off single, this is the one. “In Liverpool” covers ground Ringo has mined before, but with Dave Stewart’s guitar interjections (he co-wrote the song with the drummer), plus Ann Marie Calhoun on violin countering Tench, you have some great musicians on what might have been a rather average tune.
“Slow Down,” which is not slow by any means, ends Ringo 2012, and we are out nice and easy with some perfect Joe Walsh slide (he co-wrote this one with Ringo) and Edgar Winter organ on a driving tune with a great chorus. The fun thing about Ringo Starr records is that you know exactly what you are going to get: Plenty of top players whom are either friends with the drummer or have joined him in his yearly All Starr Band jaunts. And you know the guy can play those distinctive no-frills beats like nobody else while his voice cuts through on those catchy tunes as one of the most recognizable in rock. All of which leaves little to not like about Ringo Starr and Ringo 2012.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.