Ringo Starr – Liverpool 8 (2008)

History: Ringo began work on an album with his recent songwriting team including Mark Hudson, but Hudson abruptly left to take a job as musical director on a reality TV show, The One: Making a Music Star. Ringo felt so betrayed by this departure that he vowed to never work with Hudson again. Instead Dave Stewart, formerly of the Eurythmics, was brought in to help Ringo finish the album.

My own personal history and initial prediction: After being so disappointed with Ringo’s last album and having no memory of any of the songs listed, I went ahead and read the background on the album first before listening. I’m a casual fan of the Eurythmics and I’m familiar with Dave’s song “Party Town” that he did for the Flatliners soundtrack, so I’m interested to see how much of his style may be present on this album. A slight change of pace might just be what Ringo needed at this point.

Review: The change in production and music choices from bringing in Stewart was pretty noticeable on this album. While not dark or melancholy, there is definitely a little more moodiness to the album in places, more synthesizers and other tones that we haven’t really heard from Ringo before. While lyrically it’s about the same as his usual caliber (by which I mean good but not great), I started to really like the sound of this album a lot more than I have the last few. The trio in a row of “For Love,” “Now That She’s Gone Away,” and “Gone Are The Days” really had me excited for a bit there, that’s how much the musical style was growing on me.

It’s not present on every track, though that also helps it to not sound too homogeneous after a while. “Harry’s Song” is a lot of fun with its throwback changing style and lyrics that are a wonderful tribute to Harry Nilsson. “R U Ready?” also won me over. While I’m rarely a fan of the banjo, the way he takes what sounds like a typical traditional religious song and turns it into something more all encompassing with mentions of Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna is a fun variation on the theme. “Pasodobles” even works better than you might expect a Spanish themed song sung by Ringo to be. It truly feels like Ringo was embracing new and different styles here, and maybe the addition of Stewart was just the breath of fresh air he needed to come out with something a little different than before.

While not every track is a winner, I feel like there’s enough going on here that most people are bound to find at least one song they would like. Definitely worth giving a try if you normally pass Ringo releases on by. And at this point that’s got to be worth doing to at least take an occasional break from Paul if you’re listening to these in chronological order like I am.

Next Time: The Fireman’s final (for now?) release, Electric Arguments.


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