Ringo Starr – What’s My Name (2019)

History: Ringo recorded what he decided would most likely be his last full length album at his home studio along with frequent collaborators Joe Walsh, Paul, Dave Stewart, and more. He made the decision to cover John’s “Grow Old With Me” after being given copies of the original recordings by producer Jack Douglas.

My own personal history and initial prediction: I purposefully didn’t look up that Ringo cover of “Grow Old With Me” before now in an effort to listen to it in the progression of Ringo’s career, and it’s definitely the one on the album I’m most curious about. Second in line is his cover of “Money (That’s What I Want).” Here’s hoping there’s a hidden gem somewhere in the rest of the songs.

Review: This album started off really strong. “Gotta Get Up to Get Down” is a really fun way to start the album. The words are a little silly at points, especially Joe Walsh’s lines about people being on Facebook, but it’s such a solid groove of a song that you can largely ignore the lyrics and just have a good time with it. From there on the album is a bit of a roller coaster ride, with a fair mix of solid tunes, bland generic rock that Ringo often fills his albums with, and some really good love songs.

“Grow Old With Me” turned out really nice, though to me it didn’t feel like any kind of Beatle collaboration. Paul is there, but his backing vocals aren’t super distinctive to let you know that it’s him, and the inclusion of themes from “Here Comes the Sun” to also include George are light enough to not really stand out. But it was a sweet song when John wrote it, and Ringo does a good job with it. On the opposite end is “Money.” I’m not bothered by the musical arrangement for it, but the choice to put autotune on his vocals in a way that frequently cuts in and out is very strange to hear and not appealing at all. If that was their attempt to modernize the song, I don’t think they think much of modern music.

“Better Days,” “Thank God for Music,” and “Send Love Spread Peace” all follow a common theme, that which Ringo is now best known for of peace and love. I have no argument with the lyrics at all, but the music just isn’t that special. “Magic” is occasionally awkward lyrically but is otherwise a really sweet love song that I can imagine him singing to Barbara.

The album does end on a highlight though with the title track “What’s My Name.” I can definitely see how this started as a brief fun thing he was doing at All Starr Band concerts and was expanded into a full song. It’s a lot of fun and I couldn’t help but smile as I heard him say “What’s my name? Ringo!” I’d actually say it’s the one song off the album definitely worth checking out and I can see why they chose it as a single.

I can definitely understand Ringo’s decision to stick to EPs from here on out. This one was super brief, less than 40 minutes, and honestly felt like a pretty good length. A lot of attempts in the past seemed to end up with filler on the albums, so keeping them short and sweet makes a lot of sense.

Next Time: Paul finishes out the trilogy with McCartney III.

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