Ringo Starr – Ringo’s Rotogravure (1976)

History: With Ringo’s contract to Apple and EMI completed, he chose Polydor and Atlantic to be his new home. With the change in label he also decided to try using a new producer for the album as well. He also once again called on help from his friends, including John, George, and Paul as well as Harry Nilsson, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, and Dr. John.

My own personal history and initial prediction: None of the song titles here ring any bells at all. I did notice this is another album with all three other Beatles contributing, so here’s hoping it’s a good one.

What I worked on while listening:

Review: It’s easy to review albums that are really great, or even ones that are spectacularly bad. It’s much harder to give a review of something that is just middle of the road. I enjoyed listening to this album for the most part, but there wasn’t anything on it that really grabbed my attention to excite me, and even the less than stellar tracks aren’t wincingly bad, they just aren’t very good.

Even the three Beatle collaborations are what I would call just okay. “Pure Gold” doesn’t even seem like a McCartney song to me, and I don’t think it suits Ringo very well. “I’ll Still Love You” does feel like George, and its instrumentation is really nice, but the lyrics are a bit generic and bland, at least the way Ringo sings them anyway. “Cooking (in the Kitchen of Love)” has a little bit of John’s feel to it, but you can definitely tell it was arranged by someone else who then took it in their own direction. The Clapton written track is pretty bad, and not only because of the horrible grammar used in the title, “This Be Called a Song.” It’s just really bland and uninteresting.

I will say that Ringo’s songwriting talents seem to have improved at least. “Cryin'” is a decent country song, and perhaps he was able to pull from the experience of his own divorce to write something a little more personal here. “Lady Gaye” is another decent country number, though it’s apparently so close to Clifford T Ward’s “Birmingham” that they had to give him songwriting credit. “Las Brisas” is also a decent track, where Ringo wisely brought in a Mariachi band to give it the proper sound.

The album ends on a strange note, with a track called “Spooky Weirdness.” It sounds like someone is doing either a Vincent Price or other ghost host impression, while others are fiddling around with various spooky sounding instruments. It feels less like a bit of fun and more like they didn’t quite have enough to fill up the LP, so they just added this on to the end of it.

I’ll admit this kind of blasé feeling is much of what I think of Ringo’s solo career as a whole. Not awful, but not particularly special either. I’m hoping things get a little more interesting at least now and then or I may have some difficulty when it gets down to just he and Paul trading releases in the future.

Next Time: George releases Thirty Three & 1/3.

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