Like every other person on the planet, I am a fan of the Beatles. The Fab Four created some of the world's greatest music, and I love them for it. Yet while I love and own every piece of music John, Paul, George, and Ringo ever officially released (and a good bit of what they didn't) as a unit, I have listened to very little of what they created as singular entities.
I have very little in the way of an explanation for that, except to say that I was born well after the Beatles broke up and I'm still trying to catch up. As the Beatles they released a collection of the world's most recognizable and praised music, as solo artist, well, that's not quite the case. For the most part the solo albums seem to be recognized as enjoyable tunes, but mostly contain nothing mandatory.
This goes double for Ringo who generally gets the short end of the Beatles stick, especially by me as he is the only Beatle of whom I own none of his solo material. That probably says more for Ringo's lack of songwriting credits on the Beatles discography and my own lack of appreciation for drummers than it does about Ringo himself.
That being said I'm not sure why I jumped on Ringo's new album, Liverpool 8. As with the others solo albums I have heard, Liverpool 8 is generally a case of the Beatles being better as a band than any of their individual parts. It is a nice album, great even in parts, but it simply can't come close to matching anything by the Beatles in their prime.
It starts off well enough with the opening number, “Liverpool 8” which is a mid-tempo, nostalgic, acoustic rocker. It is fun to sing along with in the same toe tapping way that Neil Young's “Buffalo Springfield Again” was.
The next few songs are darker and harder edged than that, but rock out well enough. The only clunker on the album is “Gone are the Days” which sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of a Joel Schumacher film circa 1987.
Things lighten up after that with fun and waltz-y “Give it a Try” which puts Ringo right back into “Love is All You Need” territory. Most of the album, in fact, contains that whisical bit of philosophy that truly believes that love and a couple of good tunes can truly make the world a better place. That might seem a little hackneyed to this new cynical world, but its pleasant enough to these ears.
Perhaps the best number, is the last one “RU Ready?” which finds Ringo sounding like he's still on that Yellow Submarine somewhere under the Sea of Green, but with a clap-along chorus, saloon style piano and some fancy banjo picking it makes for a rollicking good time.
Liverpool 8 won't make any one stop listening to Abbey Road or Revolver, but it is a very nice collection of pop songs. Not bad for a Beatle all on his own, even if he is the sad one.