Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ringo Starr

  • Sentimental Journey [Apple, 1970] C-
  • Beaucoups of Blues [Apple, 1970] B
  • Ringo [Apple, 1973] B-
  • Goodnight Vienna [Apple, 1974] B-
  • Blast from Your Past [Capitol, 1975] B+
  • Ringo's Rotogravure [Atlantic, 1976] C
  • Ringo the 4th [Atlantic, 1977] D
  • Starr Struck: The Best of Ringo Starr, Vol. 2 [Rhino, 1989] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sentimental Journey [Apple, 1970]
For over-fifties and Ringomaniacs: the reports that he did this collection of standards for his Mums are obviously true. C-

Beaucoups of Blues [Apple, 1970]
Finally he gets to impersonate Buck Owens for an entire record. I admit that over the distance he doesn't merely sing flat--sometimes the voice threatens to fade away altogether. But both the songs and Pete Drake's production bespeak a high-quality obsession--the music sticks. And Ringo is still Ringo, which means he's good at making himself felt. B

Ringo [Apple, 1973]
This is not a Beatles album but a Ringo album--a likable curiosity. Ringo's droll sincerity was always good for a change of pace; his songs were wonderful in context. Here that context is provided by an occasional harmony (especially John's on "I'm the Greatest") that makes me long for much, much more. It might be different if the songs were all as good as "Photograph," but without a real singer to work with, Richard Perry cannot transmute questionable material into magic. And don't kid yourself--the Beatles could. B-

Goodnight Vienna [Apple, 1974]
The title tune is great Ringo, as is "No No Song," and he does well enough with the rest of this well-chosen material, the exceptions being the three tunes he had a hand in writing himself. But the supersession form is deadening. Beaucoups of Blues took some initiative. B-

Blast from Your Past [Capitol, 1975]
Though I wish John Lennon's "Goodnight Vienna" replaced "I'm the Greatest," Lennon's misbegotten attempt at a mock theme song for Ringo, basically this compilation is what might happen if you or I--or any innately unpretentious person with strong tastes in rock and roll and lots of smart pros helping out--were to spend five years putting together an album, with the false starts eliminated. It could only happen to an ex-Beatle, of course, but what the hell--it does include his great debut B side, "Early 1970," which could only have occurred to a passionate Beatle fan. B+

Ringo's Rotogravure [Atlantic, 1976]
This fellow definitely sounds like he could use a band. You think Leon Russell might drum one up? C

Ringo the 4th [Atlantic, 1977]
Less than three months after its release, the Ringo fan in me dutifully played this for a third and last time. Whereupon the journalist began to wonder how many people were buying such dreary music just because it was by a Beatle. And was both saddened and pleased to learn that the answer, for all practical purposes, was no one--it never got higher than 199 in Record World, which I'll bet was some statistician paying his respects. D

Starr Struck: The Best of Ringo Starr, Vol. 2 [Rhino, 1989]
I played this in the spirit of one more once, just in case I'd missed something--for instance, the Joe Walsh-produced Old Wave, released 1983 Canada-only, how sad. But whatever his charms as an ex-Beatle, he's been El Lay for most of his adult life, and even on rock and roll ditties drummed up by ex-Beatles George Harrison and Paul McCartney (not exactly surefire hitmakers, I know, though John Lennon's isn't much better), his dogged directness can't cut it. Better than Telly Savalas, but no match for George Harrison, or Joe Walsh. C

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]