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Review: Ringo Starr: Liverpool 8

Ringo rejoins Capitol for a look back -- and leaves his latest band behind

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Ringo Starr: Liverpool 8

Ringo Starr: Liverpool 8

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For his 14th studio album (and third in just the past five years), Ringo Starr breaks some newer alliances and reforms some old ones, heading back to Capitol/EMI and jettisoning his chief collaborator for the last decade or so, producer Mark Hudson. But he's also looking back on his upbringing -- a sure sign that he's ready to face his own mortality.

About this CD

  • Release date: January 15, 2007
  • Label: Capitol
  • Catalog number: 17388
  • Produced by Ringo Starr, Mark Hudson, Dave Stewart
  • Orchestral Arrangements by Suzie Katayama
  • Engineered by Gary Burr, Steve Dudas, Bruce Sugar, Ned Douglas
  • Mastered by Ted Jensen
  • Musicians: Ringo Starr: Organ, Percussion, Drums, Vocals, Background Vocals, Hand claps; Gary Burr: Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals, Whistling, Hand claps; Steve Dudas: Electric Guitar, Background Vocals, Classical Guitar, Hand claps; Mark Hudson: Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Harmonica, Piano, Bongos, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals, Mellotron, Hand claps; Sean Hurley, Dave Way: Bass; Zac Rae: Keyboards; Bruce Sugar, Brent Carpenter, Keith Allison: Background Vocals, Hand claps

Pros

  • The new approach (and new producer Dave Stewart) make this one simultaneously more accessible and less shallow than previous outings.
  • This is Ringo's look back at his hometown, and what happened when he left it; no small event for Beatlemaniacs.
  • Stewart seems to have singlehandedly raised the bar for both Ringo's vocals and songwriting.

Cons

  • He's still a marginal solo talent -- but he's definitely reaching his peak here.

My review

According to Mark Hudson, ex-Hudson Brothers member and Ringo's chief producer/collaborator since his return to sobriety, the decision to part ways was set off by Mark's refusal to go digital during the recording of this album. Ringo himself says Mark decided to go on tour instead of finishing Liverpool 8, which constituted a breach of loyalty. Either way, ex-Eurythmics member Dave Stewart, no stranger behind the board, has taken over, and the result is... well, much the same thing the ex-Beatles drummer's been doing the past decade. You liked Vertical Man, Ringorama, or Choose Love? You'll enjoy this.

There is a difference this time out that shows up in more than just the liner notes, however. For his 14th album, Ringo has decided to follow his old mate Paul McCartney's lead and look back at his past. This is smart marketing, of course -- any Beatles' story is inextricably tied to the working-class port town of the title, and the group started looking back with love at childhood at least since Sgt. Pepper -- but Ringo, the oldest Beatle, simply hasn't got that many years left in him, making now as good a time as any to get back to where he once belonged and see what it all means. "Liverpool, I left you," he sings on the title track and first single, developed by Stewart as a coming-to-terms of sorts, complete with a very Beatlesque chamber music feel. "But I never let you down." Could this be Ring's own "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina"? The mind reels.

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