is the title of Ringo Starr
's third and best solo album.
While supposedly a solo album, the album only works because Ringo was able to draw on the most talented selection of friends one could imagine, to draw attention away from his honking vocals.
I'm The Greatest, the opener, is the closest we would get to a reunion of The Beatles until Free As A Bird came out 22 years later. A tongue in cheek song written by John Lennon (and one of a number of tracks on the album to reference the Beatles' legacy, with lyrics like "I was in the greatest show on earth/ for what it was worth" and "My name is Billy Shears/You know it has been for so many years"), Lennon plays piano and adds backing vocals, while George Harrison adds guitar. The band is rounded off by Beatle associates Billy Preston on organ and Klaus Voorman (the bassist throughout the album) on bass. Apparently George Harrison enjoyed the session for this song so much he suggested forming a full band with this line-up, but Lennon thought he was joking. Oh well...
Have You Seen My Baby, one of the weaker tracks on the album, is an R&B flavoured stomper, originally written and recorded by Randy Newman but with more than a little of Fats Domino's style to it. Marc Bolan of T-Rex adds guitar, and James Booker plays some excellent New Orleans piano.
Photograph, a song co-written by Starr and Harrison, was a fairly big hit at the time, and it's easy to see why. A glorious little pop melody with yearning lyrics ('All I have is a photograph and I realise you're not coming back any more'), this has a lot of the flavour of Harrison's All Things Must Pass album. Harrison contributes guitars and backing vocals to this, while Jack Nitzsche contributes, as always, the perfect arrangement.
Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond), written entirely by Harrison, follows. A wonderfully joyous little cod-bluegrass number, this features Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of The Band, as well as Harrison and Starr.
Side 1 closes with one of the worst tracks on the album, You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful (And You're Mine). A cover of the 50s classic, Starr massacres this one, but it's almost saved by Harry Nilsson's backing vocals and Paul McCartney's wonderfully silly 'mouth sax solo', which consists of McCartney imitating a sax with his voice. Surprisingly, this was a big hit...
Side 2's opener, Oh My My, is simillarly dire. Written by Starr and Vini Poncia (formerly of The Tradewinds, Poncia contributes guitar and vocals to many songs on this album), even Billy Preston's keyboards and Martha Reeves and Merry Clayton on backing vocals can't save this clodhopping piece of nonsense about a 'boogie-woogie remedy'.
Step Lightly,, a solo Starr composition, fares better, but is still hardly wonderful. Steve Cropper's guitar is wasted on this.
Six O'Clock saves side two of the album on its own. A song by Paul and (supposedly) Linda McCartney, this is one of McCartney's lost gems. Essentially a McCartney track (he adds backing vocal, piano and some wonderful Moog touches as well as arranging the orchestra) this has a wonderful soaring melody as good as any he's written, while still managing to stay within Starr's range. An utterly gorgeous song, that actually puts most of McCartney's solo work at this time (such as the execrable Red Rose Speedway) to shame.
Devil Woman is another execrable Starkey/Poncia tune. Ringo is here trying to be a hard rocker, but it doesn't suit him, and the terrible lyrics ('You're like the devil with horns in your head/The only way I'll get you is to get you in bed') don't help either, although they do contain another Beatle reference (to Sexy Sadie). This just shows up how bad this song is though.
You And Me (Babe) is a song by George Harrison (who adds guitar) and Beatle roadie and hanger-on Mal Evans. Not much of a song (though once again featuring a great Jack Nitzsche arrangement), Starr does a passable job on this, but it's really just an excuse for a spoken section in which he thanks the musicians who worked on the album.
This album is actually very worth getting - I'd even put it in the ten best Beatle solo albums - but it's the only Starr solo album you should even consider. It was all downhill from here...