Postcards From Paradise
Here’s a brand new album by Ringo Starr – and it’s his best since back around the time of 1992’s Time Takes Time, but it earns that title, “best”, by virtue of not being (quite) as shitty as any of the albums he’s released since. And though you probably weren’t counting – and who would bother? – he has, perhaps almost staggeringly, released a half-dozen albums this millennium.
Just cruising along, ole Ringo. A tour with his celebrity/has-been pals, and then an album. Another tour, a wee jaunt across the boards, bringing a music-hall type celebration and sea-shanty earnestness to sloppy rock’n’roll covers and his Beatles perennials.
Good on him I guess. He ain’t hurtin’ anyone. And he’s making these records for himself as much as for anyone else – at least I hope so.
Postcards isn’t a great record – it’s just better than his shittiest offerings. But it does have a glimmer of hope because the latest version of his All-Starr Band stayed on to record, so you’ve got Todd Rundgren and new brother-in-law Joe Walsh and Steve Lukather and Peter Frampton and Benmont Tench and Gregg Bissonette and other more than capable players. In fact the second half of the album sees a real lift in spirits and across tunes like Confirmation, Let Love Lead and Bamboula you can enjoy what the band brings to the table.
The first half does all the now-standard jokey Starkey things. The opening song, Rory and the Hurricanes, is another chapter in Ringo’s Autobiographical Songs No One Really Wants to Hear But We’ll Smile Politely series. And the shoehorning of so many Beatles song-titles into the title track is the sort of thing where you can almost see Rundgren’s permanent smirk shifting towards demented glee but it feels like a former Beatle doing word association-like memory games, possibly after a stroke. Musically, it lurches and stumbles like a bad, bad drunk when he’s 64.
Oh Ringo. You really shouldn’t bother. And I’m sure that’s why so many still love you and give you the free pass.
So far from the drum pioneer and innovator here, it’s really a bit like the monkey still dancing after the organ-grinder ran off with the cap full of coins. But fuck it. It’s a bit like the old SNL tagline. He’s Ringo Starr. And we’re not.