Release Date: Mar 31, 2015
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock
Paul McCartney creates a splash whenever he releases a new album, but Ringo Starr stays a bit on the sidelines, cranking out records and tours to a smaller, dedicated audience. Starr is under no delusion that he might suddenly have a Top 10 smash: he's happy to be a working musician, which is all he ever wanted to be. After all, he was a working musician before he was a Beatle, a beginning he celebrates on "Rory & the Hurricanes," the opening track of Postcards from Paradise, his 18th studio solo album.
Believe it or not, it’s not necessarily easy being a Beatle. That’s especially true when you’re Ringo Starr and you’ve always been overshadowed by your three enormously talented bandmates. After all, they were the ones who wrote and sang the songs, which left you with a mere handful of tunes for you to hang your now-thinning mop top on. Not that those songs didn’t leave a lasting impression—any artist would be pleased to have such numbers as “With a Little Help From My Friends”, “Yellow Submarine” or “Photograph” to tout time and time again.
It's been more than 50 years since Ringo Starr declared himself a fan of Beethoven — "especially his poems." But all that time, he's reigned as one of rock & roll's most beloved sages. Postcards From Paradise, his 18th solo effort, is a masterful summary of Ringo-ness: his cheer, his cheek, his wisdom. He gets a little help from old friends like Joe Walsh and Todd Rundgren — no Kanye or Rihanna on this track list — and builds the title tune out of Beat-les quips: "It's like I said the night before/I'll love you when I'm 64." Best of all is "Rory and the Hurricanes," celebrating his pre-Beatles band — the one that made Ringo a star in Liverpool when the other three Fabs were nobodies.
To say Ringo Starr isn't exactly known as a wordsmith would be a colossal understatement considering the fact that the best song he ever wrote is literally about an octopus swimming around in the ocean. But of all the third-grade-level lyrical whoppers on his 18th studio album, Postcards from Paradise, one stands out as particularly preposterous: “I'm looking forward/Not looking back,” from a noxiously sentimental piece of romantic balladry plainly titled “Not Looking Back.” This claim, of course, is patently absurd, as the lyrics to the album's inane title track consist of a Mad Libs-style hodgepodge of Beatles song titles. “Glass Onion” this ain't.
Criticising the national treasure that is Ringo Starr is akin to kicking a well-loved dog: you really don’t want to do it. But given that even his earliest solo long-players (this is the 18th) were very much accomplished with a little help from his friends, the blame must be communal. So step forward Steve Lukather, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Richard Page, Wally Palmer and Gregg Bissonette, the veterans who together have helped determine what a Beatle’s album should sound like in 2015.