Ringo Starr: A Beatle and his friends at play

Aug 2, 2001 (Updated Nov 8, 2007)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:A must for Beatles fanatics, with plenty of Ringo's friends helping out.

Cons:The usual sound problems of live recordings.

The Bottom Line: For the most part, some fine performances of classic hits of the '60s and '70s by some of the biggest acts of those decades.

Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, is currently on tour with the seventh version of his All-Starr Band (which includes Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople fame), has released this anthology of his previous six tours between 1989 and 2000.

The former drummer for The Beatles has recreated "Ringo Starr And His All-Starr Band" with each tour, bringing in a different, diverse group of pop music's biggest stars for each tour.

I saw the second tour in Indianapolis in 1992. I must admit to being in awe of seeing a Beatle on stage. That year, Ringo was backed by Todd Rundgren, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmidt, Nils Lofgren, Dave Edmunds and Burton Cummings.

Though Ringo gets most of the stage time, each artist backing him gets to perform two of their songs on stage (a flip of a coin decides who gets to do an extra third song of their own, and if Ringo's not feeling well, you might luck into three or four songs from each artist).

That tour included seeing Todd Rundgren and Nils Lofgren, guitars in hand, running up stacks of speakers to stand above Ringo as he sang. It seemed like all the band members were performing as a unit, just happy to be on stage with one of The Beatles. For me, the performances by Burton Cummings ("American Woman" and "No Sugar Tonight") were the non-Ringo highlights of the evening.

For this album, you get the highlights from his previous six tours, which are the live performances that have seen some of Ringo's tours hit the United States, Europe, Japan and Russia (he was the first ex-Beatle to tour Russia). Last year, he toured only the United States.

The songs and performers:

Ringo sings "It Don't Come Easy," "The No-No Song," "You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful And You're Mine," "Photograph," "I'm The Greatest," "Don't Go Where The Road Don't Go," "Act Naturally," "Weight Of The World," "Back Off Boogaloo," "Yellow Submarine," "Boys," "I Wanna Be Your Man" and "With A Little Help From My Friends."

Joe Walsh (ex-James Gang) pays tribute to his current band, The Eagles, as he sings "Life In The Fast Lane" and "Desperado".

Peter Frampton offers "Show Me The Way" and "Baby I Love Your Way." He also does a loving rendition of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" that probably would have made John Lennon proud.

The Guess Who's main men, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, made seperate tours with Ringo. Burton is represented only by "American Woman" here, but Randy (also a veteran of Bachman-Turner Overdrive) gets two tunes: "Takin' Care Of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

Todd Rungren, pop guru, former member of The Nazz and record producer for acts as diverse as Grand Funk, Meat Loaf and Badfinger, gets two songs, "Bang The Drum All Day" and "Black Maria."

Felix Cavaliere performs two of his classics from his days as one of The Rascals: "People Got To Be Free" and "Groovin'."

Dave Edmunds, the one-time leader of Rockpile and producer of The Stray Cats, gives steaming renditions of his hits "Girls Talk" and "I Hear You Knockin'."

Somebody apparently told Simon Kirke that he could sing the lead vocals on hits by his former bands. Unfortunately, Paul Rodgers was lead singer on Free's "All Right Now" and Bad Company's "Shooting Star". Kirke tries hard but he doesn't have the great vocal chords Rodgers has and the performances fall flat.

The normally incredible voice of Eric Carmen (ex-Raspberries) sounds ragged and rough on his two tracks here: "Hungry Eyes" and "All By Myself." His piano solo on "All By Myself" is outstanding, though.

Nils Lofgren, on the other hand, shows he's just as good upfront as a lead singer as he has been as guitarist for Bruce Springsteen's band. His "Shine Silently" and "Walking Nerve" are gems that sparkle here.

Gary Brooker of Procul Harum does a fine job with "A Salty Dog" and "A Whiter Shade Of Pale."

Jack Bruce of Cream proves he's just fine without Eric Clapton on "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "I Feel Free."

Other performances:

"The Weight" by Levon Helm of The Band, "Raining In My Heart" by the late Rick Danko of The Band, "Will It Go Round In Circles" by Billy Preston, "Quarter To Three" by Clarence Clemons from Springsteen's band, "Boris The Spider" by John Entwistle of The Who and "Some Kind Of Wonderful" by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad.

Also, "I Can't Tell You Why" by Timothy B. Schmidt (a veteran of The Eagles and Poco) and "Iko-Iko" by Dr. John.

The CD:

A total of three CDs, with a total running time of more than three hours. Produced by Ringo (under his birth name of Richard Starkey) and tour promoter David Fishof.

The CD booklet is lame: 12-pages, with tiny photos of each performer (with tiny biographies). Commentary by Ringo, Fishof and a few of the performers (telling us how wonderful it is to tour with Ringo). A three-page listing of the 48 songs on the album that doesn't list the personnel on each track (when you're dealing with six different lineups, a few of which had the certain members back for additional tours, you start wondering who's playing what instrument, the year of the performance and what city they played in, all information sadly lacking here).

The CD is good --- good if you're a Beatles fan and if you like hearing a large number of hits, like an old K-Tel Records compilation, all on one album. It does suffer the normal problems faced by any live recording --- not all venues are great sound reproducers and the artist(s) may be great one day and a bit off the next due to schedules and how much rest they've gotten between gigs.

This is the U. S. version released July 24, 2001 (previously released in England last January with some different tracks).

Just released:

All-Starr Band member Eric Carmen also appears on Live On Sunset Strip (Deluxe Edition of 2 CDs and a DVD recorded during the 2005 reunion tour) By Raspberries, a 2007 Rykodisc release with liner notes by Bruce Springsteen and a photo of John Lennon in a Raspberries sweatshirt in the CD booklet, produced by Mark Linett and Eric Carmen: http://www.epinions.com/content_393207123588

You might also enjoy:

"Choose Love" by Ringo Starr, a new 2005 CD release featuring guests Chrissie Hynde, Billy Preston and Mark Hudson: http://www.epinions.com/content_188911554180

"I Wanna Be Santa Claus" by Ringo Starr: http://www.epinions.com/musc-review-604B-69D75FE-386038C6-prod2

The late Billy Preston has an outstanding CD featuring all 14 of his Hot 100 chart hits, including the original version of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" (which Billy wrote), "Ultimate Collection": http://www.epinions.com/content_247350726276

"Best Of The Animals" by Eric Burdon and The Animals: http://www.epinions.com/content_107475472004

The Dave Clark Five anthology "The History Of The Dave Clark Five": http://www.epinions.com/content_27199704708

The Beau Brummels' "Greatest Hits" CD: http://www.epinions.com/content_181981384324

A great Beatles tribute album by various artists is the 50-track, 2 CD set "It Was 40 Years Ago Today: A Tribute To The Beatles": http://www.epinions.com/content_154595659396

"The British Invasion" CD by various (original) artists: http://www.epinions.com/content_116711001732

Capitol/EMI's 20-track 24-bit digitally remastered CD "Greatest" by Raspberries (the original lineup --- Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti --- who sang the million-seller "Go All The Way" reunited in 2004-2005) was released in May of 2005 in the U. S. and Europe. It features all 7 of Raspberries Hot 100 singles, has 20 tracks and runs 78:53 minutes: http://www.epinions.com/content_186044681860

My review of the 17-track British CD collection, "All By Myself: The Best Of Eric Carmen": http://www.epinions.com/content_175776566916

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