Saturday, July 7, 2007

He's The Greatest....

...and you better believe it, baby!

Happy 67th b-day to our good friend Richard Starkey, better known to most Earthlings as Ringo Starr, MBE, and known to other Earthlings as Zac Starkey's dad.  As Charlie Daniels might say, Ringo "ain't good-looking, but he sure can play..."

Oddly enough, even though he's hardly the greatest singer in the world, it was Ringo Starr who had the most consistent solo career success early on after the breakup of The Beatles.  Apart from a handful of hit singles, Paul McCartney's solo career didn't really kick into high gear until late 1973's Band On The Run album.  John Lennon was at times brilliant ("Instant Karma", "Imagine") and at times ignorant ("Woman Is The Nigger Of The World"), and George Harrison was pretty hit-and-miss—although "What Is Life?" is a classic, and acoustic guitars have never sounded better to me than they do on the intro to "My Sweet Lord".  Meantime, it was Ringo (with a little help from his friends) churning out the hits, beginning with 1971's "It Don't Come Easy" and culminating with his classic 1973 album Ringo, which was the closest we ever came to a true Beatles reunion, as John, George and Paul all wrote songs for the album and played on it (just not all at the same time).  Sadly, Ringo wasn't able to sustain a consistent solo career over time, but later had fun staging his All-Starr Band tours during the '80s and '90s with folks like Joe Walsh, Dave Edmunds, John Entwistle and Sheila E (?!?).

As much as I enjoy Ringo's drumming prowess, I have to say that his little boy, Zac Starkey of The Who, blows his old man away.  It took The Who about 20 years to find a proper replacement for the late Keith Moon in young master Zac, who is both a basher and a timekeeper.  Of course, it didn't hurt that Zac learned from Moon himself, as well as his dad, and even Peter Criss of Kiss, whom Zac was/is a huge fan of.  And just like other Beatle offspring like Julian Lennon and Dhani Harrison, Zac bears a striking resemblance to dear ol' dad.  I just wish he'd stop wasting his time (and talent) playing with those impudent Oasis pussies!

My All-Time Ringo Top 10:
10) "Only You (And You Alone)" (1974)  Nice remake of the Platters' timeless classic.
9) "I'm The Greatest" (1973)  Song I referenced in the above title line.  J. Lennon wrote this one about himself initially, but thought it would come off sounding a tad arrogant coming from him if he sang it, so he handed it off to the ever-humble Ringo, and it worked out quite well.
8) "No No Song" (1974)  A Hoyt Axton classic that may well be the funniest smoking/drinking/snorting song of all-time.
7) "Back Off Boogaloo" (1972)  G. Harrison produced this one and plays guitar on it and a then-unknown Gary "Dream Weaver" Wright plays keyboards here too.
6) "Snookeroo" (1974)  Written for Mr. Starkey by E. John and B. Taupin. E. John can be heard doing the count-in at the start, and get this—he plays piano on it, too.  Imagine that!
5) "(It's All Down To) Goodnight Vienna" (1974)  Lennon wrote this one for Ringo too, and plays some dandy pianny on it.  I don't have a clue what the lyrics mean, but what the fuck...
4) "You're Sixteen" (1973)  One of my favorite cover songs of all-time, featuring P. McCartney and the late Harry Nilsson on those dreaded "mouth saxes", better known as "kazoos" to us Americans.
3) "Oh My My" (1973)  Ringo does disco before disco was even cool!  I love those bass farts on this one during the chrouses, and I still swear that lyric went "This parakeet should keep you alive..."
2) "Photograph" (1973)  Arguably the high point of Ringo's solo career.  Outstanding "Wall of Sound" production by Richard Perry too.
1) "It Don't Come Easy" (1971)  Another favorite of mine off the AM dial in the summer of '71.  We'll forgive Ringo for flubbing the words to it (twice) during the Concert for Bangladesh too...

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