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Ringo Starr

Liverpool 8

Review by Michael Bader

Ringo Starr released his fifteenth solo album on Capitol Records in February 2008 which was aptly named after his home town and zip code.  This album is very solid and flows nicely from cover to cover. For a 68 year old rock star, Starr’s voice sounds extremely strong. The album celebrates his life, where he’s been, who he has loved, who he has laughed with and what he wants the world to be like.

The twelve song album, co-written by Starr, reflects on his lifelong belief that love and peace make the world go round. Unlike most drummer’s solo albums, Starr’s songs are founded on varying melodies and improve with age. Granted, Starr’s lyrics have never been complicated but as he has emotionally matured, we find much more depth in his songwriting than we did with the “No No Song” some 30 years ago.

The album was co-produced by former Eurythmics guitarist and producer, Dave Stewart. Stewart has done a remarkable job of making Starr’s trademark voice sound better than on prior solo albums. By the time the album is done, you might have your fill about the message of love or Starr’s quirky style. Rolling Stone’s insightful statement about Liverpool 8 deserves repeating here. “The album shows the reflective side of the Beatle who paradoxically grew up to be one of rock and roll’s sanest adults, not to mention one of the most beloved.” 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Liverpool 8
The title track is one of the three songs of which I am very fond. The ballad begins with a dreamy mood and jumps into a straight ahead rock and roll song. Starr reflects on his home town and the good times when the Beatles were an up and coming group. Liverpool can now join the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago (and certainly others), all dedicated with an official town song.
Think About You
This feel good song is about what Starr does when he feels down and is missing that special someone in his life. The lyrics are probably the simplest of any song on Liverpool 8. The tone of this cut is flavored with a funky or boogie style sound. It reminds me of Steely Dan’s “Daddy Don’t Live in that NY City No More.”
For Love
“For Love” is another song that sparks my enthusiasm. It’s about the thrills of falling and being in love, which may sound better than it actually is for most people. But the recurring theme in Starr’s music is hope.

I identify with the lyrics. . . “You have to have a heart to have it broken” and . . . “There are good and bad days / You’ll still love me always, for love, for love, for love.” The song is definitely unique compared to the plethora of straight ahead Ringo Starr songs. The mix, the sweet guitar solo and the production value of this piece makes this the “must download” (legally of course – ed.) song from this album.

Now That She's Gone Away
This easy listening number is a fairly simple song with a driving beat (reminiscent of some Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane songs). Starr shares his wisdom about recovering from the loss of a loved one and the trials and tribulations one suffers without that person being a regular part of daily life. Starr’s vocals are crisp and clear. This one is worth the listen.
Gone Are The Days
This short piece opens with the echoing of Starr singing, giving it a 60’s psychedelic flavor. The lyrics quote some of “It Don’t Come Easy.” There are some great guitar riffs from Jesse Davey and some sweet backing vocals from Mark Hudson.

Give It A Try
Here is another three minute song that pays tribute to a 1960’s British band signed by Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, the Merseybeats. They are credited with defining the “Liverpool” sound. The track is very catchy and has a calypso style to it.

Tuff Love
Mr. Starkey’s encouraging recipe is for everyone to take a long look in the mirror and decide to adopt peace and love as their mantra. The song ends with the strumming of a sitar sounding instrument in a late era Beatlesque fashion.
Harry's Song
This is a fitting tribute to the Beatle’s late friend, good old Harry Nilsson. Not many fans will remember Nilsson so it’s best to compare this laid back song to something you might hear from Leon Redbone.
Pasodobles
Pasodobles,” which literally means “double-step” is a typical Spanish march-like musical style as well as being a couples dance style. It is the type of music typically played in bullfights during the toreadors' entrance to the ring or during the passes by the bull. This romantic love song is filled with beautiful classical Spanish guitar riffs and a cool solo by Steve Dudas. Starr meets Acapulco in this romantic love song.
If It's Love That You Want
Here we have a light hearted bouncy number about love’s importance as a survival tool of life. Once again journeyman guitarist, Steve Dudas, plays a surf-like guitar solo in the middle of this piece. Strangely, Dudas’ bio talks about surf music and Dick Dale being his favorite style of music growing up. This is the final piece on the album that I found to be a great overall production.
Love Is
Starr continues his love-fest with a smooth, sensitive song that carries several messages: don’t take love for granted, love conquers all and make love not war.
R U Ready
Starr completes Liverpool 8 with a revelation about death and religion. The entire song is recorded in a radio static style until the mid-point when there is a guitar-keyboard duet. Then it’s back to radio static for the remainder. His message is don’t be afraid of letting go when the time comes because heaven has safety nets for those who fall. He discounts religious beliefs with a great lyric that struck home for me. . . “I was sitting by the Ganji, looking for another way. But all roads lead to Heaven no matter what they say.”
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