First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2005, Volume 12, #6
Written by John Metzger
Throughout his career, Ringo Starr consistently has played the role of the jovial, good-natured friend to everyone, and his amiable personality masterfully has allowed him to parlay songs that could have been mere novelty tunes ó Yellow Submarine and Octopusí Garden, among them ó into magical pop masterpieces. Even after the Fab Four went their separate ways, Starr continued to mine this happy-go-lucky terrain by inviting an array of special guests to join him on his fun-filled adventures. As a result, save for a handful of misguided, late í70s and early í80s outings during which he strayed from his strengths, heís assembled a solid, if not exactly groundbreaking, body of work.
On his latest effort Choose Love, Starr re-unites for the third time with his backing band The Roundheads, and together the ensemble congenially waltzes through the past, grafting Beatle-esque psychedelia onto the breezy folk-pop of the Traveling Wilburys. In a sense, this is meant to be Starrís re-emergence, and by employing a smaller support network ó only organist Billy Preston, guitarist Robert Randolph, the Rose Stone Gospel Choir, and The Pretendersí Chrissie Hynde join the festivities ó he succeeds in keeping the spotlight solely upon himself. This, unfortunately, is a double-edged sword. There are times when Starr embraces The Beatlesí various forays almost to a fault. For example, he utilizes a slight variation on the central groove of Taxman to underpin the title track, shapes Oh My Lordís ode to George Harrison in the image of his fallen brotherís My Sweet Lord, and laces Donít Hang Up with traces of Revolverís hallucinogenic effects. In the process, he trades his former bandís youthful vigor for a professionally polished, glossy sheen. Even so, the only true misstep on the album is Wrong All the Time, a self-deprecating ballad for which Starrís limited vocal range isnít well-suited. Although Choose Love features no true surprises, itís an amicable diversion that feels as comfortable as an old pair of shoes.
Choose Love is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box