After Ringo Starr had announced it on his 77th birthday back in July, his new studio album Give More Love appeared yesterday. Coming only two and a half years after Postcards From Paradise, it is Starr’s 19th studio release.
Would I post about this, if Starr wouldn’t have been part of The Beatles? It’s a fair question to ask. After all, I’ve been a huge fan of The Fab Four for close to 40 years, so I can’t deny a certain bias. But I also think Starr is one of the most likable contemporary music artists I can think of – not to mention he is revered by so many other musicians.
Despite the fame that inevitably comes from being associated with one of the most popular and influential bands of the 20th Century, Starr never comes across as being full of himself. To me he also personifies the idea that members of a band should be partners, not competitors. I suppose all of this makes him a guy with whom other artists want to play.
Perhaps nothing illustrates Starr’s personality better than his All-Starr Band, which has existed in different formations since 1989. According to Wikipedia, the concept was created by producer David Fishof, who also produced the band’s first eight tours from 1989 until 2003. While rock “supergroups” had existed before, the idea of solo artists coming together in a touring band that played songs from each was new.
Given how many high-profile artists have been part of the All-Starr Band over the years, it’s perhaps not a surprise that Give More Love includes an impressive array of guests: Steve Lukather, Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Jeff Lynne, Edgar Winter, Paul McCartney, Nathan East, Don Was and Timothy B. Schmit, to name some.
Ten of the tracks are original songs that have all been co-written by Starr. The album also features four bonus tracks, which are newly recorded versions of previously released songs, including Back Off Boogaloo and Photograph, two of Starr’s biggest hits.
The opener We’re On The Road Again, one of four singles that appeared prior to the album, has a nice rock groove to it. The tune was co-written by Lukather, who also plays guitar and keyboards. McCartney contributes bass, and provides background vocals, together with Winter, Walsh and Lukather.
King of the Kingdom has a laid back reggae beat. Starr’s co-writer for this tune was Van Dyke Parks, who is best known for his collaborations with Brian Wilson. Some of the guest musicians include Dave Stewart (formerly Eurythmics) on guitar, Winter on saxophone and East on bass.
Electricity is another more rock-oriented tune. Starr’s co-writer was Glen Ballard, who also contributes keyboards and backing vocals. Walsh, Starr’s brother-in-law, does some terrific guitar work, while Was is on bass. Asked about the song’s lyrics during an interview with People, Starr explained Johnny Guitar refers to the guitarist from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, the band in which Starr played before joining The Beatles. “I loved him. He was such a great asset to the band, and he had a great attitude. He played great, but mad.”
Shake It Up, which was co-written by Gary Nicholson, has a rockabilly groove. Nicholson also plays guitar on the recording. Winter provides piano, while Was contributes the bass.
The last tune I’d like to call out is the album’s title song, another co-write with Nicholson. Give More Love was also the record’s lead single released on Starr’s birthday (July 7). Among the guest musicians are bassist Matt Bissonette, his brother Gregg Bissonette on drums, as well as Schmit on backing vocals.
In mid-October, Starr and the All-Starr Band will kick off a 19-date U.S. tour. Lukather and Gregg Bissonette will be part of the line-up, as will be Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rollie, Richard Page and Warren Ham. The tour kicks off on October 13 with an eight-gig residency in Las Vegas and concludes on November 16 in Newark, N.J.
Asked during the above People interview what keeps him hungry after all this time, Starr said, “The playing is what it’s all about. That’s why I’m touring, that’s why I make records. That’s why I play with a lot of the people who ask me. I just love to play. I’m in a profession and a position where I can just play for as long as I can. As long as I can hold the sticks! That’s what it’s all about.”
Sources: Wikipedia, People, Ringo Starr website, YouTube