Ringo’s Rotogravure (SD 18193) (1976)

The graffiti-adorned door of the Beatles’ former offices on 3 Saville Row and back cover of Ringo’s fifth solo album, this held the most interest for me as a young Beatle fan.

The formula for reviewing Ringo Starr Lps is as simple as making them: First note the big gun producer (here, Arif Mardin) and how he piles on the layers of backing to compensate for the drummer’s lack of pipes or taste; next, explain that an outrageously large number of rock royalty (e.g. Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Dr. John, Jim Keltner, Sneeky Pete Kleinow, etc., etc., etc.) is on hand giving the record a certain kind of credibility; third, make sure to breathlessly allude to the virtual Beatles reunion when referring to the second-tier songs (they aren’t going to give away their A-list material, are they?) provided by each of his former band mates; finally, compare the work favorably or unfavorably, depending on your mood, to Ringothe album which instigated the correct procedure for the making of Ringo records. Hey, presto! Your Ringo review is written and the bonus is you don’t have to listen to the album, the relevant information can simply be gleaned from the liner notes.

Now, Thrifty Vinyl readers may be surprised to learn that I’m something of a Beatles fan and am inclined to forgive them all manner of sins; so for my 70p*, and for all its mediocrity, Rotogravure is a bouncy and cheery nostalgia-fest and by no means a complete wash out. Really, it’s not that much better or worse than the overly praised Ringo. Top-notch support ensures the music’s good enough and one imagines a coke and alcohol-fueled good time was had by all who contributed; nonetheless, it’s hard not to notice that, without the Starr of the show’s pedigree, the record would never have been made.

*Yes, literally. It was on sale for a pound, but 70 pence was all I had left, so they let it go at a discount. A different stall in Great Chart.

Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. what kind of people would want to go out and buy ringo starr records? we are talking about a man with a limited singing style to put it mildly (only given lennon & mccartney’s lesser novelty tunes to sing as a sop and to please the grannies), virtually no credibility as a composer (i reckon the paper-thin “octopus’s garden” was only put on the “blue” album so he would get a few royalties out of it)… and a musician who keith moon supposedly said wasn’t even the best drummer in his band! my opinion is that his value in that department was already spent by the time of “revolver” and should have been ousted by the others (and/or george martin) at that point, but the reason that he remained involved is the same one that has sustained a solo career that still carries on even now: he was the cute and funny one in the beatles and everyone loves him for it, despite his acute lack of musical credentials…

    ringo claimed that his first solo album of him tackling old standards (“sentimental journey”) was recorded “for me mam”, but i’m also sure he was well aware (or his record company were anyway) that it was an opportunistic ploy to cash in on the afterglow of the beatles’ split, and on that basis reached the upper regions of the charts accordingly. but why did people keep buying his music after what was essentially a novelty item? for a while after the split, somewhat incredibly ringo was even considered the best-selling ex-beatle for a while! presumably fab four fans were buying records such as this out of misplaced loyalty and sentimentality to the band? or the grannies still had a soft spot for him, despite his increasingly shabby appearance that was no doubt influenced by the two bottles of brandy or whatever he was necking a day by then? or maybe because he always got in a load of decent and well-known musicians to accompany him and in so doing added weight and credibility to his suspect musical skills (as asbo suggests, no doubt attracted by his conviviality and a “relaxed” approach to recording – and if the final results sucked and/or the album bombed, then well they were only doing it as a favour to ringo anyway as he’s such a nice guy)…?

    perhaps others can suggest credible reasons i haven’t thought of…

  2. For sure it was the momentum and good will created by being in the western world’s best-loved (whatever others may say) pop band that allowed Ringo to continue making his pleasant, artistically feather-light solo records for longer than logic dictated.

    Yet as my wife, 13-year old son and I played cards around the table in the study this evening and ol’ Ringo inoffensively warbled along in the background, I have to say that it was nice. Yes, it was nice.

  3. ha! so that’s the reason – ringo makes pleasant aural wallpaper music for all the family to enjoy!

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