The Bottom Line
You won't find many almost-70-year-old artists who are still fresh, inventive, and intent on doing things their own way. Ringo Starr is one of the few. Y Not may not be groundbreaking, but it's interesting and entertaining, which is no small feat regardless of the artist's age.
- Ringo is still at the top of his game
- Good choice and use of guest artists and co-writers
- Good mix of musical styles and lyrical themes
- Disappointing duet with Paul McCartney
- Release date: January 12, 2010, Hip-O Records
- Produced by Ringo Starr
- Available on CD, MP3 and Vinyl LP
Guide Review - Ringo Asks 'Y Not'
Ringo Starr neither looks nor acts like someone who will soon (7/7/10) turn 70. He has just released (1/12/10, Hip-O Records) his 16th studio album, and is preparing for a 2010 All Starr Band summer tour. The guy has plenty of laurels to rest on if he wanted to, what with that boy band gig with The Beatles and a 40 year solo career. But Ringo keeps on working, and that alone is worth at least one star in a five star system for rating albums.
Y Not is the first of his albums on which Starr has sole producer credit. His last four studio albums were co-produced with Mark Hudson (ex-Hudson Brothers) with an assist from Dave Stewart (ex-Eurythmics) on 2008's Liverpool 8 after Starr had a falling-out with Hudson. Starr also has co-writer credit on all the songs on Y Not.
If only for sentimental reasons, it was interesting to hear Starr and Paul McCartney together again on "Walk With You" -- the first single from the album. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was a little disappointed. Some of the high notes were just enough out of both artists' range to be noticeable, and the music didn't quite seem to fit with the lyrics.
Another collaborator on the project was Joe Walsh (Eagles) who co-wrote and plays guitar on the album's opening track, "Fill In The Blanks." In fact, the first thing you hear is Walsh riffing. You can hardly go wrong there. The track is one of my two co-favorites. The other is co-written with Joss Stone, who does lead vocals with Ringo backing on the album's closing track, "Who's Your Daddy." It's a little bit rock, a little bit soul, and a heckuva lot of fun to listen to.
Most of the tracks, in typical Starr fashion, are upbeat and optimistic, both musically and lyrically. A notable exception here is "The Other Side Of Liverpool," which describes the artist's rather bleak, mostly fatherless childhood.
For the most part, Starr made good use of his vocal and musical collaborators (McCartney plays bass on "Peace Dream") -- especially Walsh and Stone -- not overusing them, and letting them play to their own strengths. He also used the services of some of the top songwriters in the business: Gary Wright, Gary Nicholson, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Stewart, Richard Marx, Gary Burr, and Glen Ballard.
Overall, the album compares favorably to any of the previous 15, maybe even topping them in many respects. You may not hear anything startling, but there's a lot to be said for an artist who can still be on top of his game when he's 69. Should you add this one to your collection? Sure, y not?