[12 July 2012]
Ringo Starr recently celebrated his 72nd birthday, and most of the media focused on his time as a member of The Beatles and a few of his biggest solo hits. But being that he has released 17 albums throughout his solo career, let’s look at the songs that are never played on the radio and are hardly mentioned by the press, in other words, his most underrated songs.
The opening track to what is arguably his most popular album, 1973’s Ringo, “I’m the Greatest” often gets forgotten in lieu of the album’s hit singles, like “Oh My My”, “You’re Sixteen”, and “Photograph”. Written by John Lennon, the song would come off as arrogant fluff in anybody else’s voice.
The lyrics of “Early 1970” tell more about the individual Beatles’ post-break-up life than most biographies of the group, with the song certainly sounding better than all of those books! The B-side to “It Don’t Come Easy”, this would later be included as a bonus track on the Ringo C.D.
Beaucoups of Blues (1970) showed us more of the country side to Ringo, with “Woman of the Night” arguably being the album’s most heartfelt track. His rendering of the lyrics “It’s worth the rain to have a little sunshine. And you laugh much louder when you learn to cry” is especially telling.
A more recent entry into Ringo’s repertoire, “Hard to Be True” is another great bittersweet ballad that comes off surprisingly well from an artist who is usually known for happier tunes.
The album it was featured on hasn’t even been released on CD yet (1977’s Ringo the 4th), but “Can She Do It Like She Dances” is rollicking, uptempo fun that could have been a popular single.
“King of Broken Hearts” may have been released as a promotional single, but it’s possibly one the best songs in his catalogue. It is lying in wait for some great vocalist (or talent show contestant) to come and introduce it to the mainstream public, turning it into the next “Without You” or “At This Moment”.
Sure, this is technically a Beatles song, but Ringo sings lead on this overlooked gem. Originally intended for the Help! soundtrack, “If You’ve Got Trouble” sat unreleased until it appeared on the Anthology 2 album in 1996. Beatles experts often dismiss it, with George Harrison once remarking, “It’s got stupid words… No wonder it didn’t make it onto anything”. However, it’s unusual to hear Ringo sing such a confident kiss-off in the angsty, uptempo vein of “You Won’t See Me” or “And Your Bird Can Sing”. To the untrained ear, it sounds like a cover of vintage hit.