Believe it or not, it’s not necessarily easy being a Beatle. That’s especially true when you’re Ringo Starr and you’ve always been overshadowed by your three enormously talented bandmates. After all, they were the ones who wrote and sang the songs, which left you with a mere handful of tunes for you to hang your now-thinning mop top on. Not that those songs didn’t leave a lasting impression—any artist would be pleased to have such numbers as “With a Little Help From My Friends”, “Yellow Submarine” or “Photograph” to tout time and time again. But let’s face it: A limited repertoire given to you by others, no matter how brilliant, only goes so far, and eventually you’re left to fend for yourself and add to your own stockpile.
Nevertheless, say what you will about Ringo. He’s nothing if not persistent. Even as he rapidly approaches his 75th birthday(!), he still finds the time to release a new album every couple of years, tour regularly with his All-Starr Band and continue to entice the faithful, and that’s despite a wearisome predictability that reinforces the old show biz axiom that states it’s best to keep the fans wanting more. As dictated by his unceasingly cheery Starr-like stereotype, he mines his peace sign-flashing, carefree cheerleader persona to the hilt.
Indeed, Postcards From Paradise suggests that there’s still a carefree vibe wafting through the Starkey household, with Ringo’s jet set lifestyle all but numbing him to any concerns occupying us poor peons living in the outside world. The album title itself speaks to his carefree indulgence, but it’s specific tracks like “Island in the Sun” and “You Bring the Party Down”—the latter suggesting that in Ringo’s world, a party-pooper makes for the biggest bummer possible – that further the happy-go-lucky notion.
Like always, Ringo sings praises to the past with obvious nods to nostalgia. His upbeat ode to his pre-Beatles band, “Rory and the Hurricanes”, follows in the tradition of earlier songs like “I’m the Greatest”, “Photograph” and, more recently, “The Other Side of Liverpool” from his 2010 offering, Y Not. Of course, Ringo wouldn’t be Ringo without a fair share of perfunctory pop (“Bridges”, “Bamboula”), cloying rhymes (the title track, with its innumerable references to various Beatles song titles), an upbeat love song or three (“Not Looking Back”, “Confirmation”, “Touch and Go”), plenty of kitsch and lots of help from his famous friends—Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather, Dave Stewart and Benmont Tench, among them.
So no Sgt. Pepper here, but then again, no one would ever expect that from happy-go-lucky Ringo. His mantra veers more towards imagery than artistry, and offering entertainment as opposed to enlightenment. Which is just fine. In the minds of many, he is still a Beatle after all, and considering the fact that the Fab Four are down to the surviving two, the fans cherish him as one still entitled to carry the Beatles banner. Never mind that his comedic antics and self-absorbed showmanship diminishes the magic and mystique. Ringo is, well, Ringo, and we wouldn’t expect anything less.
Besides, given all that’s etched on Postcards From Paradise, a splendid time is still guaranteed for all.
// Notes from the Road
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