Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ringo Starr 2: Beaucoups Of Blues

A cursory listen to Ringo’s solo spots on Beatle albums might suggest a slight bias toward country music. With nothing else to do in the middle of 1970, he indulged his love of the genre by hooking up with pedal steel legend Pete Drake (most famous to rock fans for his work on Nashville Skyline and All Things Must Pass) to record Beaucoups Of Blues with the cream of Nashville’s studio cats in support. Some of these luminaries included Charlie Daniels, Ben Keith, Jerry Reed, and Charlie McCoy, plus the Jordanaires, who harmonized throughout. The only drummer listed is D.J. Fontana, unless Ringo’s in there somewhere; most reports say he didn’t touch a pair of sticks during the sessions.

It’s not a half-bad album for its genre, his lonesome voice supported by not too much syrup, and constantly betraying his Scouse roots. Unlike last time, these weren’t all golden hits; every song was brand new, and conveniently administered through Drake’s own publishing company. Once again the opening track is the title track, and probably the best choice for a single. “Love Don’t Last Long” isn’t as maudlin as Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”, which it resembles, but it delivers the same heartache as “Without Her”, “I’d Be Talking All The Time”, and “Waiting”. He nicely tackles the key changes on “I Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way”, a sweet duet with one Jeanie Kendall, then all of 16 years. Titles like “Fastest Growing Heartache In The West”, “Loser’s Lounge”, “Wine, Women And Loud Happy Songs”, and “$15 Draw” (which refers to the “boot” rather than the trunk of a car) are novelties, not designed for any museum. “Woman Of The Night” might have been a hit if the message weren’t so mixed, but the real surprise is “Silent Homecoming”, which could almost be a Vietnam War protest.

Given the low-key approach and how it was recorded, Beaucoups Of Blues has aged pretty well. But as we’ve said before, would anyone care were it not for that name on the spine? (The CD gets bonus points for including “Coochy Coochy”, Ringo’s one-chord exercise that was a contemporary B-side, but it’s also a head-scratcher for adding the pointless “Nashville Jam”, except that he might actually be playing drums on it.)

Ringo Starr Beaucoups Of Blues (1970)—3
1995 CD reissue: same as 1970, plus 2 extra tracks

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