Ringo Starr, Keeping the Beat for 70 Years

We had a show on Paul McCartney’s birthday, but no dice for Ringo; as always, the man gets no respect. But wait! Today is Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday, and I am determined to honor him! He is a wonderful drummer; his technique during his time with the Beatles went from the simple, pleasurable backbeat of Please Please Me to the complex, sophisticated drumming of Abbey Road. Like fellow Beatles John, Paul, and George, the growth he experienced over six or seven years was remarkable. And for 40 years now, ever since the band broke up, he has quietly released a steady stream of solo albums. Some are pleasant, a couple–Ringo, Liverpool 8–have been excellent, and though most are mediocre, the fact that he’s had a recording career for close to half-a-century is a terrific accomplishment. (Plus he’s never released anything as ear-bleedingly awful as John’s Life with the Lions or Paul’s Liverpool Oratorio, so props for that, Rings. Can I call you Rings?)

So in celebration, I present to you Ringo’s Top 5 Beatles Songs!

I could probably take a broader view and determine Ringo’s best Beatles songs by taking into account his actual drumming (in which case, I’m thinking “Rain,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” or “Tomorrow Never Knows” would likely be contenders for the top spot), but I’m only going to count the songs he sang. There were only 12, but all are worthy additions to the Beatles catalogue.

5. “What Goes On,” Rubber Soul (1965)

I met you in the morning, waiting for the tides of time. But now the tide is turning, I can see that I was blind.

Rubber Soul is an album fraught with girl troubles, and even the usually happy-go-lucky Ringo finds himself at odds with a lying, cheating girl. As with many Ringo songs, “What Goes On” has a country-and-western flair, though I doubt many C&W songs sport anything as lovely as John and Paul’s background harmony. Paul’s stabbing bass provides a nice counterpoint to George’s clean guitar lines, nicely capturing the song’s mood.

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Hey, Mr. AJ: Tame Impala, True Blood, Dum Dum Girls, Wild Nothing, Twilight, Robyn

Hey, Mr. AJ is a new column in which I plan on writing some things about the new music I hear. They’ll be brief reviews, divided into sections: MAXIMUM GOBBLING for the masterpieces; GOBBLE IT for the merely great; WORTH GOBBLING for other good releases; GOBBLE? for those albums which aren’t really good or bad, just sort of okay; DO NOT GOBBLE for the shitty; and RUN, DON’T GOBBLE! for the awful. Got it? Now, don’t ask me again.

INNERSPEAKER
by Tame Impala

I’m a Beatlemaniac, so I see the Beatles everywhere. Bear with me. On their debut album Innerspeaker, Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala manage to do what the Olivia Tremor Control did on 1996′s masterful Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle; without compromising their creativity or their own unique vision, they capture the spirit of the post-Sgt. Pepper, pre-Abbey Road Beatles. Specifically, both albums remind me of the more freewheeling psychedelic cuts on Yellow Submarine, like George Harrison’s “It’s All Too Much.” Indeed, lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice reminds me of Harrison’s in that soaring, nasally way, which also makes it at times resemble John Lennon’s. But as I said, this is no rip-off, and Tame Impala sound like their own band, embracing the hazier realms of psychedelia that the Fab Four rarely did. It’s misty, delightful music that lulls you into another world with its spiraling distorted guitars, insistent drums, and far out yet pleasingly retro production techniques. Innerspeaker hasn’t made its way to the States yet, but whenever you get the chance, take a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

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