Choose Love (2005)


 
1. Fading In, Fading Out 2. Give Me Back the Beat 3. Oh My Lord 4. Hard To Be True 5. Some People 6. Wrong All the Time 7. Don't Hang Up 8. Choose Love 9. Me and You 10.Satisfied 11.The Turnaround 12.Free Drinks

 

In the first decade of the 21st century, even if you were Ringo Starr, there was no guarantee that you would get a respectable record deal. Bottom line, unless your product sold, and sold well, it was a struggle to get anything released by a well known label. Fortunately for Ringo, he had some money being an ex-Beatle, so he could at least sign with a small record company, probably knowing that promotion wise, no matter how good the record would be, it probably really wouldn't sell that much anyway.

Talk about an injustice. This is by far Ringo's best solo album ever. Since his "comeback" around 1992, his music had been quietly evolving, even going a bit backwards sometimes in quality, but along with his consistent team of co-writers, he was slowly becoming his own artist, and apart from one song here, doesn't use any outside writers or different sets of performers. So maybe you could say he finally got the nerve to take the training wheels off the bicycle? Maybe, this could have been a disaster, but it's not. He and his writing team had now conquered the ability to put out a great piece of work without leaning on any big shoulders.

The album is rarely "cute" - a big drawback to most of Ringo's albums. He always sort of mocked his personality on many of his songs - making sly references to himself or others in the studio, maybe because he felt if he did it first no one could hurt him by taking the first shot themselves? The opening cut (and by far the strongest), Fading In, Fading Out almost seems as though he's awfully content with no longer being a superstar, yet it's easy to miss the message since the melody and song structure is so strong, so Beatle-esque, and so easy to sing along to. Speaking of Beatle-esque, witness the sensational Oh My Lord, that I would swear is a homage to his departed buddy George Harrison. The song opens and closes with a riff that sounds a lot like George's "Blue Jay Way" from his Beatle days, and the body is remarkably similar to George's "My Sweet Lord". It's a beautiful Sunday Morning piece. Maybe George finally succeeded in getting Ringo to sing about God?

Not everything here is necessarily happy-go-lucky Ringo either. No, it's not a depressing nor serious record, but musically he's flexing his muscle a bit and taking some chances that he's never done before. So much so that tunes like Hard To Be True and Don't Hang Up (with Chrissy Hynde, the only guest star this time around), the music sounds so diverse that it takes several listens before the songs grow on you. He almost sounds Country-Western on the ballad Wrong All the Time, and with a slightly different arrangement, it could have fit that genre beautifully with its simple melody and juvenile pleadings. Me and You is a beautiful piece that you wish would have lasted a whole lot longer than two minutes and 15 seconds, and pretty much everything else has that great Beatle stamp running through the songs. The whole album is great from start to finish.

Yeah, some will always say that Ringo andGoodnight Vienna from about thirty years ago will always be his best, but I think this record blows them both away in a very very big way.

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