Stop and Smell the Roses (1981)


 
1. Private Property 2. Wrack My Brain 3. Drumming is My Madness 4. Attention 5. Stop and Take the Time to Smell the Roses 6. Dead Giveaway 7. You Belong To Me 8. Sure to Fall (In Love With You) 9. You've Got a Nice Way 10. Back Off Boogaloo

 

With his solo career all but forgotten, it was time to once again try the formula that worked so well in the early seventies, feature songs by some well known artist friends in addition to his former Beatlemates. With the tragic death of John Lennon during the recording sessions, he's obviously sadly missing from the package. Starr does receive a few good tunes from McCartney and Harrison. Actually the whole album is mostly good. Sadly, when it's bad, it's really bad, and had just a touch more care gone into the production, this record may have received at least a little bit of attention, which it really did deserve.

Private Property is the opening cut, and it's very obviously a McCartney tune. It's carefree enough to be pleasant, but doesn't really shine as some of his better compositions. Further down the track list, he collaborates with Paul on the track Attention that's much more endearing and stands out better. The second song on here is also an ex-Beatle song. George Harrison contributes Wrack My Brain which, like the first song on the album, manages to have the musician's style stamped all over the song. There's no doubt who wrote the song, and since Harrison had been having mediocre success as a solo artist, you almost have to wonder why he didn't keep the song for himself.

The second half of the album is incredibly strong, with the styles of the songs varying quite significantly, yet still manage to blend well to be a consistent package. My favorite, and probably the most diverse, is the heavy handed Dead Giveaway which has an almost dark, bass-heavy feel that separates itself quite well from most of everything in Ringo's catalog. You Belong to Me is a very sweet, nostalgic piece and Sure to Fall (In Love with You) has a bit of a nice country feel. He does a remake of his classic Back off Boogaloo that incorporates a lot of former Beatle tunes in the mix as well as his own. It takes a bit to warm up to, but after a few spins it's a welcome addition.

As mentioned, there's some really bad stuff here as well. The sad part, really, is that it almost sounds intentionally bad. First is the tongue in cheek Drumming is my Madness, a tune written by friend Harry Nilsson. It's quite silly and really doesn't belong on an album that has so much potential. You have to wonder just how many drinks the pair had when recording this embarrassment. The really awful song here though, is the title track, which is more of a "cheer" or a "plea" by someone who sounds awfully intoxicated. Ringo sings about "roses in noses" and it's obvious that other things were going in his nose as well. Really, the less said about this song the better. I have to honestly say that most people that I know who have heard the record don't hate this song quite as bad as I do.

Speaking of people who have heard this album, this album was out of a print for several years before being reissued on compact disc. I believe it then went out of print again but is now (I think) available. One of the underrated highlights in his catalog.

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