Vertical Man (1998)


 
1. One 2. What in the...World 3. Mind Field 4. King of Broken Hearts 5. Love Me Do 6. Vertical Man 7. Drift Away 8. I Was Walkin' 9. La De Da 10.Without Understanding 11.I'll Be Fine Anywhere 12.Puppet 13.I'm Yours

 

It seemed a bit strange that it would take Ringo a whole six years to follow up the outstanding Time Takes Time album, but Ringo was staying busy with his different versions of his All Starr band, and even though Time Takes Time was a critical success, people weren't necessarily queuing up at record stores to buy the latest Ringo album, so the absence, sadly, wasn't really noticed.

Fortunately on this record, the similarities are largely present, and when they're present, they're welcome and successful. He's breaking out of the mold a bit, and the results are a bit mixed, but when a Ringo album has a whopping 13 songs (a record at the time), you know you're going to get some things that sound a bit different. Ironically, "vertical", isn't really a term used to best describe the direction here. Rather than being straight, upward, and/or focused, this record sounds quite jumbled and haphazard, even within the songs themselves. The cover of Dobie Gray's Drift Away is a prime example. It's a song most have heard of, but it doesn't quite sound appropriate on a Ringo album. It doesn't help when he has Tom Petty, Alanis Morissette and Steven Tyler each sing a few lines. It comes across as a bit sloppy.

On the other hand, he tries a similar trick (without other people singing lead, thank goodness) on the very first "real" Beatle song Love Me Do, and he makes this trick work. Maybe it's because I've never heard anyone cover that particular Beatle song? Anyway, this makes me wonder if it could have been successful had it been originally done as the one Ringo song on a Beatle album. It seems to fit his style perfectly, and after the shock value wears off, it's one of the best things here.

Other successes are when he doesn't try to deviate from his classic formula too much. Songs such as La De Da, I Was Walkin', and my favorite (which, before I saw the credits, I could have swore it was written by George Harrison), What in the...World are all of the pleasant, happy variety. The closing song for his wife I'm Yours is extremely touchy, and reminds me a bit of his closer "Goodnight" from "The Beatles (White Album)" thirty years earlier.

There are times when his guest stars,the above mentioned strange choices along with the likes of Joe Walsh and Ozzy Osbourne push the envelope a bit too far, but when you have this much music on one disc and the majority is high quality, it's only a minor let down. You really wish the majority of listeners would take the guy as serious as they were taking his other Beatle mates, especially when he co-wrote eleven of the thirteen songs here.

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