VH1 Story Tellers (1998)

1. With a Little Help From My Friends 2. It Don't Come Easy 3. I Was Walkin' 4. Don't Pass Me By 5. Back Off Boogaloo 6. King of Broken Hearts 7. Octopus's Garden 8. Photograph 9. La De Da 10.What in the...World 11.Love Me Do 12.With a Little Help From My Friends (Reprise) 13.I've Got Blisters... 14.The End


I don't know that much about the "Storytellers" series that VH1 made popular several years ago. The format seemed to have well known artists perform in a small, intimate setting while sharing stories about how the particular songs that they featured came about. Such a venue is perfect for someone such as Ringo Starr. Although he never achieved much success on his own, his comings and goings were widely known simply because he was a member of The Beatles. Not to mention that his personality seems to match the setting perfectly. He's always been a lovable, simple guy that seemed perfectly fine with telling the same tales from his Beatle days over and over and over again.

For whatever reason, the "story telling" aspect isn't as present as you might think it should be, or even wish for, on this album. But let's face it, there really aren't that many well known Ringo songs to tell stories about when reflecting on his career. From his Beatle days, he does the only two songs that he ever wrote as a Beatle (Octopus's Garden and Don't Pass Me By), in addition to his "signature" song With a Little Help From My Friends and Love Me Do (that he covered on his current studio album Vertical Man. Then, there are a few of his solo songs from the early seventies that many people don't recall that well, even though they were quite popular oh so long ago.

That leaves a lot of space to fill, which he predictably fills with songs from his latest release, Vertical Man. That album itself was pretty strong, even though many in the audience probably weren't familiar with most (or all) of the songs. He pulls out some very prime cuts from that album, so nothing here suffers quality wise. There's just no "story telling" on such tracks. Even with a lot of filler, there's really only eleven "real" songs here (the last three "songs" here are just basically snippets of conversation).

Fortunately the performance is stellar. For a guy who's made his living within various incarnations of his "All Starr" band, it's a bit of a nice treat to hear a live album with all Ringo and not have to share him with an array of guests. So the affair is low key and entertaining. He really is a good story teller, even if you've heard a lot of these stories before. I don't really know how many of these VH1 shows made the transition to an official audio release, but this one serves its purpose quite nicely.

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