It seems like only yesterday since Ringo Starr released Liverpool 8, his last studio album.
But believe it or not, that album was released on Jan. 15, 2008. With the release of several high-profile mono and stereo collections from his former band The Beatles last year - as well as the fantastic Soundstage Presents: Ringo Starr and the Roundheads concert DVD released by E1 Entertainment in September 2009 - there has thankfully been plenty of great music to enjoy from Ringo since his last studio effort.
With the arrival of 2010 comes another highly-anticipated album from Ringo. Y Not is set for release by Hip-O Records/UMe on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and boasts a strong roster of guests players including Paul McCartney and Joe Walsh. Y Not also marks the first time that Ringo has produced his own album.
Over the weekend, I was listening to the radio show Breakfast With the Beatles and heard the album's opening track, "Fill In The Blanks," an infectious rocker featuring only Ringo and Walsh. With a single listen, the track grabbed me and I can't wait to hear the rest of the album.
Here are some highlights from the comprehensive press release sent out about Ringo's upcoming Y Not disc in late 2009:
Throughout recorded history, great artists across the universe have dared to ask "Why?" On January 12, 2010, one brave man named Ringo finally boldly declares the ultimate answer -- Y Not.
For the first time in one of popular music's most enduring and illustrious careers, Ringo Starr has decided to take charge and produce himself. The result is perhaps the most personal and impressive album of this rock legend's entire solo career. How on earth did Starr finally locate the absolutely perfect producer to work with him? "Well, I looked in the mirror," Ringo says with a smile. "And I was looking real groovy that day."
Starr's decision to take a stronger role in the recording of his latest and greatest solo album was a significant and fortuitous one. "I didn't do it at the start," Starr says. "I was the least involved in the production of the Beatles records. And then with my solo records, I worked with some other great producers like Richard Perry, Arif Mardin and Don Was. So it just seemed like that's the way that it goes. Then suddenly, it's another point in your life, and you say, 'I'm going to do this now.' So I'll be producing anything I make from now on. That's the good news. It's a confidence thing, I suppose. And Y Not is really another way of me saying 'Yes, I can.' "
The joyous result of Starr lookin in the mirror is Y Not, a groovy and deeply-felt song cycle that finds Ringo leading a smaller core group of old and new friends including long-time pal and recent brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart and longtime Roundheads member Steve Dudas on guitar, Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on keyboards, Don Was and Mike Bradford on bass. The album also features Starr's engineer and co-producer Bruce Sugar on keyboards, as well as some special guests like Joss Stone, Ben Harper and Richard Marx on vocals, Ann Marie Calhoun on violin and Tina Sugandh -- aka Tina The Tabla Girl -- on tabla and chanting.
Yet no collaborator featured on Y Not is likely to receive as much attention as Starr's former bandmate and longstanding mate Paul McCartney, who adds a characteristically brilliant bass part to the inspiring "Peace Dream" -- Starr's latest heartfelt plea for peace and love -- and even more notably provides his unmistakably fabulous vocals to "Walk With You," an exquisitie new composition by Starr and Van Dyke Parks.
"Walk With You" is a moving , even spiritual meditation about the lasting power of friendship, and McCartney's inspired participation on the track was a testament to McCartney's generosity of spirit and musical talent. "Paul was doing the Grammys, so he came over to the house and was playing bass on 'Peace Dream.' So I played him this other track and Paul said, 'Give me the headphones. Give me a par of cans.' And he went to the mic and he just invested that part where he follows on my vocal. That was all Paul McCartney, and there could be nothing better. He makes it bigger and he makes it fuller. It makes the song like a coversation between us and that was Paul's idea to do his part one beat behind me. That's why he's a gen-i-us and an incredible bass player."