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The Toppermost of the Poppermost
on 4 September 2004
This album, from 1973, yielded three big hits: "You're Sixteen" (which featured Paul McCartney on kazoo), "Photograph" (which Ringo co-wrote with George Harrison) and "Oh My My."
While one of its selling points today is that it's the only album by a former Beatle featuring each of the other former Beatles, this fact was not given much attention in 1973. Industry people knew it, and people who read record reviews would have noticed passing references to this fact. But, this was not what made it a hit. What kept this album selling well was its pop sensibility. Nostalgia for the 1950s was at a peak, and a cover of "You're Sixteen" was a good idea. The original was just famous enough to capture fans yearning for happier times and just obscure enough to seem novel. "You're Sixteen" was a monster hit. Like the rest of the album, it was played well and had a driven quality.
The album holds up today not only because of the quality of the musicianship but because Richard Perry's production was crisp and warm; no mean trick.
The album, as originally released, ended with a sweet farewell called "For You and Me (Babe.)" Three bonus tracks have been added at the end, but only the third ("Down and Out") was recorded at the same time RINGO was recorded. The other two are "It Don't Come Easy" and "Early 1970." "It Don't Come Easy" is serious rock, but it is quite different from the RINGO album. "Early 1970" is country-rock with very specific lyrics about Ringo's life after the break-up of the Beatles. George Harrison plays guitar on both "Early 1970" and "It Don't Come Easy." He is on several tracks on the RINGO album itself, but somehow, he and Ringo and all the other musicians on this CD seem to be in a mood to entertain by 1973. The tracks from earlier have a plaintive tone. Somewhere between 1971 and 1973 the emotions of the sixties had vanished, and the RINGO album is proof that good stuff did come out in the seventies.
This is good pop.