Now this is a something very few saw coming. Amazingly, for an artist whose output doesn't bother the charts, this is Ringo Starr's 17th studio album since March 1970, and it doesn't seem possible that 42 years have disappeared into the distant recesses of the mind since he struck out on his own after the Fab Four called it a day. Whilst that might seem to be not much of an output, this is his fifth release in less than seven years (one being a `best of'). What might surprise many though is that he does still have legions of followers, even if anything he releases sells less in the UK than the number of hot dinners I have; it's just that as those fans are spread far and wide with no concentration in any one territory, it might appear that no one buys anything bearing his name. (Whilst this might be an irritation for him, I'm sure it's a minor one considering he won't have to rely on the royalties to pay his gas bill.)
Right, let's see what `2012' is like.
Anthem. The longest track here, it's five minutes of Ringo singing easy couplets about peace and love and to be brutal, it sounds like many other things he's done. Wings. A re-recording of a track from `Ringo the 4th' updated with a reggae style backing. Why he chose to revisit this song isn't known. Scheduled to be a single in the USA but maybe not here. Think it Over. Familiar to most groups in the late 50s, it's certainly the catchiest song here. Samba. This isn't what you might think. Whilst it does have samba style percussion and that, some needless guitar spoils it. Rock Island Line. Another one attempted by the majority of fledgling groups up and down the country, once again, I think the wailing guitar spoils this, which is completely out of place. It would have been better using a simple line up in the way the song was meant to be. Yes, time has marched on since the 50s, but that doesn't mean you have to use modern technology. Some things are best left alone. Step Lightly. Originally recorded for `Ringo' in 1973, it's yet another `so what' track. If he had to go to his back catalogue, he should have chosen something better than this. Wonderful. Is nothing special; it's just an ordinary song that doesn't have anything to save it. In Liverpool. The third song he's written about his home town, and name checks the Iron Door, Sefton Park, his time as an apprentice engineer and `the boys' (not necessarily the other Beatles). With an `ooo la la la' backing similar to `You Won't See Me', he asks the question as to how good it was for you? Slow Down. Is his rock and roll song that is actually not that bad, though it's the backing that makes it as opposed to the nondescript words. It's a shame it didn't have a different title.
The total running time for this CD is under 30 minutes (a lamentable 28:46 minutes to be precise), which harks back to the days of 14 song LP's and it's a bit short. The inlay sleeve is another huge disappointment; other than song credits there's nothing. At least give us something to read. Okay, we all know what to expect in the singing department but this isn't anywhere as good as his last two releases Y Not and Liverpool 8, and to be rather brutal, it's all a bit of a mess. I admit to having everything Ringo has ever released but I really feel it's time for him to retire. Considering that this gives the impression that he realises it too, maybe it really is the last hurrah?
Anyway, if nothing else, Ringo Starr is still the celebrity with more records where he is the subject matter than any other, and it will probably remain that way evermore. Annoyingly, there is also a double CD version not available here that includes a DVD with commentary and live footage.