Ringo Starr is back. Well, he never goes away, and that’s a good thing.
This afternoon in Jimmy Fallon’s NBC studio, Ringo and his band — really Ben Harper and his band — debuted a couple of songs from Ringo’s new album, called “Y Not.” The songs were good, nothing wrong with them. But then Ringo took the drums and the band launched into the Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man.” What can I say? It was gorgeous, it was like buttah. The Beatles’ sound is still ebullient. Jimmy Fallon kept grinning and making jokes about it being February 1964. If only.
Ringo is a spry 69.’ He’ll turn 70 this summer on July 7 at Radio City Music Hall with his All Starr Band. How does it feel to turn 70, I asked? “I look 40,” he replied. He does.
I also asked Ringo what he’d heard on the Beatles Stereo or Mono box sets that surprised him. “I never listened to the Mono box,” he said, adding, “I am Mono.” As for the Stereo box, he said that 10 years ago when the “Yellow Submarine” album was turned into 5.1 Dolby, he and Paul sat and listened to it in astonishment. “We kept saying, Who’s playing that? It was so clear!”
Frankly, the big winner in those box sets is Ringo. He never sounded so crisp and creative. All joking aside, he’s a great, great drummer.
Ringo has Paul singing with him on “Walk With You,” a track on the new album, which constitutes a Beatles reunion these days. Otherwise he has Harper and friends, which was a wise move. And Ringo produced the album himself with manager/pal Bruce Sugar. His co-writers include Van Dyke Parks, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, Gary Wright, and Joss Stone. Not bad.
Someone did ask him about the “Beatles Rock Band” game, and Ringo replied, “I can’t do it. I’m no good at it.” He did admit his grandkids like to play the game.
There’s something very reassuring about Ringo these days. It’s nice to see him, even nicer to hear him. It don’t come easy, and he knows it. For my money, anything he did with Richard Perry is worth listening to, even in 2010.