Ringo Starr - Photograph: The Very Best Of Ringo Starr
Jay Mansfield 23/09/2007
'Carry That Weight', one of the last songs the Beatles recorded together, was about the burden of expectation the four individual members would face as they went on to their post-Beatles careers and lives.
That said, not a great deal was expected of the drummer's solo work. Ringo Starr's contribution to the Beatles oeuvre consisted of a few lyrics here and there and a couple of tunes in the latter half of the band's back catalogue. According to David Quantick and several other sources, 'Octopus' Garden' was in fact co-written by the group's lesser known composer, guitarist George Harrison. Harrison contributes a couple of clunkers on this country-flecked compilation of Starr's most memorable hits, as does John Lennon; 'I'm The Greatest' is particularly wretched, and not entirely apposite either.
Surprisingly though, it was Starr's…er, star that shone the brightest, at least initially. He racked up seven top ten hits in the U.S in the first half of the 1970s (including two number ones), a period in which Lennon, McCartney and Harrison would struggle to reach the top 40 either side of the Atlantic. This early spurt would prove to be the most fruitful period of his solo career, and the most notable tracks on this collection date from those first, heady years. 'Photograph', and 'It Don't Come Easy' are arguably the standout tracks here, although the Elton John/Bernie Taupen penned 'Snookeroo' is an interesting curiosity. 'Early 1970', a b-side to 'It Don't Come Easy' is notable for being the drummer's account of the frosty relationship between the four ex-Beatles in the immediate aftermath of the break up of the band.
Ultimately though, as the novelty of Starr's work wore off his limitations as a singer and songwriter became more apparent, and the success started to dry up. His songs from the latter half of the 70s are almost exclusively written by his collaborators, and indeed, all but six of this collection's 20 tracks were recorded between 1970 and 1976, the last time Ringo seriously bothered the charts. He records a new album every five years or so, but today he seems to be more content touring with his All-Starr band ensemble and playing to audiences that are as devoted to him now as they were when he was fab.
Starr has a strange reputation. He's beloved by many as a singer, an actor (especially in his role of narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine), and some people even consider him to be a decent drummer. But could he ever be considered anything more than that? Unfortunately, this 'Best Of' answers that question fairly damningly in the negative.