Sound: Each of The Beatles have lovingly been given their own title over the years -- Paul being the cute, loveable Beatle; John taking on the smart role; George was the quiet one; and then there was Ringo Starr. While he was never the songwriting powerhouse that John, Paul, or George was, Starr has always bee considered the fun or lighthearted Beatle, and his latest solo release actually does justice to that persona. Sure, he's been teased about being the odd-man-out among The Beatles, but Starr continues to be prolific and comes across as incredibly likeable and good-natured on new his mellow rock release Liverpool 8.
The album is actually Starr's first release on EMI since he left in 1975, and apparently some drama occurred over the production during the recording sessions. Producer Mark Hudson only stayed for part of the process for whatever reason (some claim it was over a disagreement about synthesizer parts while Ringo says it was just a matter of trust and respect), and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics' fame entered the picture afterward. Regardless of which producer had the biggest hand in Liverpool 8, it's surprisingly solid across the board. Starr's delivery is a unique one and might not click with younger audiences, but the songs are well-written and will probably have you humming after the first listen.
Starr wastes no time in churning out the nostalgia with his opening track Liverpool 8, in which he reminisces about his days with his former bandmates. It's a quirky, simplistic number that puts on no pretenses. Liverpool 8 is not a work of genius, but it's charming and engaging because of the colorful lyrics featured in the song. Give It A Try is a track that follows the same lighthearted mentality as the opener, but there's a bit more depth the rest of the record.
Some might be wondering if Liverpool 8 ever sounds like The Beatles, and there are definitely glimpses of Starr's past that do emerge. For Love feels straight off of a John Lennon solo album, and although the chorus is a little poppy, it does have some great moments. A few other songs have their Beatles' moments as well, but in general the album covers a lot more ground -- from blues in Think About You to a trippy, experimental vibe in Give It A Try. // 8
Lyrics: While there are a lot of songs about the usual topics like For Love and Give It A Try (also about love), some unique gems are among the bunch. Liverpool 8 is an autobiographical look at Starr's life, covering everything from his days as a sailor to his concerts with The Beatles. There is a lot of originality and fun in that one song alone, and Starr does a pretty good job at keeping the rest of the lyrical content from getting stale. // 8
Overall Impression: Will Ringo's latest offering be something that younger audiences automatically gravitate toward? Well, no, but that's probably not the audience he's writing for anyway. For as one-dimensional as some of us might assume Starr is, he does his best to prove us wrong by writing everything from Spanish ballads to some pretty bluesy numbers. While he may still never be compared to John or Paul, he certainly proves himself to be a capable songwriter on Liverpool 8. // 8