There’s something timeless about Ringo’s drumming. Though he’s not one to get with “the click-track way” of making records, you simply can’t ignore his flawless time and backbeat, and he always makes the simplest drum parts feel so good. Ringo did this flawlessly for many years as a Beatle, and has continued doing it throughout his long solo career. And those qualities are evident once again on his seventeenth solo recording, Ringo 2012.
Like his last album, 2010’s Y Not, Starr takes the reins as producer and drummer, deciding against the double-drumming approach he took on many of his past solo records. Yes, there’s the usual appearance of famous friends making guest appearances. But it’s definitely Ringo calling all the shots here. He even revisits a few of his older tunes, employing a reggae feel both on “Step Lightly” (originally on the massively successful 1973 album Ringo), and “Wings” (from 1977’s Ringo The 4th).
Lead track “Anthem” kicks off with what sounds like the snare hits on the Beatles’ “Glass Onion,” then marches on with a rock-steady four-on-the-floor beat. On the classic “Rock Island Line” Ringo pays homage to his musical roots, giving the Lonnie Donegan hit a rock-skiffle vibe. In fact, there’s a noticeable amount of material that looks to the past on 2012, such as the mid-tempo “In Liverpool.” On the original track “Slow Down”—not the famous Beatles cover written by Larry Williams—he again ponders about life, with good friend and now brother-in-law Joe Walsh on guitar.
Elsewhere, Ringo’s famous shuffle feel pushes “Think It Over,” a track from the 2011 tribute record Listen to Me, on which Ringo got to honor Beatles influence Buddy Holly. (The track features a bit of tasty steel drum on the top as well.) And “Wonderful” is a love song to his wife, Barbara; here Ringo plays a straight-ahead beat, then effectively adds the toms to the groove of the hooky choruses.
Like on all of Ringo’s solo records, the drumming on 2012 is not out to change the world. It’s purely about serving the song, which is what Ringo does better than just about anyone. In fact, he basically wrote the book on it. (HIP-O/UMe Records)