Happy Anniversary: Ringo Starr, RINGO’S ROTOGRAVURE
41 years ago today, Ringo Starr released his fifth studio album and the final one to feature active contributions from all three of his fellow Beatles.
Recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles and Atlantic Studios in New York, RINGO’S ROTOGRAVURE was Starr’s first album for a new label in both the US and the UK: in America, he was signed to Atlantic Records, and in the UK he was signed to Polydor. Although Starr had originally planned to have Richard Perry produce the album, he instead found himself working with Arif Mardin, who – as Atlantic’s in-house producer – had plenty of studio street cred.
As had become par for the course for Starr, the album was chock full of Starr’s friends, some of them singing and playing on the material, others just contributing songs to the proceedings. In the former category, Eric Clapton and Peter Frampton played guitar, Dr. John played keyboards, John Lennon played piano, Klaus Voorman played bass, Jim Keltner played drums (unless Ringo was playing them, of course), and the backing vocalists included Paul and Linda McCartney, Melissa Manchester, Harry Nilsson, and David Lasley. What’s particularly notable about Lennon’s appearance on the album is that it was the last session in which he would participate until he returned to the studio to record his 1980 album, DOUBLE FANTASY. Oh, and if you’re wondering about George Harrison, he was in the midst of trying to get his own album, THIRTY THREE AND 1/3, finished in a timely fashion, but he contributed the song “I’ll Still Love You.”
Of the singles released from RINGO’S ROTOGRAVURE, the two which made the most impact were “A Dose of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Hey! Baby,” the latter a cover of the classic Bruce Chanel track. Neither charted in the UK, but in the US, both made the Billboard Hot 100, with Starr scoring a top-40 hit with the former. (It hit #26, whereas “Hey! Baby” stalled out at #74.) The album didn’t chart in the UK, either, but it did climb into the top 30 in America. Alas, it would prove to be the last time Starr scored anywhere near that high with one of his albums, but ROTOGRAVURE still has its fans. If you haven’t listened to it lately, then it’s time you gave it another spin to see how it’s held up.
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