Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr is the musical equivalent of meatloaf with gravy, mashed potatoes and a cold glass of milk to wash it down with. Not too exciting, very predictable, but also very comforting and in the right mood, exactly what you’re looking for.
The title of Ringo’s new CD, Ringo 2012, seems a bit odd at first since given its overall sound and style it could have easily been released in 1982. However, it serves as a reminder that even in 2012, Ringo’s simple and cheery take on life is alive, well, and maybe even desperately needed.
The first number of this short (it clocks in at roughly 30 minutes) nine-song set, “Anthem,” kicks things off by telling you exactly what the message of the whole album is. “This is an anthem of peace and love,” Ringo sings in a strong, clear voice over a steady drumbeat and impossibly catchy guitar riff, and things progress in an orderly fashion from there.
Ringo does not deny the existence of negativity in the world, but instead urges the listener to fight it through the power of love and positive thinking. The next-to-last song, “Liverpool,” has Ringo crooning, “When I was a kid in Liverpool, the rain never stopped but the sun always shone in my mind,” while 80s-style pop synthesizer and driving drums straight out of “Sergeant Pepper” fill the background.
The rest of 2012 pretty much follows suit. The energy level is extremely high; you would never guess from the sound of his vocals that Ringo will turn 72 this year and while his percussion is not flashy, he continues to play in the lively, enthusiastic style he perfected as a Beatle almost 50 years ago. Influences of his Beatles years can be heard throughout, as Ringo certainly knows his way around a harmony and the late George Harrison is channeled through numerous stretched-out guitar licks.
A variety of musical genres are explored on 2012: samba (on the appropriately titled “Samba”), barroom boogie-woogie (“Slow Down” and a cover of the blues standard “Rock Island Line”), and reggae (“Wings”), along with the straightforward pop Ringo has been churning out since he left the Beatles. There are no real slow numbers or ballads here, but those have always more been the strength of his former bandmate Paul McCartney, anyway.
Ultimately, 2012 is a testament to the continued existence of optimism in a year that supposedly marks the end of life as we know it. Like a good meatloaf supper, sometimes that hits the spot.