The Most Unappreciated Beatle Is Still Making Music
The last time Ringo Starr released a solo album, we dedicated our cover story to inviting him back to the Philippines. That was back in 2015, when he dropped Postcards From Paradise. Two years on and he’s dropped another one, entitled Give More Love—his nineteenth(!) solo album since The Beatles split up—and it’s a profoundly optimistic, if stubbornly old-fashioned rock record that is, in some vague paradoxical way, relevant to the times.
To be clear, Give More Love is precisely what you’d expect from Ringo Starr—which is both its strength and its weakness. On one hand, he’s never really ventured too far to evolve as an artist. But he’s Ringo Starr, after all—at once the most beloved and most hated Beatle. And throughout his solo career, he’s had some fair hits and a lot of misses, but never anything that could really stand up to his work with the Fab Four. Give More Love isn’t any different. At its best, it’s nostalgic and easy to listen to. But at its worst, it feels bland and uninspired: just another classic rock record (with some strange but unexciting forays into country and reggae) that you wouldn’t really take time to listen to on its own.
But on the other hand, he’s Ringo—and just by virtue of him being Ringo, you tend to overlook the faults and appreciate Give More Love the way you’d appreciate your tito’s musical performance at the Christmas party, cringes and all. Because it lives up to your expectations—perhaps even exceeds them at times—you can easily ignore the fact that none of it is anything new or bold or daring. Instead, you can enjoy the music for what it is, focusing on the optimistic, post-hippie lyricism that’s characteristic of Ringo, and oddly enough, timely.
In “Laughable”, he sings, like an out-of-touch uncle struggling to make sense of the world, “Picked up my cellphone and called my friends / They tried to tell me that it’s not the end” and “Let’s all be honest, it’s going to hell / But not forever.” It’s old-fashioned, sure, but it’s also a refreshing perspective if you take it from someone who hasn’t been jaded from making music for over fifty years.
And that, perhaps, is the best thing about the album: that it marks Ringo’s earnest desire to keep making music, even at age 77. Everything that people love and hate about him: his oddball uncle persona, his lack of talent or personality compared to the other Beatles, and his message of peace and love—all of it comes off in Give More Love. So if only to hear more Ringo, it’s worth a listen.